Among the elements of cigar tasting, the complexity is a horizontal dimension. It looks at proportion, variety and quality of the aromatic palette. It differs from evolution, which is a vertical dimension (Giuseppe Elefante). As we wrote in a recent article, complexity is a key parameter which needs to be observed in terms of how it converges together with organoleptic quality, balance, evolution and persistence in order to appreciate the overall organoleptic characteristics of a cigar.
Of Cigar Tasting : The Complexity
Supported by palate perceptions (tastes) and by nicotine strength, aromas contribute to the greatest part of our flavor perceptions when we taste a cigar.
Together with finesse and clearness (which represent the aromatic quality parameter), we can say complexity is a subjective way to observe the depth and breadth of the aromas that we perceive in the lit cigar. We can identify nuances or dominant aromas. These can be spread over the various categories in the aromas wheel (nut, animal, fruit, toasted,…), or could also be appearing as different aromas within the same category (nut: walnut, fresh walnut, hazelnut,…). The intensity we perceive is the unit of measure.
Complexity and Variety, Quantity, Proportion
A few members told us that when they see aromas over different sectors of the Cigar Sense aroma charts, this means the cigar is complex. We want to explain here how to read our charts, which will also serve to further clarify what complexity is and what it is not.
Let’s look at the aromatic profile of two cigars to help illustrate the idea of complexity:
Aromatic profile of cigar #1
Aromatic profile of cigar #2
Let’s look at the aromatic profile of cigars #1 and #2 in more detail. Bear in mind, in our work this is never the representation of one palate, but of many palates: the consolidated view of the various panelists blind tests. The lighter the color, the lighter the overall aroma intensity perceived:
Does this level of detail tell us more about the cigar complexity?
Complexity and Quality
While this data gives more insight on variety, quantity and proportion of aromas, it does not give immediate information on quality. We also need the aggregate of a separate evaluation parameter which takes the finesse of aromas into account. Cigar Sense adds this evaluation in the tables underneath the flavor charts in each cigar analysis.
These are the key published parameters for cigar #1:
In this case our cigar was judged by every panelist who tested it to be highly complex.
And these are the key published parameters for cigar #2:
If you look at the parameters “organoleptic richness” (balance) and evolution, you can see in action how some of the organoleptic characteristics are interconnected. It is indeed hard to find an unbalanced cigar with excellent complexity. Balance in aromas, tastes and nicotine strength can be seen as a prerequisite for the finesse in the aromas to be displayed.
What do the Cigar Sense aromas charts tell us then? They provide an easy to read snapshot of your potential to find the represented aromas if you taste another sample of that cigar. It’s possible that most aromas groups in the chart might show up, some may be with higher or lower intensity than the panel aggregate results. This method serves our core recommendation service, which carefully considers all aromas that a cigar could present. It is important because, for instance, if one of our members highly dislikes fruit, cigar #1 might be appearing low or not at all in the member’s recommendations list, based on the slight level of fruit we recorded among the various aromas.
In summary, complexity is about proportion, variety and quality of aromas and how these are intertwined together, not merely about:
- seeing as many aromas as possible on the charts
- identifying as many aromas as possible