Backstage: Behind the scenes of the Cigar Journal Blind Tasting

Blind tastings are a tricky business … it’s well known that tastes are different. That’s why we have a team of 15 to 20 testers to judge each cigar. Our tasting panel consists of more than 80 women and men from all parts of the world. These are experienced sensory experts who know what is important for a cigar. Construction, draw resistance, burn, strength, etc. are recorded, and each person logs the development of aromas in the specified tasting formula. The descriptions in Cigar Journal reflect the common sensory perceptions of each participant. The score is calculated as the arithmetical mean of the 15 to 20 records, minus the best and worst evaluations. Of course, we don’t presume to give the only true review of a cigar in this way. We simply want to get as close to the truth as possible and give our readers our opinion. The final judgment is – as always – the consumer.


Once they’ve arrived, the sample cigars are first recorded in a list in the editorial office and prepared for further steps. Here, attention is paid to the packaging and the condition of the cigars




The “technical data,” such as brand, line, format, tobaccos, etc., of the sample cigars are then entered into a database and the cigars are each given a tasting ID, which is sent to the panel members as a “name” and is the classification feature for the editorial office




This is an important step in the preparation, because now the original rings are removed and replaced by the tasting IDs from the database. This makes the samples anonymous and thus “secret”





The individual test cigars are divided into packs of five sticks each, taking into account the brands and sizes. No brand should appear twice in one pack, in order to achieve the greatest possible spread





Because each panel member is supposed to receive samples that are as undamaged as possible, the packs are carefully packed into shipping cartons and dispatched using a shipping list. The postage time should be kept as short as possible




The panel members are informed via e-mail about the dispatch and given a time frame by which the tasting protocols must have arrived back at the editorial office. It’s not always as relaxed as it is here with these two gentlemen



The collected tasting protocols are sorted according to the cigar ID numbers and the individual evaluations are processed into an overall result. This reflects a cross-section of all testers. Outliers above and below are not taken into account



The analysis results yield a ranking of the sample cigars, which is then fed back into the database and leads to an evaluation by points. From this, it can be determined which cigar made the best impression on the panel members






The blind tastings take place four times per year; in addition, there are two annual tasting weekends at which the panel members meet for an exchange. The evaluation is based on a 100-point system; 60 of these cigars can be found in the magazine, the others at

His journalistic career began in 1979 as a freelancer for German-language newspapers in the US, and later for Austrian media including Die Wochenpresse and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. For ten years he also produced programs for over 60 radio stations around the world. In 1994, Reinhold C. Widmayer devoted himself to all things cigar, publishing technical articles in cigar magazines. He began working for Cigar Journal in 2001 and became editor-in-chief in 2005; under his auspices the journal has established itself as the world’s leading cigar magazine.




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