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How to Taste a Cigar

Many non-cigar smokers and cigar-smoking skeptics will undermine the legitimacy of a cigar review, and will blame the tasting experience to be heavily influenced by suggestion. However, this is far from the truth. In fact, there are specific ways on smoking a cigar to get the most flavors out of them. Often times, you are unable to experience a cigar’s rightful flavor because of changes in a small variable. 

how to taste cigar

Keep in mind that even the smallest hindrance in the taste effecting factors can impact the overall experience. For instance, you can get a different flavor profile depending on how quickly or slowly you smoke the cigar. Nonetheless, for someone that has never experienced the individual flavor profiles of different cigars, it can be hard to fathom any singled-out flavor from a cigar. 

Thus, the best way to truly understand the cigar’s flavors is to experience different cigars and try to extract the best flavors that stem from them. Very few people can easily identify unique flavors when smoking a cigar. Regardless of whether you are blessed with a precise and refined pallet, a little experience and insight can help you find distinct flavors in most cigars. 

Use our FREE Cigar Tasting Worksheet

We created this FREE digital download Cigar Tasting Card to help develop your palate and assist in identifying key tasting notes while smoking premium cigars. Use this interactive worksheet to document and level up your cigar tasting experience.

  • Get insights into cigar tasting notes & terminology
  • Gain a new appreciation for cigars with this fun interactive experience
  • Develop your palate & learn to identify key flavor profiles
  • Document your smoking experiences for future reference and reviews

This Cigar Tasting Guild is a 100% free digital download. After completing the checkout process you will have the ability to download the PDF file. You can then print a physical copy, or use the digital version.

The Importance of Taste and Flavor

The flavor of the cigar, identifying them, discussing them, and savoring them is a huge component of the cigar smoking experience. They are also paramount to which type of cigar you want to smoke and why you would choose one instead of the other. Most of the premium cigars that you find today have a very good construction and flavor profile. 

importance of tasting a cigar

If you are not smoking for the taste, there is a high chance you are smoking for the nicotine. This will be pointless because most cigars do not have much nicotine in them. This is not to say that one should not enjoy the cigar for everything it brings to the table. The relaxation and enjoyment elements of cigar smoking are enough to make you fall in love. 

Important Considerations When Tasting a Cigar 

You must remember that a cigar-tasting experience can differ from one person to the next. Every individual has a different pallet, and you may identify a flavor differently than the next person. Since our pallet can be unique to our personality and upbringing, you need a group of experts that can combine all the flavor notes and compile them into one database. 

This is why every cigar box comes with similarities and not an end-all-be-all flavor profile. For example, a cigar may have a flavor profile similar to leather. However, if you are not familiar with the scent of wet leather, you are likely to identify that cigar taste with chocolate. This means that the flavor of a cigar ultimately has to do with your familiarity with certain scents and aromas. 

Therefore, if you are not familiar with the various tastes of a cigar, then you are essentially relying on suggestions and the flavor profile on the cigar box. This means that the cigar needs to be free from any manipulation if you truly want to master the craft of cigar smoking.

Majority of the cigar smokers make the mistake of confusing flavor with strength. You can have a mild cigar that is full of flavor. At the same time, you can enjoy a strong cigar with no flavor at all. Every other person has a tolerance level that dictates whether they can adhere to the strength of the cigar smoke. Some individuals with a low tolerance scale will find even the mildest flavorful cigar to be strong. 

What to Look For When Tasting a Cigar? 

When smoking a new cigar blend, there are a few elements that you must look for. These help through the entirety of the tasting experience. With the first drag to the last, you must be willingly identifying the flavor of the cigar. After the flavor, you must analyze the cigar’s strength, and this may also involve its potency. Once you have the potency down, make sure that the cigar has a nice aroma. 

Lighting Cohiba Siglo VI

Therefore, a cigar should have a unique flavor and strength, and it should give out a specific aroma. When dragging out the cigar from start to finish, make sure to pinpoint the complexity in taste as you get to the first, second, and final third of the cigar. 

A good cigar will always offer a complex shift in the flavor profile as you smoke it down to the wrapper. Along with complexity, a premier cigar also provides a good balance, along with good finish. You want a cigar to have a long finish, in which your lips are tingling with flavors once you put the cigar down. 

Tips on How to Get the Most Flavors Out of a Cigar 

Use a Worksheet 

Trying to get around different flavor profiles can be very difficult without help. Since it is difficult to get in touch with a cigar expert,  the best way is to use tools and resources to dot down the different flavors and aromas of a cigarette. 

One such tool that can help is the Classic Mindset Cigar tasting worksheet. This carefully crafted resource has the approval of many cigar connoisseurs. Using this worksheet while smoking is an enjoyable and interactive way of understanding the different flavor profiles of a cigar. Furthermore, it also helps you identify your favorite cigar. 

Cold Draw

The cold draw is a drag you take before lighting up the cigar. It is the first step you should take after cutting open the cigar. Cold drawing allows you to get your pallet ready for cigar smoke and flavor. It is a preview of the flavor profile and can help enhance your cigar tasting experience. 

Clean Your Pallet

Before you even light or cut the cigar, make sure that you have a clean pallet. Do not smoke a cigar after eating or drinking items that overwhelm your pallet. Certain foods are okay to have, and do not mess with your pallet too much, for example, a steak. Thus, make sure to cleanse your pallet before your light the cigar. 

oliva milanio with coffee

One of the ways of cleaning your pallet includes eating dark chocolate. The second way you can reset your pallet is by drinking black coffee. Drinking a small portion of black coffee is good practice when resetting your pallet to pick up some of the sour and sweet notes of the cigar. Cigars are not sour, but they do offer some nuanced bitter tones that are pleasurable. 


Another tip to experience the cigar’s flavor to the fullest is to retrohale. This is a term that many cigar smokers refer to when they expel cigar smoke through the nose. When you do not retrohale, you are missing out on what the manufacturers have displayed. Tasting all the subtle scents and nuanced flavors requires you to retrohale. 

The best way to retrohale is to draw on the smoke and store it for a few seconds. After about a few seconds in, you will have to allow about 75 percent of the smoke to escape from the mouth. Then with the last 25 percent of the smoke, you should allow it to escape by pushing it out through your nasal cavity. 

To attempt this, you may have to power through sneezing and coughing just to get your nasal cavity familiar with the smoke. This is important because you only have five taste sensors in your mouth, you also have about 21 in your nose. This means that you have a better chance of picking up all the cigar flavors if you blow it out through your nose. 

Try a Myriad of Different Cigars 

bundle of cigars

If you are a new cigar smoker, then you should stay away from a strong cigar. This is not to say that new smokers should be careful of strong cigars. Even if you wish to stay on the lighter end of cigars, do not be afraid to test your taste buds. Only when you try a collection of different cigars with varying strengths and flavors, will you be able to identify unique undertones. 

Smoke the Cigars Slow

Traditionally, it is best that you smoke the cigars slowly and not puff them away too fast. Once you take a few drags, you can set the cigar down for anywhere between 30 to 45 seconds. Letting the cigar rest between puffs allows the tobacco to cool down and retain the flavor. Continually puffing the cigar can result in an uneven burn through the third half. 

epicure no 2 resting

Excessively, piping down on a cigar will lead to a cone-shaped formation when you ash the cigar. The occurrence of this cone shape is a warning sign, indicating that you are smoking the cigar too fast and compromising the authentic flavor experience of the cigar. Drawing the cigar too quickly also tinges on the oils inside the tobacco. 

Instead of burning them instantly, the idea is to let the oils inside the tobacco warm up and settle. Once the flavors start to open up, you will be able to pull on the more genuine flavors of the cigar. Keep in mind that you are not pulling all the flavors on the first third of the cigar. Once you enter the second third, all oils and flavors will come together to please your pallet. 

smoke slow

Once you get the 1000 degrees ember started after lighting the cigar evenly, it will take some time for the heat to be drawn in. In other words, the oils will take time opening up, which means that you must let the whole cigar warm-up from the interior to the exterior before judging its flavor profile.

Proper Relight 

Relighting a cigar properly is critical, and doing it the wrong way can be to your detriment. Keep in mind that there is about 13.2 percent moisture inside the cigar when your cigar ember extinguishes. This moisture content will want to expand and turn to steam. Thus, make sure that you do not use a cutter to cut out the ember in the front. 

Lighting Ramon Allones Specially Selected Cigar

Instead, you will benefit more from knocking a slight bit of ember in the front using a lighter. Then, you want to use the lighter to cherry up the ends of the cigar. After doing that, you want to make sure to blowback through the cigar by holding the flame out in front at a 45 degrees angle. 

Doing this allows you to warm up the ammonia crystals at the end to get drawn to the heat. By blowing it back through, you can blow out all the impurities and inhale a much cleaner flavor on a relight. Firing it up without blowing on it will lead to the ammonia crystals getting into the cigar smoke, which will taint the cigar’s flavors. 

Factors That Impact Your Taste Buds 

You cannot change how your tastebuds are. Hence, regardless of how well you are smoking a cigar, if you do not have developed taste buds, then you will not be able to identify all the cigar flavors. Thus, if none of the methods are helping you with the cigar tasting, you may have to address habits that impact your taste buds. 

If you do not have a lot of flavor coming from your food, drinks, or cigars, then this may be a biological problem, and you may not be genetically not inclined to sense deep tastes. Another reason could be cigarette smoking. If you are a heavy cigarette smoker, your taste buds will be affected greatly, which can impact your cigar smoking experience. 

Additionally, if you eat plenty of spicy food, then this is another way you can potentially damage your taste buds. Ultimately, it would be best if you had fairly neutral and undamaged taste buds to be able to taste the subtler cigar flavors. 


Overall, as you develop your taste for cigars, and your pallet starts getting used to the cigar smoke, you have to keep cleansing your pallet between cigars to enjoy the flavor profile. Other things that can accentuate the tasting experience involve the lighting process, cut, humidor, and how you drag the cigar throughout. The finish refers to the taste that a drag leaves inside your mouth. The finish is where you should be able to taste some of the leftover flavor notes of the cigar.