CigarScore Podcast

6 Mystery Cigar Blind Taste Test: Premium vs House Brands!

Ellory Wells published on

Today we're doing something a little different. Back in the early part of August, Bradley Reith from Zeal Cigars invited people to test their palate.

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Instead of a normal taste test, the challenge was to see if we could differentiate a premium cigar from his house cigars. Putting his house brands up against some of the biggest and best names in the cigar industry is a pretty ballsy move, but I took the bait and accepted the challenge.

As I'll explain in the video below, the challenge asked us to "score" each of six mystery cigars. These cigars ranged in size, flavor, and quality, and I had no idea what each cigar was. This was truly a double-blind study.

Below, you'll find a video with all of the reviews in a familiar format. You'll see me smoke each cigar (except the third, I seemed to have deleted the footage), and review each one.

At the end, we'll both learn the truth - can I tell the difference between a premium cigar and a house brand?


Mystery Cigar #1: Premium
Draw: 4
Light/Burn: 5
Look: 5
Flavor: 4
Final Score: 4
Smoking Notes: My guess is that this cigar is Dominican with either a Habano or Sumatra wrapper - something exotic. Reminds me of a Rocky Patel Decade.

Mystery Cigar #2: House
Draw: 5
Light/Burn: 4
Look: 6
Flavor: 3
Final Score: 3
Smoking Notes: While smoking this cigar, I could taste cocoa. The draw was perfect. At first glance, the cigar was dark and had a premium-looking maduro wrapper. After the first third, I wsa pretty certain this was a house cigar. I could taste really good flavors, but they were mixed with flavors that had almost no taste at all.

Mystery Cigar #3: House
Draw: 5
Light/Burn: 5
Look: 2
Flavor: 2
Final Score: 2
Smoking Notes: This cigar didn't look premium. The cigar was squishy, had lighter flavors, and the wrapper was visually splotchy.

Mystery Cigar #4: Premium
Draw: 3
Light/Burn: 5
Look: 4
Flavor: 4
Final Score: 4
Smoking Notes: This cigar had a tight draw. I could taste Nicaraguan tobacco. The wrapper was lumpy and rustic-looking. This cigar reminds me of, and I suspect it is, a robusto Plasencia Alma Fuerte.

Mystery Cigar #5: House
Draw: 5
Light/Burn: 2
Look: 4
Flavor: 3
Final Score: 3
Smoking Notes: The cigar was medium in color with light flavors. There was a little harshness of flavors. The uneven burn at the beginning corrected itself pretty fast but never became even.

Mystery Cigar #6: Premium
Draw: 5
Light/Burn: 5
Look: 5
Flavor: 5
Final Score: 5
Smoking Notes: I think I've had this cigar before. I'm pretty sure that this was the RomaCraft Intemperance EC XVIII. The "ragged foot," where the wrapper didn't quite go all the way to the end of the cigar, was a giveaway.

Final Thoughts:

I'm not terribly surprised that I got 6 out of 6 correct. Premium cigars are premium for a reason. I'm not sure what it is, maybe the quality of the tobacco, the skill of the hands that roll the cigars, or, perhaps it's the aging process, I don't know. Or, most likely, it's a combination of all of those things.

That said, all palates are different, as are budgets and what people want.

Did you enjoy the mystery cigar challenge? 


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