Our mission is to provide accurate personalized recommendations to all our members, which is why we offer a free Cigar Sense membership plan. Many cool premium options are available to our paid members, but the free membership also is of interest to cigar lovers who want to give us a try. We designed it so that it delivers value right away, and it’s not just a bait to allow us to ask you for a paid upgrade. Furthermore, it is not time limited, meaning it does not expire after a short trial period. You can remain a free member forever if you wish and we will not ask for your payment information when you sign up. So, no pressure.
In this article we are going to explain our thought process for each of the steps that we ask you to complete when obtaining a free membership. We’ll also explain the benefits of each of the 3 simple steps that you go through when signing up, and how they help you to receive the best cigar recommendations possible.
1. How important are different factors for you when you’re choosing a new cigar?
Once you have activated your account, you are prompted to tell us how important certain factors are when you’re choosing a new cigar to try. You may consider nicotine strength, ring gauge, price, wrapper type or flavor respectively as very important or completely irrelevant.
It’s up to you to tell us what level of importance each of these factors have for you. Imagine you are in front of your favorite tobacconist: wouldn’t s/he want to know how much you care about each of these personal priorities before going into more detailed questions?
2. What are your preferences in gauge, price, nicotine strength and wrapper?
In the following step, you can easily qualify what your initial preferences are: you can select among different ranges of ring-gauge, price, nicotine strength and wrapper type.
The latter gives you the high-level choice of natural and dark. Since our focus is on matching cigars to your personal preferences, we do not recommend cigars to you based purely on biographical cigar data. We likewise do not ask you if you like specific tobacco leaves (e.g. Connecticut shade). It is not correct to infer that, because you once liked a cigar with a Connecticut shade wrapper, you will like any other Connecticut shade wrapped cigars. This would be a poor practice for anyone recommending cigars, since such simplistic recommendations have been shown to be unreliable. In fact, a cigar is more than the sum of each leaf that composes it, and the ultimate flavor and taste depend greatly on the master blender work of art and philosophy. Also, flavor depends on how her/his guidance is applied further from rolling to home storage.
Hence, Cigar Sense aggregates the detailed wrapper color classifications (eg claro, colorado claro, etc) coming from our trained tasters’ analyses to two color groupings – “natural” or “dark” wrappers.
Dark wrappers typically relate to maduro’s or oscuro’s. Given the different processes used to get to a result that is marketed as maduro/oscuro, we have opted for “dark” as the most fair way to distinguish any wrapper that has a dark color appearance.
In the advanced database that our premium members can use, however, we also include hybrid (barber pole) and candela wrappers among many other parameters such as fire-cured, puro’s, brands and many more. We obviously also focus on aromas and tastes / tactile perceptions that are predominant in the cigars in our database. Currently you can apply 21 filters to your advanced database searches, most of them are the result of Cigar Sense detailed sensory analyses.
The gauge, price, nicotine strength and wrapper selections are all we ask at this stage, with the intention to simplify your preference settings and allow us sufficient information to be able to provide your initial personalized recommendations.
3. Tell us 3 cigars you liked
With this last step we ask you to search our database to locate 3 cigars that you know you like. You can enter any part of name, line and brand of the cigar that you have in mind in the search bar, hit enter and see the list of matching results. You can view the analysis for each of the cigars appearing in the search result if you click on the little microscope icon next to each cigar listed. Or you can simply confirm the cigar you liked by clicking on the little “thumb up” icon.
Once you’ve chosen three, the system will derive your aroma and taste preferences by inference, based on the characteristics of those three cigars.
Et voilà, you are served your first personalized recommendations!
With the free Cigar Sense membership, you will see your top 5 personalized recommendations. Premium members have unlimited recommendations. Some members have more than a thousand cigars recommended, all ranked according to their own personal fit to each cigar. This is also why we created the advanced database, which enables the sorting and the saving of filtered lists that reflect real wish lists, very handy when purchasing cigars.
However, if the 5 free personalized recommendations look odd to you, no problem. You have full access to control your personal profile manually.
Control over your personal preferences
One of the most important aspects of the free Cigar Sense membership is that you have full visibility and control over your personal preferences. This is because we want to make sure that even the free service is helpful to you. You can review your personal preferences, from the (1) priorities to the (2) preferences you initially set. And you can then enter into (3) the fun aromas and tastes world. What you will see in the two charts are the preferences that we inferred for you based on the cigars you told us you liked. You will see that the values inferred are all positive, unless you had already modified your profile sometime in the past.
What we strongly advise you to do is to think about any aroma or taste characteristic that you do not like. For instance, if you have an aversion to the bitter taste, you are encouraged to move the slider for that parameter to “Dislike a Little” or even “Dislike Alot” if your aversion is strong. Please bear in mind that bitterness never comes alone in cigars, some slight bitterness is quite common and you may not even notice it. Therefore, you may actually like a cigar that displays a low intensity of bitterness even if you have an aversion for Campari. Also, talking about bitterness, you should be aware that some cultures have a tendency to confuse bitterness with sourness (we wrote about the sour-bitter confusion here). One or more “Dislike Alot” can reduce dramatically the list of your personalized recommendations.
After you have confirmed the change(s), go and revisit your recommendations. They are typically much more accurate when you have gone through this exercise.
Some members asked us why they don’t see only other cigars of the same brand they selected with the 3 cigars they liked. The answer for us is simple. You wouldn’t need Cigar Sense if all you are looking for are cigars of the same brand that you are loyal to. You can very easily ask for other cigars of that brand at your tobacconist.
Brands typically try to offer cigars that appeal to a wide range of conformed palates. This is why Cigar Sense serves those cigar lovers who understand this and want more specific guidance on which cigars best fit their individual taste, even within a specific brand.
If you are one of those cigar lovers, there is no reason not to try the free Cigar Sense membership and explore all the benefits that we offer with it. With the free membership, in addition, you have access to all the free educational material that we offer. Here is the link to try it. We’d appreciate your feedback!