Cigar Life Guy isn’t a website full of cigar reviews, but plenty of those websites are out there. Make no mistake. You won’t find our website full of reviews and with a complex or confusing numbered rating system. We don’t sit around smoking bunches of cigars just for show or have many opinions about each stick! Cigar Life Guy has a pretty simple system: “Consider buying, yes or no?”
Typical Cigar Review Rating System
Most popular cigar reviewers use a 100-point scale, 1-100. Typically, cigars are evaluated on appearance, flavor, construction, smoking performance, and overall impression.
Some of those attributes may be weighted differently, but a maximum amount of points are allowed, say 15 or 20, per attribute. So there’s usually much bunching for overall scores in the high 80s and low 90s.
You don’t want to look at cigar reviews like the letter grades you got in school, meaning an 80 is a ”B” or above average or 90 is an “A” or excellent.
Out of courtesy to the makers, unflattering reviews are typically not published. However, some sources of reviews, including the most famous, Cigar Aficionado, are done blind, meaning the removal of the bands is necessary, so the reviewer doesn’t know who made the cigar, and the reputation of the brand isn’t a consideration.
Some reviewers do not review blindly. Also, most reviews are done without regard to shelf price (obviously, this has to be the case when done blind).
Cigar Life Guy’s Take: Reviews and Rating Systems
Simply put, Cigar Life Guy believes the actual moment of truth for the consumer is when they go into a humidor (whether literally in a brick-and-mortar store or virtually shopping online) and are confronted with hundreds or thousands of options and decide what cigar they want to buy. As a result, shelf price, or value, must be considered when evaluating cigars.
Our rating system doesn’t use a 100-point scale and is relatively simple. The reviewer asks, “If I was in a humidor, would I consider buying this cigar at regular retail prices?” The system is individual, and smokers can have different takes on the same cigar for reasons like palate and pocketbook.
More on the Cigar Life Guy Rating System
Recognizing that the simple up or down leaves a lot of unanswered questions, we’ve added a few categories that provide a little more perspective.
These are our favorites, and we regularly purchase them in the humidor. These are in our wheelhouse. Not only do we love these cigars we think the shelf price is fair or represents a terrific value relative to other cigars. These are 10% of the cigar universe we sample.
Note: The percentages in this and the following categories aren’t meant to be precise but an order of magnitude approximation.
They are not our favorites, but we buy these occasionally in the humidor. We enjoy these cigars and think they represent a fair value. However, we don’t enjoy them quite as much as the “Regularly Buy” category. These are approximately 15% of the cigar universe we sample.
Good But Wouldn’t Buy, Palate
These are cigars we can appreciate, but they aren’t for us. Typically they are flawlessly made and smoke well, but the flavor doesn’t align with our palate. As a result, we wouldn’t buy these. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great cigars, and they may certainly deserve all the accolades they receive from others; they don’t work for us. These are roughly 10% of what we sample. (They are a much more significant portion of the cigar universe, but we naturally gravitate to what we think we’ll enjoy).
Good But Wouldn’t Buy, Value
These are cigars we enjoyed but put, but the shelf price is just so high that under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t buy them; there are just so many other good alternatives. You’ve probably heard your buddies talking about a cigar and say something along the lines of, “it was a good stick, but it wasn’t a $20 ($30 in high tax States) stick,” or “for that kind of money I could have gotten an XYZ cigar!” That’s what we’re talking about here.
Yeah, suppose you’re at an event for that cigar maker. In that case, you might buy another to be supportive, but you wouldn’t under normal circumstances. The value equation – what you get vs. what you pay – is just off. These are roughly 20% of what we try.
Smokable But Wouldn’t Buy
It isn’t a bad cigar. It was smokable. The value equation may or may not be okay, but with so many other choices out there, we aren’t going to rebuy it. Palate differences may play a role here; others might enjoy it, but it isn’t for us. These are roughly 35% of the cigars we try.
Wouldn’t Smoke Again, Period
These cigars were just not enjoyable to smoke. Typically these cigars have issues with the construction or smoking experience; it isn’t just an issue of preference or palate. These are cigars we’d be embarrassed to give to a friend. But unfortunately, many of these are out there, and they are probably 10% of what we sample.
A Final Thought on Cigar Reviews
Our approach, using value as a criterion and keeping it simple, works for us. Use what works for you; that’s all that’s important. Don’t rely too much on anyone’s review system. Also, recognize that individual taste or palate will play a role in anyone’s plan. If you find someone’s reviews helpful, follow their work and tell them you appreciate them.
Photo credit: Cigar Life Guy