Read our beginner's guide to the flavors herbs and spices found in cigars most commonly used to describe the smoking experience. Only from your favorite Glenside cigar store, El Cigar Shop.
Ever wondered what the major herbs and spices found in cigars are? Let's take a look at the most common herbs and spices found in cigars that contribute to the flavors most cigar critics refer to.
Describing the flavor of a cigar is a good way to help others understand what they may be spending their money on before they purchase a cigar. Further, it can be a fantastic way to help share the smoking experiences you’ve had.
Smoking cigars (especially if you smoke in a lounge or with friends) is a social event, after all. Sure, there are people who enjoy a solitary cigar at night, or even in the office, but cigars are usually enjoyed with others. And if you’ve spent any time smoking with friends or trying to learn about cigars, there are a handful of different descriptions you may have heard used to talk about the taste of a cigar.
Often, those descriptive words are common foods and spices, or sometimes other common things like leather and earth. These words are chosen because they are easy to understand to the average person, whether they have experience with cigars and tobaccos or not.
Now, to be sure, this list of flavors is almost infinite. But we will cover the common ones that will help even the novice cigar smoker to understand the tastes of the cigars they will be dealing with.
Here are a few of the more common herbs and spices found in cigars (and other assorted flavors) that critics will often use to describe their smoking experience:
- Cinnamon. Obviously, this means that the cigar has notes of cinnamon to it.
- Clove. If you ever had old Djarum cigars, or have had a mixed drink with clove in it, you know the taste. It’s basically a cinnamon flavor, but not quite as pronounced as cinnamon.
- Nutmeg. Nutmeg is a nutty, sweet smell and flavor. It’s what gives eggnog its distinct taste.
- Pepper. Many cigars have a peppery flavor to them, like what black pepper tastes like.
- Spice. Kind of like a bit of burnt food with hot sauce on it. Spice has a little bite to it, but usually not enough to scare someone off of smoking that cigar. A spicy cigar has a bit of zing when smoked.
- Chocolate. There are many different types of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, hot chocolate, burnt chocolate. Almost all of these flavors can be found in cigars, though the most often-cited are the dark chocolate and milk chocolate. If you’ve ever had a chocolate bar with more than 60% cocoa (or cacao, if we’re being pretentious), you know what dark chocolate tastes like, with bitter notes to it. Milk chocolate is sweeter, with none of that bitterness.
- Fruit. Some cigars have various hints of fruit to them. If you don’t know what that means, just go and try some fruit at your grocery store.
- Nutty. Nutty is a rather broad way to say that it tastes like a specific nut of some sort (like an almond or walnut) but without labeling exactly what kind of nut in particular it resembles.
- Almond. Almond is a common nut flavor mentioned and is found in the finish of many great premium cigars. If you’ve never had an almond, you're probably allergic or lying.
- Peanut / Peanut Butter. This should be an obvious taste, and an easy one to understand, though it is fairly rare in cigars.
- Walnut. A nuttiness flavor, but a bit drier. Once again, taste one at your local grocery store if you’re not clear on what they taste like.
- Licorice.This flavor does not usually mean the red licorice known as Twizzlers but is rather a reference to a black licorice or anise sort of taste.
- Coffee Flavor. Some cigars have a taste somewhat like coffee (but a deep roasted flavor).
- Mocha. Mocha is a combination of chocolate flavors mixed with hints of coffee flavor.
- Meaty. Meaty flavor is something akin to the taste of a hamburger that has been grilled.
- Leather. This taste is self-explanatory to anyone who has ever smelled leather in their life.
- Earth. A flavor of dirt, soil, or even some sort of musty flavor. Don't knock it if you can't place it.
These terms should be enough to get any cigar smoker started with understanding the flavors of their cigar and how to properly describe the cigars they smoke to other people ‘in the know.’
Want to learn more? The best thing to do is spend some time experiencing different cigars and learning more about the flavors as you taste them. This should give you a better idea of your pallette's preferred tastes and flavors.
Now go to your local cigar store or online cigar shop, and try out a few cigars based on the profiles you think you may like. Or ask a more experienced smoker to recommend their favorite cigar if you aren't sure where to start. Looking for a cigar shop near me in the Philadelphia area? Come stop by El Cigar Shop! We'd love to help you find your next favorite smoking experience and be a part of growing your cigar experience. And there is nothing we like talking more about than our personal favorite rare and premium cigars.