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Cigar reviews can sound like a lot of baloney at times for less experienced smokers. The reviewer mentions “notes of caramel/cedar/hay” or “a complex blend of sweet and spice” and the newer cigar fan thinks, “wow, I just taste leather in the cigars I smoke. Tastes great, but I don’t find the nuances.” Here’s a suggestion: Smoke two cigars at a time and compare them head to head, so to speak. This is a common practice among wine lovers – trying two or more wines side by side. Here’s what you’ll need. 1. Two cigars with dissimilar characteristics: Choose one in the mild-medium range, something like an Ashton VSG Sumatra. It’s a 91-rated smoke and represents the mild-medium class very well. The second cigar should be in the full-flavor category. The La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero is a very good choice. It will distinguish itself quickly from the VSG. The Chisel Maduro Toro is also a 91-rated cigar. As you develop a taste for the differences and nuances in various cigars, you might want to try smoking two medium cigars or two strong cigars to spot the more subtle differences. 2. The right beverage: This isn’t the time to find the perfect double-malt scotch or IPA to go with your favorite cigar. You want to keep it about the cigars. For this reason, water is the best choice in beverages, and carbonated water, specifically. Carbonation does a fantastic job of cleansing the palate between puffs of different cigars. 3. A Notepad to jot down what you’re tasting: Take a draw of the milder cigar first and meditate on it for a few seconds. Release the smoke and take a sip or two of the water, swishing it around a bit to cleanse all the flavor regions of the tongue. Continue this practice as you enjoy both cigars while exploring what you’re tasting. As you develop your palate through this type of experiment, you’ll begin to notice the specific flavor characteristics that make each cigar unique. You’ll be on your way to becoming a true connoisseur of premium cigars.
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