Of cigar tasting the tastes

 

Generally speaking, the “tastes” tend to be referred to as a term used instead of the word “flavor”, which is a more inclusive term denoting the complexity of sensory elements, including those arising from olfaction and tactile systems, in addition to taste.

The five basic tastes are: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory, or umami. They are the backbone of the cigar sensory experience.

Their perception is provided by the molecules in the smoke that get dissolved in our saliva. The places that are mostly receptive to them are our palate, the entrance and mucus of our tongue and our lips.

How does this cigar taste?

As we have mentioned in our article on the Olfactory and Gustatory Senses, at Cigar Sense we simplify the verbiage of mouth and palate perceptions by defining as “mouth” not only the basic tastes, but also the tactile/palate sensations or mouthfeels. The most common tactile sensations that we can find in cigars are Spicy, Creamy and Dry.

Of cigar tasting the tastes

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Some confusion over tastes

Especially found among native English-speaking people, is a phenomenon referred to as the Sour-Bitter confusion. According to some scientific researches, Sour may happen to be called Bitter and vice versa. It seems that one reason for this phenomenon to appear is that the affected people have more cultural experience with sweet and salty foods than with sour and bitter foods. And, of course, the incorrect cultural labeling of typically sour foods as bitter, for instance “bitter lemon”, causes the phenomenon to expand. It is good to be aware of this as it may impact the way you understand your perceptions while tasting a cigar.

Some beliefs and misconceptions

There might also be misconceptions about certain tastes. I noted that some cigar manufacturers tend to like to see creaminess on their cigar profiles they see published. Creaminess is a great attribute to find in a cigar. Many great cigars present this in their profile. However, many other great cigars do not. Therefore, it is important not to judge a cigar based on commonly inherited beliefs. All is a matter of personal preference but, very importantly, of balance.

Another misconception relates to the tongue map.

Of Cigar Tasting - The Tastes

The tongue map, so often reproduced, is wrong and this was debunked many years ago. As Steven D. Munger confirms, it all started in 1901, when “David P Hänig found that there was some small variation around the tongue in how much stimulus it took for a taste to register. He published a line graph plotting the relative change in sensitivity for each taste from one point to the next, not against other tastes. It looked as if different parts of the tongue were responsible for different tastes, rather than showing that some parts of the tongue were slightly more sensitive to certain tastes than others. His graph was re-imagined by Edwin G Boring in the 1940s, in a version that had no meaningful scale, leading to each taste’s most sensitive area being sectioned off in what we now know as the tongue map.”

To recap, every taste receptor, wherever it occurs, can detect all five tastes.

Despite the scientific evidence that each receptor type is found across the whole mouth, the tongue map is still common language in cigar seminars and blogs today. We believe that, after all, it is positive to draw the attention on the mouth sensations overall, even if the support used for it is not correct.

Next steps

If you wish to learn more about cigar tasting, how to fairly evaluate a cigar and how to break down a cigar review, A Cigar Tasting Course might be for you.

You can also log-in or sign-up for free to find the best cigars that suit your unique tastes and learn more about what you like and dislike in a cigar. You will be able to download your copy of our e-book “Cigar Tasting. Beyond the casual, social experience” upon completion of your registration.

 

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Cigar Sense predicts which cigars best fit your personal taste. We are committed to preserve the highest objectivity, integrity and independence in the creation and dissemination of our analyses and industry analytics. This is why we do not sell cigars, nor cigar ads.

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