Where’s The Beef? – A Mr. Jonathan Editorial

Where’s The Beef?
 A Mr. Jonathan Editorial

In a world dominated by number ratings that have begun to mean little to nothing to the end-user, why not change it up? From the master blender down to the rep, cigars are described as though they belong on the menu of a five-star restaurant on some exclusive island off the coast of “It Doesn’t Matter.” They get sexier and sexier from the press release to the final rendition of the band. Years go into the fermentation process, then months into the blend, thousands are spent on artwork, band design, and printing. Then you have advertising, trade shows, and in-store events. Three to five years go by from the brand owners 3am epiphany to the final release and then after all the blood, sweat, tears, and life savings the end result boils down to 2 digits. Cigars are sexy, blending tobacco in third world countries escorted by armed guards is sexy, the thought of them being rolled on the thighs of scantily clad virgins is sexy…Numbers on the other hand, completely suck!

It’s going to be tough but stop thinking about those scantily clad virgins for a moment and think about the love affair men around the world have with their grills. Nothing in this world (virgins not withstanding) is sexier to a man than slapping a 2″ thick, $30 piece of meat on his grill and hearing it sizzle. There is no greater joy than grilling said slab of beef to perfection and serving it to ones friends or family. I think you see where I am going with this…MEAT IS SEXY!

In every review we have tasting notes and the food comparisons so, If we demand the dropping of number ratings we could “Take the Power Back” to quote Rage Against The Machine. Right now, according to The Cigar Authority polls, consumers are suspicious of ratings and believe them to be too high on average. Many smokers claim to have a number threshold (if it gets below a certain number they won’t try it) on cigars rated by their source of choice. Plus by the looks of it many of the top “raters” of cigars will not give their advertisers poor ratings for fear of losing them. Playing “by the numbers” helps those who get good scores (above a 90) and hurts everyone else (89 and lower).

What if a cigar that you would have liked got an 83 and you bought it anyway. Through the power of suggestion the 83 might take over your thoughts and in some way rob you of a portion of your enjoyment. Remember this is a cigar that you would have liked had you smoked it before it was rated. Now you are going into this believing that in some way it is sub par and that is no way to go into anything new. If the reviewer instead of giving a number rating, gave it a score of medium-rare and followed that with its tasting notes would you be more or less inclined to enjoy this smoke that you would have liked before its rating?

The beautiful thing about comparing cigars to meat is that there is no bad choice. Some people like their steak well done and others on the rare side. Plus there is some cross over. You may like your Filet rare and your Flank medium. Using meat as the rating measure would make it possible for all manufacturers to have a fighting chance and to reach their target market. Smokers that like their cigars rated “Rare” would find exactly what they are looking for. I have not met anyone that only smokes cigars rated 92. Reviewing this new way would be more like classifying than rating which could make it easier for the person writing the review.

When evaluating someone else’s creation one needs a way to stay as objective as possible. To a certain degree reviewers and critics are holding the future of that cigar in your hand and are corruptible by numerous factors. Did you pay for that cigar or did the brand give it to you for free? Do you owe someone a favor? Are they an advertiser? If you become swayed even by one point for any reason, up or down, then none of your ratings should count. To be truly objective and connect with your audience on a new level I recommend a new format.

  • Raw – Not ready for market. In the case of a pre-release sample a follow-up of how many months until its ready…That said some people like raw meat so this is still not necessarily a bad thing
  • Rare – Mild as can be strength wise and the flavor separations are subtle.
  • Medium Rare – Mild Plus on the strength and the separations on flavors are sharp and crisp.
  • Medium – Just like it sounds a perfect pairing of flavor and strength
  • Medium Well – Slightly More strength than flavor but the separation and transitions are noticeable
  • Well Done – This rating could be confusing at first. Being “Well Done” May or may not mean the cigar is actually “done well” but the strength is at full and the flavor separations are there but very subtle.
  • Very Well Done – Almost all strength and the flavors are all about the same.

Of course there are other factors that a reviewer needs to address like balance, complexity, aroma, and construction but in the end no numbers are given and no one gets hurt if the manufacturer makes a cigar that performs as a cigar should. In the same way that meat eaters order their steak at a restaurant they could be ordering their cigars from their local tobacconist.

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