The cigar blogosphere is abuzz with ire over, of all things, the vast number of cigar blogs that have cropped up recently. Specifically, they claim there are too many sub-par cigar blogs being set up to solicit free samples from manufacturers. The legitimate bloggers worry these aficionados have no standards when it comes to their reviewing process, and as such the market is being flooded with useless information.
A Cigar Smoker’s Journal posted a complete breakdown of their review process in response. Tiki Bar Online had an even more in-depth post on their “reviewing philosophy”. Both bloggers occupy the righteous middle ground between major cigar publications that won’t score a stick any lower than 80 out of 100, and the aforementioned fledgling bloggers whose opinions amount to dog rockets.
We believe a diversity of opinions is key for the cigar world and the blogosphere in general to flourish. We would never claim there are ‘too many bloggers’ — readers can tell for themselves what’s crap and what’s not. The flashes in the pan scoring free sticks on the side are just that, and as soon as they appeared, they’ll vanish. What’s more, all that useless information just pushes us legitimate writers further to capture our readers’ attention and provide useful, relevant information.
That gets into a second sticking point concerning cigar reviews — the ratings themselves. Robustojoe brought up a number of impressive arguments in his post dissecting the weak points in the cigar review process. As we’ve discussed on this blog before, we’re both in agreement that the set and setting of your smoking experience can throw a huge wrench of subjectivity in the ratings machine. Add to that the smoker’s personal preference, the focus on a cigar’s appearance in absence of other objective points to assess and numerous other intangibles, and you’re left with a confusing mess of numbers and opinions.
This is where Robustojoe gives some excellent advice we gladly echo: “read between the lines”. As the other legitimate bloggers will tell you, it takes some knowledge of the reviewer and how he reviews cigars to truly appreciate their opnion. Then you can finally begin to weed through the sea of information and find cigar reviews that speak to your inner aficionado.
Which brings us finally to the topic of this post: How do we review cigars? If you’re a regular reader you know this already — we just smoke ’em. While we appreciate the scientific accuracy to which the major cigar publications and bloggers aspire, that’s not us. We appreciate the fact someone out there is smoking three sticks before writing their review, or going to great lengths to objectify the experience by drinking the same thing, smoking in the same place at the same time of day, etc. It just sounds boring to us.
We here at the Best Cigar Prices blog are good-time smokers. We do it for the pleasure. Are there aficionados among us? You bet. But no one is taking themselves too seriously. As a cigar retailer, we’re here to cater to your own personal tastes. We are in the unique position to see what people like and what people don’t like in the cigar world just by looking at the sales reports. That’s enough objectivity for us, and that’s why all our reviews are casual and extremely subjective.
The review process usually starts like this: we hear enough buzz about a stick, either through word of mouth or online. Then we grab it from our vast humidor and smoke it doing something fun. On the golf course or just socializing with friends, we’re not holding a magnifying glass to the tobacco to detect the faintest hint of white pepper on the finish during the middle third. We’re smoking and having a good time, scribbling down a few notes and taking a fresh perspective the next day when we finally sit down to write the review.
Every day we see a customer order what we think is a horrible cigar, and every day the most amazing stick you ever smoked sits un-purchased. How could we give either of those cigars one star or five? What would it mean?
Cigars are about enjoyment. Quality is not just in the construction and the tobacco… it’s in the experience as well. We’ll leave it to the rest to dissect the product. We’re here to report on the experience, and we hope our readers continue to enjoy our ‘alternative’ cigar reviews.