The Tiki Bar's cigar reviews are normally based on a "one-stick" method of reviewing, meaning that the review you see is based on smoking a single sample cigar and rendering an opinion on it. Like all methods, this one has its pros and cons.
Taking the "cons" side first: if we get a bad sample, the cigar may get a review it does not deserve. On the "pros" side: this is how most people smoke cigars--if the first one they smoke does not impress them, they are unlikely to buy it again.
Many of the cigars reviewed here are actually "first impression" sticks--the first time we smoked them at all was when we reviewed them for publication. Other cigars may have been smoked multiple times before the "review stick"; we strive to always identify if it is a "first smoke" or approximately how many we have smoked previously.
The blog was initially begun for our own journaling aspect--so we could remember what we liked and did not like--so this method fits perfectly for that intent. When we feel a cigar may have been unfairly characterized (because of popular acclaim or propensity of positive reviews in other places) we am not opposed to giving a cigar a second chance and posting a new review; it's happened at least twice.
We have two sets of numbers under each cigar review. First is a 1 to 10 scale for each cigar in the categories of Body, Strength, and Complexity. Body is most closely defined for this scale as the intensity of flavor and fullness in the mouth. Oily cigars with a long-finish and intense flavor would most likely be rated with a high number; delicate more nuanced cigars would get a lower rating (milder). Strength is all about the level of nicotine. If a cigar inspires a need to "do the technicolor yawn" then it will score highly here. Complexity has to do with the number of observable flavors from the cigar as well as the changes that occur from the first third to the second to the third. A cigar does not have to score big here to get a great rating, but it helps!
The second set of numbers is the AFP Scale. This scale was devised by a now-defunct blog called "An American Front Porch" where it was referred to as "Everyman's Scale." What I like about this scale is its simplicity and weighting of the different categories. Prelight counts for 2 out of 10 points (20 percent). It takes into account the appearance of the cigar, including the attractiveness of the band and wrapper, as well as the aromas from the wrapper and foot and the prelight flavors. Construction counts for another 2 possible points and is concerned with how well the cigar draws, how even the burn line is (and whether it requires touching up), and how well the the whole things stays together (unraveling tobacco loses points). Flavor accounts for half of the possible points for a cigar. Was the flavor good? What is complex? If it was not complex, was it outstanding? Cigars only go so far on appearance, so flavor is the most important part of rating a stick. Value deals with whether the cigar was worth the money spent on it. I tend to skew toward the $7 to 10 price range most of the time, but I have given full "Value" points on more expensive sticks. Conversely, a cheap stick may still not get full points if I do not consider it worth the price of admission.
It is important to note that these ratings are based on our opinions and are completely subjective. If we liked a stick, it does not mean you will; if we hated it, you may still love it. You can disagree with us without being wrong (and vice versa). If you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave a comment at any time.
We also feature Cigar Extra reviews at least once a week, usually on Saturday. These are short, ungraded reviews and normally focus on either a cigar we have reviewed previously (but in a different vitola or as a "revisit" of one that may have received a poor initial review) or a cigar that we are contemplating putting up for a full review later on.