We use the same model for rating that Cigar Aficionado uses to keep with uniformity. Cigar Aficionado, based in New York, has come up with a standard this industry uses to judge a cigar on all aspects of experience. They use the same 100 point scale that many have seen with Wine Spectator magazine. Each cigar is judged on 4 categories: appearance, smoking characteristics, flavor, and overall impression.
Appearance has a maximum of 15 points; it's the least of any category because it's more important for a cigar to taste good then to look good. But still, a good looking cigar shows how much a company pays attention to detail.
Smoking Characteristics is worth up to 25 points. This category includes the draw of the cigar, the way it burns, and aroma. The draw is very important to this category: if you don't get the smoke in your mouth you won't taste the flavors. The aroma is not an easy category to judge because the taster tends to be the poorest judge on aroma since they are sitting within the smoke.
Flavor is worth up to 25 points. In this category we judge the cigar on the complexity and strength which refers to the way the cigar feels in the mouth. We also use descriptors like chocolatey, nutty, creamy, toasty; we're not trying to say you will get these flavors exactly, but we associate those characteristics with the flavors we find in cigars.
Our final category, the overall impression, gets up to 35 points. This combines all the categories together. The overall experience with the smoke is important for one to come back to it again and again. This category allows our tasters to give it the thumbs up or thumbs down.