It goes without saying that when we choose a cigar, one of the biggest priorities is how it tastes. But, what separates an amateur smoker from a seasoned cigar enthusiast is their palate – more precisely, their ability to detect individual notes in any given cigar. It’s hard to develop your palate without knowing the basic notes common in cigar tobacco, and you may be surprised by just how many of these notes can exist together in a single tobacco blend.
What is a Cigar Note?
A cigar note refers to a flavor note that contributes to the overall flavor profile found in a cigar. A cigar usually consists of a blend of tobaccos selected from various locations around the world, and besides the tobaccos themselves, the wrapper, the age of the cigar, and how it was manufactured can introduce new flavor notes into your smoking experience.
Coffee notes found in a cigar can range from a deep, bold and robust espresso to a mildly creamy coffee taste, that almost tastes like coffee blended with milk. Coffee notes are more common in full-bodied cigars, since coffee is a full-bodied flavor, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t milder blends that have an almost café con leche taste that adds to their decadence.
- Tabak Especial Dulce Toro: Infused with Nicaraguan coffee, these mild-to-medium cigars use a rich roast to balance out their sweetness
- Nub Nuance (Sampler): A creamy, robust flavor profile that’s rich, creamy, sweet and smooth, with chocolate and coffee acting as the dominant flavor notes
Nuttiness is a huge component of tobacco flavor profiles, adding a rich and buttery element that manages to tie together the sweet and savory. Notes of almonds, chestnuts, peanuts, cashews and even hazelnuts can be found in a particular cigar, and are for more common in milder options, although full-bodied cigars can certainly have a nutty nature to them. Connecticut Shade wrappers are known for their nutty taste which can elevate the existing nuttiness of the tobacco.
- Ashton Cabinet Selection: A rich and creamy blend with distinctive notes of nuttiness, consisting of 5 individual Dominican tobaccos
- Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva: Delectably nutty and smooth, this legendary cigar also offers creaminess and the taste of cedar
Sweet notes can include all kinds of individual flavors like chocolate, molasses, honey, maple, caramel and more. Some cigar manufacturers really elevate the sweetness by aging their cigars in liquor barrels that retain a lot of the sugary components of whiskey, cognac and more. The sweetness can vary from one cigar to the next. Most cigars have some sweetness to them, but particular ones on the market are known for almost having a clear dessert-like quality, making them perfect for after dinner.
- Acid Extra Extraordinary: A mouthwatering blend of dark chocolate and luscious black cherries for after dinner
- La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva: Notes of caramel, hazelnuts and dark chocolate come alive while spicy pepper balances out the sweetness
Lots of various woodsy notes can make their way into cigars. Cedar is the most common woodsy notes found in all kinds of cigars ranging from mild to full-bodied, and this usually comes from the fact that cigars are typically stored in cedar, inevitably picking up that sensual taste and aroma. Other woods include oak and hickory, which add a darker woodsy component to the taste of a cigar.
- Padron 1926 Serie Maduro: This full-bodied cigar combines together warm chocolate, rich coffee and aromatic cedar
- Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Robusto: A medium-full cigar that provides the dreamy taste of oak, cinnamon and bittersweet cocoa
Herbal and vegetal notes like tea and mint add a freshness to a cigar and are most common among more mild blends due to the lightness that they provide to balance out any boldness or richness.
- Acid Krush Candella Green: A uniquely fresh choice that contains a dazzling array of botanicals and herbs
Clove, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg are all common spicy notes that may be present in a particular cigar’s flavor profile. They add warmth and complexity to cigars ranging from mild to full-bodied, but the bolder cigars usually come with more spice overall.
- La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero: A pinch of cayenne and a strong black pepper note permeate through a flavor profile of leather and hickory
- Oliva Serie V: A luxurious blend of red pepper, leather and earthy notes work together to provide a smooth yet bold flavor experience
Natural notes range from leather, which is more common in fuller-bodied cigars, and even a barnyard note which, believe it or not, is quite popular and great for balancing out sweeter notes. You may even encounter musty, musky or salty notes that add intrigue to the flavor experience.
- Perdomo Lot 23 Maduro: A blend of nuts, cedar and a distinctive barnyard note that adds earthiness
- Deadwood Leather Rose Maduro: The name says it all, with an almost gothic blend of earthy leather and dark, aromatic roses, with subtle spices in the background