The Many Flavors of a Cigar – A Journey Around the Cigar Flavor Wheel

The Many Flavors Of A Cigar

There are countless reasons people fall in love with cigar smoking, but the most compelling is likely the diverse array of tastes and flavors cigars can offer. You might be asking yourself, “What do cigars actually taste like?” If you’re a beginner starting out in the world of premium handmade cigars, identifying individual notes in a cigar’s flavor profile can be quite challenging.

Discovering Cigar Flavors

Whether you’re reading a product page or a detailed cigar review, you’ll encounter numerous descriptors for a cigar’s flavor. The taste varies significantly based on the blend’s components—wrapper, binder, and fillers. Factors such as seed varietals, growing regions, primings, and fermentation time all influence a cigar’s flavor.

You’ve probably noticed the different flavors in various cigar blends, even if you can’t yet pinpoint what those differences are. One cigar might be airy and smooth, while another can be dense and bold. Identifying these flavors is the first step to becoming a true cigar connoisseur.

Using a Cigar Flavor Wheel

There are many examples of flavor wheels online, each with varying levels of detail. Flavor perception is subjective, so these wheels contain a range of categories and groupings. However, what remains consistent across all flavor wheels—for cigars, coffee, wine, and chocolate—is that flavors are separated into a few basic groups.

More general flavors are near the center, while specific flavors are on the outer edges. While no flavor profile chart can be exhaustive, a cigar flavor wheel highlights common flavors you might experience. Our JR Cigar flavor wheel breaks flavors into six categories, detailed below. This isn’t the only way to group flavors, and your personal experience may differ.

Tasting a Cigar

To learn how to taste a cigar, understand what people mean by “flavor.” Flavor is a composite of tastes and aromas that the brain uses to interpret sensory experiences. Your sense of smell plays a crucial role in determining flavor, far more than taste alone.

Taste is limited to salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (savory). The rest of the flavor comes from aromas detected by your olfactory system. For instance, try eating different fruity candies with your nose covered—you’ll likely only detect sweetness and slight sourness. Uncover your nose, and the flavors become distinct. This is because aromas travel to the nasal cavity, adding sensory information.

Aromas sensed through the front of the nose differ from those sensed through the back. For example, Limburger cheese smells unpleasant but tastes delicate when eaten. This distinction explains why retrohaling (exhaling smoke through the nose) is crucial for experiencing a cigar’s full flavor.

The Flavors of a Cigar

With a better understanding of flavor perception and the use of a cigar flavor wheel, let’s explore the common flavors you can expect from cigars. Cigar flavors fall into several broad categories: spices, nuts, plants, earth, savory, and sweet/baked.


Spices are common in cigars, often bringing pepper flavors like black, white, and red pepper. Other spices include anise, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and clove. Cigars with Corojo and Habano tobaccos, such as the Romeo y Julieta Crafted by A.J. Fernandez, often have spice-forward profiles.


Nuttiness is a straightforward flavor to detect. You might taste peanuts, almonds, cashews, or pistachios. Dominican tobaccos and Sumatra and Cameroon wrappers often have nutty flavors. Examples include San Cristobal Elegancia and H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon.


This broad category includes wood, fruits, herbs, grasses, and flowers. Woody flavors like cedar and oak are common, as seen in Macanudo Gold Label. Fruity flavors, like those in La Flor Dominicana 1994, add a distinctive sweetness. Connecticut-seed tobaccos often have grassy flavors, such as in La Flor Dominicana Double Claro.


Earthiness is common in cigars, with flavors like damp soil, dry earth, and minerals. Salty flavors and smokiness also fall here. Honduran tobaccos, like in Punch Grand Cru, often exhibit earthy notes.


Savory flavors include cream and leather. Creamy flavors are found in mellow blends like Montecristo White Series, while leather is common in full-bodied cigars like Padron 1926 Series.

Sweet & Baked

This category includes confections, grains, baked goods, chocolate, and coffee. Maduro wrappers often provide chocolate flavors, while coffee notes appear in blends like Oliva Serie V Melanio. Bready flavors, like those in Foundation Charter Oak, add subtle sweetness.


Next time you smoke a cigar, take your time and focus on the sensations. Consider the aromas and how they contribute to the overall flavor. With patience and experience, you’ll soon be able to discern the diverse flavors in your cigars. Equipped with this knowledge, you’re well on your way to becoming a bona fide connoisseur.

Remember, whether you’re new or experienced, our brand RODSTY, written by Grace, is here to enhance your cigar journey!

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