December 28th, 2020
From The Tuna:
After reviewing cigars for three years now, I have found that the original system I had in place has had some flaws. While no system is perfect to begin with, I have found that I can improve my rating system for my readers. This will definitely make it harder on brand owners and manufacturers, as they will begin see lower scores, but it is more important for the readers to get a better sense of how the cigar smokes. After all, this is done for the readers and I am not here to make manufacturers and brand owners feel better about themselves or their products.
When I initially set up my system, there were 20 points in all for Appearance and Aroma. At the time, I believed these factors were important as they accounted for 20% of the final rating, and they were positive factors that contributed to good or great cigar. However, with time I have seen that these were easy points earned. We can all say that we love a cigar with a beautiful wrapper and amazing aroma, but at the end of the day we know that those factors do not play a huge part in a cigar smoking well and being very enjoyable. Because of this realization, that has taken three years to come to fruition, I am cutting back the points for those two categories.
Beginning immediately, you will begin to see my new rating system put into place. No longer will Appearance and Aroma account for 20 points total, but instead those two categories will account for a total of ten (10) points. Those two categories will also become one category, and that category will simply be called Appearance & Aroma. Those remaining ten (10) points will be divided and moved to Smoking Characteristics and Overall Impression.Smoking Characteristics will now be worth 20 points, and Overall Impression will be worth 40 points.
As mentioned earlier, you will begin to see a scoring system that is harder on cigars, but I believe it is important that readers get a better sense of how the cigar actually is. It has taken me a couple years to get to this level, but I believe this will be an improved and better system. It is not a perfect rating system, there is no such system, but it is a more accurate system in my opinion. For now on, if you see a cigar getting in the low 90's, it is definitely worth pick up. If you see a cigar in the mid 90's, you know you should get a box. And if you see a cigar get in the high 90's, you need to get multiple boxes. I expect a lot of ratings to be in the mid to upper 80's for now on, but there may be come that are lower and higher. Below is an idea of how I would use my ratings on a purchasing level, and also the breakdown of how I rate cigars.
- Appearance & Aroma - 10 Points (wrapper quality, the cap, veins, aroma of foot and wrapper, cold draw, etc.)
- Smoking Characteristics - 20 Points (burn quality, canoeing, tunneling, coning, runners)
- Flavor - 30 Points (What do I taste? Is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter? More in depth- chocolate, leather, coffee, wood, etc.)
- Overall Impression - 40 Points (How was the smoke overall, would I but it again, would I recommend it, etc.)
Using My Rating System To Determine Purchasing Power:
- Rating Between 85 and 88: This is a cigar that you get one or two of to smoke. They are not worth getting a lot of, but more picking up to enjoy the experience and taste something unique or new. It may have a unique wrapper or entertaining flavor profile that makes it worth purchasing, but not getting a handful to have some take up space in the humidor.
- Rating Between 89 and 92: This is a cigar that you get a handful of for the humidor. I think everyone says "5 pack" nowadays, thank you CI for that. It is a good cigar, but not something that is completely mind blowing and worthy of being a box purchase.
- Rating Between 93 and 96: This is a cigar that is box-worthy. You can smoke your way through most of the box, but at the same time age some and hold on to some for reserves.
- Rating Between 97 and 100: This is a cigar that you buy multiple boxes of. You throw one aside to age, and the other you smoke from on special occasions or frequently, depending on the production level.
How The Top 25 Works: (updated December 28th, 2020)
Note: If you wonder how a cigar makes it into my Top 25 List of that year, it is very simple. On December 1st of each year, I begin compiling a list of cigars that I have smoked. These cigars are scored and are added to a list of cigars. That list continues to grow until November of the following year, the year in which my Top 25 will come out. Any cigar in that list, whether I have reviewed it in previous years or it is a brand new review has the potential of making it into Seth's Humidor Top 25 Cigars. I look at the cigars I smoked in those 11 months and not just new releases or reviews of that year. If it was great two years, and it is great right now, then it qualifies. From there I begin to cut down the list by re-smoking some cigars, comparing them with cigars that have similar rankings to see who makes the cut, and also removing some cigars entirely because the previous scores I had were so low. With that system, I eventually work it down to 25 cigars and from there it is easy to determine the placement of the cigars.