Reaching into the nearly-overflowing humidor full of sticks that need reviews, and grabbing one to try scoring a little differently. I'm going to be smoking an Avo Domaine 10, and I'll be scoring it according to both my current scoring system and my newer system, to see if shifting the weight of the point assignments has a significant effect on the overall score.
The system I use now (and have been using) scores cigars in five areas: Appearance; Construction; Burn; Flavor; and Aroma. Each of these is weighted as follows:
Appearance, 1 point
Construction, 3 points
Burn, 2 points
Flavor, 3 points
Aroma, 1 point
These are further divided up among themselves as appropriate, averaged out, and then totaled together to reach a final score between 0 and 10. The new system uses the same five categories, but weights them differently:
Appearance, ½ point
Construction, 4 points
Burn, 4 points
Flavor, 1 point
Aroma, ½ point
The new system reflects a greater emphasis on the construction and burn qualities of the cigar, since the rest is all highly subjective, and rests on personal taste, rather than a consistent means of scoring a product. But cigars are special; they are meant to be enjoyed for exactly these reasons. It is the feel of the cigar in the fingers, the smells it gives off before and after lighting, the taste of the smoke, that make the experience what it is; this is why we cannot eliminate these factors from the score outright. But with more focus on the physical, objective qualities of the cigar, I hope to at least provide a score that is more useful in helping you, as a reader, to get a better sense of how well-constructed a cigar is, and then experience the taste for yourself.
I'm still trying to come up with a better way of scoring cigars, though; so, tonight, and probably for the next few reviews, I'll be using both systems, just to get a feel for how much difference there is between the two.
Cigar: Avo Domaine 10
Vitola: Robusto (5 1/8” x 50)
Price: About $6.75/stick
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Rating (out of 10): 9.1 (by both scoring systems)
The band is classic Avo design, though each blend features its own unique color motif; the Domaine's band is gold, eggshell white, and a deep plum purple.
Am I the only one who still thinks of Professor Plum from the board game Clue every time I hear the word “plum?” I could kind of see him lighting up an Avo Domaine, in the lounge, with the candlestick.
That's purely imaginative, by the way. You don't ever want to light a cigar from a candle. You'll not only be smoking tobacco, but also wax particulate. The smoke will taste like you're eating crayons.
The wrapper is milk chocolatey brown in color, with a few light veins, and a noticeably oily sheen. There is one very minimal tear in the outer wrapper around halfway up the stick, but it doesn't expose the binder.
Just the right amount of give to this stick between the fingers. No significant damage, aside from the tiny crack mentioned above, and the cap is flawless and cuts perfectly (as usual, I used my punch cutter).
Pre-light, the barrel offers scents of leather and hay. The foot smells of cocoa with something quite floral in there that I can't quite put my finger on.
The cold draw is perfect, and offers a subtle hint of cocoa with a pinch of salt on the finish. Once lit, there's a bit of black pepper that comes through right away. Definitely cedar, with something else I can't yet identify, and rich, sweet cocoa on the finish.
I'm getting notes of peanut, and something almost,but not quite, meaty. It's like a meaty pepper zest upfront, with cedar and peanut notes, and a cocoa finish.
For some reason, my mind is circling around spiced deli meats, but that's not what I'm tasting...
Mustard. It's like a spicy brown mustard. Not that yellow Heinz garbage, but a nice, dark, stone-ground mustard.
The burn is mostly even, but did require a slight touchup about ¾ of an inch in. The ash is white and looks a little loose. Sure enough, it drops off easily with the slightest tap.
I was worried I was going to have to do another touchup just before the second third, but it self-corrected just in time.
Of course, the burn self corrected, and then went too far in that direction, and I wound up having to touch up the burn on the other side, instead.
The mustard notes fade slightly, and the second third showcases the cedar and peanut flavors. The mustard has rolled over to the finish now, and the cocoa is almost not even there now.
Another touchup just before the last third.
In the last third, the cocoa flavor really comes back into the profile, taking a more prominent position. The mustard starts to fade, allowing the cedar and peanut to creep back in.
The burn seems to have evened out, which would normally be great... but since I'm trying to get a feel for these two scoring systems, with the crucial difference being the effect of the burn on the score, I could kind of use a little more trouble, at least for now.
Also, I could use some more of these cigars. They've got quite a unique flavor profile, and the different flavors harmonize quite nicely in this composition.
About an inch left to go, and there's that spicy mustard again.
I very much enjoyed this blend, and it reiterates what I discovered long ago about cigars; that flavors I don't like in food or drinks, I find quite tasty in a cigar. For example, I'm not a huge fan of either coffee or mustard, but cigars with these flavors have never disappointed me. Maybe I should give them more of a chance outside of smoking. Still not that yellow crap, though. Can't stand yellow mustard.
The real surprise, though, was that the cigar got the same score under both scoring systems. Could just be an outlier, so I'll have to do a few more reviews using both systems before I determine whether or not I just need to go back to the drawing board again. But I don't have my answer yet. What I do know, is that I need to get my hands on more of these.
And I might also need to get in touch with one of my many photographer friends to set up a “Professor Plum” shoot with this stick... because the mental image is just too good to ignore. And with that Mustard flavor, I may need somebody else to pose as Colonel Mustard...