Tasting notes: The cigar flavor wheel

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Tasting notes: The cigar flavor wheel

Part of the joy of cigar smoking is sampling so many different flavors. Each cigar has a unique blended taste, with some cigar flavor profiles being stronger than others and some working cooperatively with the top notes for a delectable cigar smoking experience.

Let’s take a quick spin around the varied cigar flavor wheel to see what notes you can pick up during your next smoke. 


Cigar tobacco can vary in taste depending on its growing conditions and tobacco curing method. For example, air-cured tobacco is hung in a well-ventilated room to dry over two months and develops a light flavor that is only mildly sweet. Sun-cured tobacco, however, is spread evenly across racks to cure in direct sunlight, encouraging a much sweeter taste.

The growing conditions and curing process only alter a cigar’s flavor base. For a truly unique taste, the tobacco is infused with an agent replicating the flavor a manufacturer is trying to create, such as chocolate or orange.


There is such a wide variety of cigar flavors uniquely blended across brands that there is always something new to try. Whether you prefer a fruitier blend or something with a smooth chocolatey or leather taste, you can find the right smoke for you on the cigar flavor wheel.


Cigars with distinct notes of nuttiness are typically a lighter texture, making for a delectably creamy smoke. Nutty cigars will typically have an almond, cashew, or chestnut base and are often complimented well with underlying notes of chocolate or coffee.


Fruity-profiled cigar flavors can be incredibly diverse. Citrus is quite popular, with orange, lemon, and lime notes working distinctly over other underlying flavors. Cherry, raisin, and plum are also common and work well alongside nutty and chocolatey flavors.


Earthy notes typically require a refined taste, as they can be tricky to pick up on. A cigar’s earthiness implies more about its general aroma than how it tastes. While the smoke of an earthy cigar may spiral tendrils of freshly-mown grass or a heavy must, it could taste quite fruity underneath the initial earthy impact.


Leather notes add a remarkable complexity to a smoke. Similar to earthy cigars, leather cigar flavors are primarily a scented experience. Think about how well coffee smells and tastes when reading from a leather-bound book and the image that invokes – that’s in part why leather notes are so popular among esteemed cigar smokers.


While there are plenty of dessert profiles like caramel and toffee, chocolate cigar flavors are undoubtedly the most popular. Hints of cocoa or dark chocolate is common in cigars, and it’s usually well-balanced, so you don’t need to worry about overwhelming sweetness.


If a cigar has a notable woody flavor, it has likely been impacted by the humidor, typically cedar-lined. Because the way you store cigars can impact flavor, it’s common for your stogies to pick up a nice woody flavor that enhances the original blend.


Cigar tobacco is grown under very similar conditions and in the same locations as coffee beans, so it makes sense coffee and cigars go hand-in-hand. Coffee cigar flavors offer a complex and often varying tasting experience. Some cigars might invoke the familiar creaminess of a sweet latte. Coffee cigar flavors work wonderfully with most other notes, including leather, earth, spice, and nuts.


When you see a cigar is labeled spicy, don’t worry – it won’t be like eating a Thai green curry, where you might need a few glasses of water to cool down your palette. Think instead of subtle spices like clove, cinnamon, and pepper. They pack a punch when smoking, but not in an overbearing way. Spice notes work really well alongside woody flavors, as well as coffee and leather.


Most cigar smokers will be able to pick up at least the top note of a cigar’s flavor from those first few puffs. This is especially the case for bold flavors like pepper and coffee. But there is a knack for really drawing in and savoring different flavors of cigars.

You’ll know if a cigar is complex in its flavor diversity if the packaging lists multiple cigar-tasting notes. This information will help you know what to look out for when smoking, but the experience of really tasting each flavor layer is part of the fun.

Every note will intensify the longer you smoke, some flavors transitioning clearly from one to the next and others blending further together. This happens when the cigar becomes hotter, amplifying the overall flavor. To really take in every note, we’d recommend indulging in your smoke a little longer by taking it slow, holding the smoke in your mouth. Smoking slowly will also prevent the cigar overheating, which could alter the flavor.

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