Serious questions for reviewers, consumers & smokers, and owners of cigar companies.

  I am curious to start a discussion regarding reviews and construction issues.  For example, if I am smoking a cigar for review purposes, if it blows up, normally I do not finish the review.  If I have to relight it five times and it tars up, the flavor is ruined so reviewing it makes no sense as the notes turn to bitter tar.  So I would like to hear from all sides, what would you do in this situation?  

  For the reviewers, do you finish the review and let consumers know, even though it may be a one time issue and risk pissing off a company?  I have a hard time dealing with this as I strive to be as objective as possible and give consumers honest feedback.

  For company owners, do you want to know your cigars are blowing up or smoking poorly?  I have honestly had a few that I still loved after the fact, but cannot objectively review as the wrapper interplay is ruined.  I can think of a couple cigars that exploded I have re-bought  but it is hard for me to recommend those objectively to another consumer.   I can think of one popular company specifically, I have had nothing but problems with, but have a hard time telling anyone as so many love them.

  Also to the company owner, would you prefer the reviewer contact you and let you know?

  For the consumer, would you prefer reviewers post reviews that end abruptly in such a manner?  For example, notes on first third, notes on second third...then explosion and review is over.  Or had to relight it 5 times and it tastes like an old cigarette.

  Last but not least, I admit I have tossed reviews that I know my subjectivity plays too large a role in.  Just like everyone else, I have my own tastes, so when I smoke something I do not like, and I feel that my objectivity is being compromised for review purposes, I choose not to post. I understand people work hard at blending cigars for their tastes and their customer's tastes, which may not be mine. Do you guys agree or disagree with this practice?  Would you rather have me tell you I did not like something and would not re-buy it, or toss the review?  I have many times not liked a cigar, but appreciated whom it is blended for, and made recommendations accordingly.

   Here's to Memorial Day weekend and plenty of smokes in honor of our countries heroes.

  Follow me @CatfishBluezz on Twitter

Views: 138

Comment by RobbyRas on May 25, 2013 at 1:54pm
I have some opinions on this, but I'm at the ballpark and really don't want to type it all out on my phone... I'll be back... Glad this was brought up
Comment by Evan on May 25, 2013 at 2:00pm
Funny I had this conversation with a rep last night. I've definitely tossed a few and not finished the review. If asked about a certain cigar that I had trouble with, I have no problem sharing it privately. I also try to bring to the company's attention and explore what happened and why. I feel a sense of duty to share these experiences with consumers but also feel bad bashing a company, especially if the problem could be attributed to many factors. But sometimes a bad cigar is just a bad cigar... My 2 pennies ;-)
Comment by Fatkid on May 25, 2013 at 2:29pm

This is coming from a consumer side of things:  Finish the review.  Explain the issues.  There are way too many reviews out there that sing the praises of every single cigar.  They don't explain the issues that they had, or if they do it is a really tiny note in the burn/construction and then blow over it.  I want to know if a specific cigar is having issues so i can stay away from it.  

Questions on flavor are one thing and if your subjectivity gets in the way i get throwing that one out, but burn issues or construction issues aren't exactly subjective    

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 25, 2013 at 3:04pm

   Brian, as a fellow consumer, I totally agree.  However, as a reviewer, i find it hard to trash a company on one cigar.  Plenty of my reviews talk about how much I liked something, others I respectfully suggest who i think would like them if it did not fit my palate.

  For example, let's say I get one of Company A's cigars for review.  I smoke it, it cracks, and really goes south, but only got one.  As a consumer, i typically might buy one more if I liked it, and never judge a company off one cigar. Plenty of times this has happened, and then I loved the line.  I can think of several examples that i had terrible initial experiences, then gave it another chance, and now are staples.  As a reviewer, I may never sit down and review that again, so is it objective to review the problem I had even though it may be a once in a million problem? Would you want to be the guy that gives a company a bad rep based off one cigar?  What if i did not like the flavor profile and it blew up?  It would be hard for me to objectively review at that point or recommend accordingly.  

  I guess my problem is as a reviewer, I typically only smoke one cigar for review, as I do not have time to smoke 2-3. In my experience as a consumer, I have had plenty of bad firsts that turned into staples of my humi.  I could name several prominent brands that this happened with, and plenty of prominent brands that probably include your favorites that were the opposite.  

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 25, 2013 at 3:07pm

  And for reference, this all came up as last night I smoked one of my top 12 COTY last year and it blew up LOL...  So, I could have easily smoked that one for review, trashed the company, and lost out on a staple in my humi.  Make sense?

Comment by The Cigar Lector (Tony) on May 25, 2013 at 3:25pm

Very interesting thoughts.  I'll share a few of mine.  I always TRY to smoke a cigar at least twice before publishing a review.  However, I think we all know that isn't always possible; either lack of time, lack of cigars or other situations lend themselves to a one smoke review.  

Like you said sometimes a company will send you cigars to review and in some cases only will send a single cigar.  If that is the case I tend to stop the review if I run into a serious issue and contact the company privately.  My hope is that they will stand by their product and send another one out only strengthening their review in the long run.  This is one of the reason when a company sends a cigar out I ask that they consider sending more than one so I can assess them fairly.

If it is a cigar I purchased I generally have more than one in the first place and will immediately smoke another if I run into a catastrophic failure.  

However, I think as reviewers we owe it to the consumer/reader to give a fair and honest assessment of cigars we publish about.  It is a tough road to travel though, I want to make sure I earn (and keep) the trust and loyalty of my reader, but I also don't want to seem like I am unfairly bashing a manufacturer.  With all of my published reviews I always notify the manufacturer, whether the review was good or bad.  Hopefully, in the event of a bad review (experience) the manufacturer responds and offers something to the table.  The manufacturers are so approachable (friendly, mom and pop) in the cigar industry that I think we sometimes forget that they ARE business people.  Any real business person does appreciate use learn from both positive and negative feedback and I believe they should welcome it.  

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 25, 2013 at 3:38pm

  It's a fine line between building trust with both ends really, which is why I want to engage in the conversation really.  

Comment by The Cigar Lector (Tony) on May 25, 2013 at 3:46pm

I totally agree.  Something else I didn't comment on before...the idea of throwing out reviews because they don't fit your taste.  So, my solution for that on my site is my "Quick Smoke" posts.  Basically, cigars I find that don't really fit my personal flavor wheel and I think I might not be able to judge fairly I categorize as a "Quick Smoke".  I try to give a description of the cigar, any flavors I might have noted, and how the burn was, etc...  I don't however give these reviews any ratings or give any opinion.  I give as much fact as possible without passing judgement.  That has been my solution, because I know a cigar I might HATE there are thousands out there that may LOVE it.  I think the first I did that with was the Cu Avano Punisher...  That thing is not for me...but I've seen plenty of other folks really like it.  I also had a problem with that one because I don't take well to spicy things anyway and it ruined my sense of taste for almost the entire cigar, so I found no fair way to evaluate it.

Comment by Matt Ross on May 25, 2013 at 5:38pm

I expect reviews to have more than one experience with a cigar before posting a review on it.  In some positive cases, I can understand that, but in the case you describe - with burn/construction issues - I think its a requirement that the reviewer has at least 2 examples of the issues before blogging about it.  With handmade products, we can always encounter a bad batch, or even a bad one.

Along the same lines, I think you risk ruining your credibility by only posting positive reviews.  You shouldn't be afraid to post negative reviews - not every cigar is great nor do we all love every cigar.

Comment by Catfishbluezz on May 25, 2013 at 6:09pm
Here's another take Matt. Given I buy the cigars I review, it's hard to want to buy another if the first explodes lol.

As far as reviewing cigars I don't like, I absolutely have. I always try and put it in a manner that is respectful and geared toward those whom might like it. I also tend to review good cigars as blind as possible, and rarely grab cheapie stuff as the majority of my early days were spent smoking crap I wouldnt touch now. I think I've actually become more objective over time and able to suggest smokes at my B&M based on my experiences. Guys like Rob and I have very different tastes, so when I encounter someone who likes what he likes, I suggest the blenders he gravitates to. He also seems to know exactly what I'll like too since we've gotten to know each others tastes over this past year.

On another forum, a member made a great suggestion to contact the manufacturer first. If it is handled properly, then go forward with the review after the replacement and report the positive experience. If not, report the experience you had. Funny thing is, I had that happen with a review once and have established a great bond with the company involved now.

Honestly, Im really enjoying this discussion as I strive for objectivity and to respect everyone's individual taste and people who work hard at delivering us fine hand made products.


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