Cigars, Candy Canes and Jack Daniels

Did you know that when tobacco seeds are planted, they drop hershey kisses, fruit or coffee beans in the ground with them? Well not really, but if you follow and read cigar blogs, including this one, you’d certainly think so by some of the stuff that’s written.

  • How did you taste blueberries when you were smoking that?
  • Pumpernickel and french toast! Really?!?!
  • Butternut squash with notes of tulips poplar? C’mon dude.

So often we’ll see tasting notes that resemble something like granny’s cookbook or a menu at Starbucks. While sometimes the descriptions can get a little “creative”, there’s some of it that we can’t ignore…and if we really pay attention to what’s going on with our palettes while we’re smoking, we’ll sometimes be surprised that they’re sometimes kinda accurate.

IMG_1696Let’s break this thing down. I use to LOVE those flavored candy canes that they sold at old country stores…and my childhood dental records will verify. But visiting these stores now days and looking at the flavor labels I can’t help but to laugh because that yellow one…tastes nothing like a lemon. Grapes don’t taste anything like the purple piece of candy…and Lord knows I’ve never had a sweet blueberry. Now that butterscotch…that one is dead on!

But we never question those labels, do we? We look at our options, weigh them carefully (because that $0.20 decision can be a difficult one) and choose what’s going to make us happy. We enjoy them, without discounting the flavors because we’ve been programed to associate certain tastes and smells (because you can’t taste without smelling) to different things, different places and different experiences…even though what we think we taste is not what is really going on in our mouths or nostrils. When something is tart our minds draw us to citrus fruits. When the sweet taste buds are stimulated, we tend to think about the last time we had a good piece of chocolate. All of these tastes are mental, and while you may love a cigar that has a nutty characteristic, I on the other hand am associating that nuttiness with having to use my epi pen.

When those that blog or review cigars evaluate them, they typically only drink unflavored beverages (waters, sparking water, etc) and try not to consume food at the same time so they won’t influence the taste. By creating as little taste bud distraction as possible, it’s far easier to let the aromas and nuances of the cigar take you to those special places and those flavor notes. They also do it alone in an environment where the only smoke their “tasting” is their own. When those that aren’t reviewing cigars are partaking in a social or relaxing setting, there is typically a different kind of beverage involved like a Whiskey, Bourbon or beer. Others enjoy them with or after meals so there is a lot going on with their sense of taste. So while a reviewer’s cigar gives off hints of coffee and earth, that same cigar might taste like cola, Jack Daniels or meat lover’s pizza to the next guy. What you eat and drink, or what you don’t, is one of the most influential factors that affect the taste of your cigar.

The next time you read a cigar review, on this site or any other, and the writer starts pulling food terms out of their butt, just know that they created the environment to get those specifics…and they’re thinking just as much or even more than they are just enjoying and smoking. So it’s not that they’re just trying to fill the page, they’re just being as descriptive as possible to help the consumer with their decision making. The important thing to remember is that we cannot refute someone else’s palette. We can read it, laugh or take it as the gospel, but remember that cigars do something special for us all. There will be people that say they taste cinnamon and another that says it just tastes like good tobacco. Both can be correct. There is no right or wrong. And just like that sassafras or licorice candy stick (yuck) suits someone’s taste, it is all subjective and everyone has the option to try it for themselves or skip over it and go to the next flavor on the shelf.

2 thoughts on “Cigars, Candy Canes and Jack Daniels

  1. I hear ya but there is another side. Look at the reviews in Cigar Aficionado. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder how the reviewer tastes such subtle or obscure notes.
    The answer is that the reviewer has a highly developed palate. Sometimes that happens from many decades of smoking good cigars. And sometimes, the reviewer is just blessed with a sensitive palate.
    I sometimes get carried away but I taste what I taste. The palate is at its best during the first cigar of the day.
    I’ve been smoking cigars for 47 years. And there are flavors that still elude me. But don’t kill the messenger for being able to discern flavors that an inexperienced palate doesn’t taste.
    Kitchen sink flavor lists crack me up too when I discover them in a blend. I guess I’m just lucky.


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