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Cigar Flavors, Aromas & You

Cigar Flavors, Aromas & You


Here, let’s discuss and list some of the most common flavors found in cigars & their aromas.


You might like a certain brand of cigar; but why? It has a certain flavor of course. But have you ever given it more thought than that?  It’s funny, but lots of people smoke a certain type because they have a family member who used to smoke a certain brand. That’s how they learned, “what they like”. But with literally thousands to choose from, from all over the world. The flavors are almost endless. Why not venture out on a cigar flavor expedition of your own?!


A unique aspect about cigars is that they can have certain flavors and aromas when they’re first made. Then, as they age for some time, flavors can change depending how long and if they are aged in a proper environment. Since the aging process changes the cigar, you could have one set of flavors present in the cigar when its first made versus if the cigar is aged for some time it could have different flavors at that point.


You can actually test this theory by buying a few of the same type of cigar at the same time. You would smoke one quickly and record your thoughts and notes about it. Then save the other one and keep it saved in a humidor. After some time, smoke that cigar and see if you detect some different aspects to the cigar than the first one.


Aging Cigars?


This is similar to red wine when it ages. Wine is one of the only other unique items that can change in a positive manner over time. Red Wine is positively affected when it ages as tannins in the wine grow to be more subtle and flavors all come together more developed. Aging changes flavors in the cigar as flavors grow together and become more refined.


Now, talking about the flavors of cigars; it requires that you sit down with a cigar and smoke it from beginning to end. This allows you to see how flavors start and change as the smoke progresses. And, there is more to it than putting a cigar in your mouth.


Smoke with your senses


Taste means using all of your senses. Sight, touch, smell, taste and, yes, even hearing play a role in cigar smoking. Its actually been said that a cigar should be listened to as you roll it between your fingers to determine the moisture content of the wrapper. This would help determine if the cigar is dried out or not.



Flavor Understanding


As stated previously, there’s a lot going on with the flavors in a cigar.  Flavors are always subjective no matter what you’re tasting, as different people have different tolerances for different flavors. For instance, I personally may have a sensitivity to cinnamon and can pick it up easily. But someone may never have ever tasted cinnamon!  So, they wouldn’t be able to know exactly what they’re tasting. Right? It’s all about exploration. If you want to exloe more after finishing the article I have a great cigar course to learn more, here.


The flavors I’m going to mention are just common ones detected in various types of cigars. The next time you smoke a cigar see if you can detect any of these flavors. By knowing what flavors you like and then keep them in mind when smoking a cigar, it helps you find a cigar that has qualities you enjoy.



Flavors & Aromas


Commonly, flavors can be grouped into some different categories.


Plants & Trees






Earth & Mineral




Coffee Chocolate


Now let me go into ore detail with all these flavors.


Plants & Trees

Grass – often found in milder cigars, most notably those that are Connecticut Shade wrapped. And Candela cigars because of the retained chlorophyll often carries this flavor.

Hay – very similar to grass but with that extra barnyard component.

Moss – a lot of mild cigars, generally from the DR and Honduras, can exhibit this flavor. It’s a cross between earth and grass with a bit of must. Puros Indios cigars have this flavor component.

Tea - one of those elusive flavors. Reportedly present in heavily aged cigars.

Tobacco – no stretch here that tobacco tastes like… tobacco. Usually this is used to describe a cigar that has a strong “tobacco core”. Cuban Partagas comes to mind.

Wood – this is a big component in tasting cigars. To me most cigars have some sort of woody component to it. This is most easily detected in milder cigars that are wrapped in Connecticut Shade leaves.

Cedar – a lot of cigars are cedar-aged (in humidors or en cedro) or boxed in cedar cabinets. this is also often a flavor that is imparted on the cigar after the leaves have been fermented and aged in the barns.

Oak – some specialty cigars are oak cask-aged and some have this flavor naturally. It’s reminiscent of tannic qualities in wines, and is often accompanied with a dryness on the palate. Try Aurora Barrel-Aged cigars for this flavor prominently on display.

Smoky – when used it is referring to cigars,  the flavor is of smoked wood like hickory or mesquite.

Vegetal – a general descriptor for a “green” plant-like flavor.



Herbs & Spices

Anise – see licorice.

Cardamom - an herbal warmth like a fragrant cross between eucalyptus, mint, and pepper

Clove - intensely aromatic spice with a subtly sweet flavor

Cinnamon – a similar feeling to eating a Red Hot candy. Cigars loaded with ligero leaves can express this flavor.

Cumin - kind of smoky and woody (some say musky).

Licorice – great flavor found once the sweet spot of the cigar is reached, often detected on the finish.

Pepper – can be found in a lot of Corojo wrapped cigars as well as the heavy ligero cigars Look for further embellishment like white, red and black pepper.

Spicy – this is kind of a weird one. It’s used liberally to describe a cigar that has full flavor, or is very strong, a peppery cigar or a cigar with a lot of the “kitchen” spices (cloves, cinnamon…). Its confusing as it can mean different things to different people.




Floral – a general "perfuminess".


Earth & Minerals

Barnyard – a combination of several flavors: grass, hay and earth often with some mustiness thrown in.

Earth – a cigar that is described as earthy can have a few flavor components to it like soil (dirt), must, and even some flavors like moss. I find this component most in Nicaraguan cigars.

Graphite – Embellished as pencil lead or graphite.

Mineral – a general “mineraly-ness”, mostly lead. Think of rocks

Must – this is a tough one. It’s kind of earthy and dusty but also has an aged feel to it. The best example is Cuban cigars. Cuban cigars = must.

Salt –this can be found in some cigars most notably Cubans



These flavors aren’t that prominent in most cigars but some less expensive types newer to the market are sometimes are marketed with fruit flavors.


Cherry – It’s usually a very subtle flavor to detect. Try La Flor Dominicana cigars, especially the Double Ligero line to pick up cherry.

Citrus – this is a way to describe a cigar that has a certain “bite” to it. It can be both from improper fermentation and also from the tobacco itself. Most Don Pepin Garcia cigars have an acidic (or citrus) flavor component to them.

Molasses - a very sweet flavor.

Orange zest - quite a recognizable flavor.

Raisin – Dried fruit quality



A prominent flavor in lots of cigars. A surprisingly wide variety of nut flavors can be detected in cigars. “Roasted” can often be thrown in front of these flavors to add a smoky element to them.


Almond – a great flavor found, often on the finish.

Marzipan – a sweet almond flavor.

Peanut – every now and then I can get a peanut note in milder Connecticut Shade cigars. Peanut butter is also used sometimes.

Pistachio – very mild flavor that can be a little sweet

Walnut – a nuttiness that’s a little dry on the palate.




Bread – an often disliked flavor. Can be further embellished as toast or dough.

Char – a combination of flavors: meaty and smoky.

Caramel – creamy caramelized sugar! Some Cameroons can exhibit this flavor.

Chocolate – this is a flavor  picked up more in the finish than in the initial inhale/exhale and is found often in Connecticut Broadleaf wrapped cigars. This can be further detailed, as dark or milk chocolate and cocoa.

Coffee – great flavor most often found in the finish and sweet spots. Can be embellished further as mild coffee, espresso, roasted coffee beans, café au lait (coffee w/ a creaminess), etc.

Cream – not really the flavor of milk, but the general description of the type of flavors. Most creamy cigars are mild and most are of the Connecticut Shade variety.

Honey - Described often in aged cigars.

Leather – A favorite cigar flavor component. Leather “taste” really shows up in the exhale and finish and is tasted mostly through the nose. For some reason the Rosado shade yields the most leather flavor, so look for this in Opus X and Partagas Spanish Rosados.

Meaty – the flavor of grilled hamburger comes to mind. A lot of rich maduros, especially from Nicaragua, can have this flavor.

Mocha – a combination of chocolate and coffee flavors. This shows up often in the last third of a cigar once you reach the “sweet spot”.

Musk - also known as the "animal" flavor.

Sweet – there’s artificial sweet (sweet-tipped) and then there’s natural sweet. Natural sweetness is used to describe a cigar that has a general sugary flavor whether it be something like caramel, cocoa or marzipan. Many maduros are often described as sweet.


Additionally Others

Acidic – see “Citrus” in the fruit section.

Ammonia – not really a flavor, it’s actually what you are tasting - ammonia. Ammonia is a by-product of tobacco fermentation. Improper fermentation and aging will result in a lot of ammonia left in the cigar. A huge turn-off for cigar lovers.

Chewy - again, not really a flavor, more of an experience. A cigar where the smoke has an apparent texture to it in your mouth would be considered “chewy”.

Dry - just like wines and tea, a cigar that has that tannic quality that dries out your mouth and teeth. Found mostly in Connecticut Shade cigars – think Davidoff.


Who would’ve thought that there were so many different flavors found in cigars. Once you smoke a few, and actually pay attention you’ll be surprised how many flavors you can pick up on. They key is experimentation if you’re a novice. Try all different colors and sizes as they both effect the flavor you taste. Want to learn more about cigars? Try a top rated cigar course. One of only a few of its kind. Check it out here. We’re more than one of those average schools for bartending. I bet you they won’t teach you about cigars!


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