You’ll find a number of scoring systems across the cigar and spirits world: 100 point, 10 point, 5 point scales, and letter grades. All have unique strengths and like everything else in life, all are imperfect.
In 2016, Fine Tobacco NYC moved to a a 100 point scale system. Here’s what those scores mean.
- 100: this cigar or spirit facilitates a religious experience where fundamental ideas and presuppositions about reality, consciousness, and being itself are rearranged. If this ever happens, we’ll probably cease caring about reviews and shut the site down.
- 96 – 99: spectacular in every way. Nearly impossible to critique or imagine any improvements to the experience.
- 91 – 95: excellent. This is product at the top of the market. If economical it deserves a permanent spot on your shelf or humidor, or if pricey is a guaranteed win as a celebratory product.
- 86 – 90: very good. Above average in the market but with some noticeable flaws.
- 81 – 85: about average. Decently enjoyable, but has substantial drawbacks that are more or less obvious.
- 75 – 80: has moments of flavor but is fundamentally flawed in some way.
- 74 and under: inferior product. Not worth your time or money.
To determine to our scores, we consider a number of factors, chief of which are construction, smoke production, complexity, harmony of flavors, and overall enjoyability.
We are aware of the critique that reviews done on this scale rarely fall below 75, which means most of the scale is seldom used. This is true, but there are two good explanations for this, particularly with respect to cigars.
- Time: photographing and reviewing a cigar takes two to three hours per cigar, and there are thousands of cigars on the market. We simply don’t have time to review product we know to be inferior or uninteresting. That means that for the most part, we aren’t reviewing cigars in the $1 – $3 range or spirits at the very lowest end of the price spectrum.
- Product quality: most cigars that you’ll find at a premium cigar retailer are actually pretty decent. Why? Because store owners have to be very selective about stocking products that have consistent quality and continue to sell. Catalogs and factory seconds sold online or via mail order don’t have this constraint, which is why they are cheaper and inferior in quality.