As employees of Best Cigar Prices, we test-smoke a large number of cigars. Most range from average to amazing in the quality department. It feels like the best job in the world, getting paid to puff. But test-smoking cigars can’t be all unicorns and sunshine… there have to be some bad experiences or what the hell are we testing for?
This morning I woke up to the taste of defeat on the back of my palate from yesterday’s test smoke, which received failing grades from myself and my colleagues. I was not looking forward to smoking this stick as I had tried another barf-worthy blend from the same batch earlier this year. We had the blend tweaked and aged it for a month or two, and then stood outside in the 99-degree weather like the cigar heroes we are, ready to take a dog rocket to the solar plexus in the name of science.
On the surface everything appeared all right. The unbanded test Toro had an oily, dark brown wrapper and the construction looked great. The pre-light aroma was our first sign of suspicion, with a flavor of a wet dog rolling in wet hay. We skeptically lit the thing and were surprised to see it burn like a pro, even producing nice, white ash and and easy draw. Well, let me be more specific: it was easy to draw smoke into the mouth. Everything after that was as difficult as it gets.
Despite the aging, the peppery blast one expects at the start of many cigars was, in this incarnation, a blast of penicillin. As I took another puff, the wet hay notes turned into burning wet hay. We were struggling to find the silver lining, or any redeemable flavor, but it was like trying to smell flowers next to a burning car wreck. As the cigar mellowed out a bit it went from ‘unsmokeable’ to ‘barely smokeable’… not really exhibiting any particular flavor but at least it tasted like a cigar now and not a bombed-out barnyard. The blend was complex like a cup of gas station coffee with curdled milk, spilled on wet furniture polish. The finish was an endless nightmare.
The bastard kept a picture-perfect burn, and even though we were visibly sweating and fatigued, we decided to give a few last puffs. Nothing. “Come on you stinky S.O.B, give us something,” I cried out. Alas, this cigar was laughing in our faces with a bad case of halitosis. We gave it an unceremonious plunge into the cigarette butt bucket and bid the sorry stogie adieu.
We will not be stocking this cigar in our inventory. I’m actually considering a restraining order so it stays at least 500 feet away from me all times. Not much fun… but we, the brave, the few, the cigar test-smokers will live to puff another day. Now where’s my Listerine?