Will a cigar's rating change based on its vintage?
- Scott Fiorelli (name & town omitted)
A: The answer is yes AND no.
Yes, the review is based on the specific cigar the reviewer is smoking at that time. it's also why most reviewers will smoke at least two of the same cigar to see if they're consistent back-to-back.
Look at it this way. All cigar blends are kept on file, including specifics for curing and aging. Therefore, the cigar/s should be consistent from year to year, right? At least as far at its general characteristics and flavors are concerned. For example, I have had many of the same cigars, month after month, year after year, and since I know what to expect (the rare clunker notwithstanding), I would notice if the cigar tasted significantly different. Regardless of the vintage of the tobaccos, for the most part, cigars are impressively consistent from year to year.
True, tobaccos and wine grapes have much in common in terms of their vintage harvests, etc. Plus, you may like the same cigar more or less one or two years later, which may have something to do with the year the leaves were harvested. You also have to take into account how long the cigars have been aged at the factory, then the retailer's humidor, and your own humidor for that matter, as most cigars tend to mellow over time.
Certain outstanding harvests, very often wrapper leaf harvests, will be put aside for a future blend because of the excellence of the leaf. This is where you'll find cigars like Macanudo Vintage 1997, or Rocky Patel Vintage 2003 Cameroon, etc. Some factories try to hold on to as much vintage leaf as possible and make the cigars in limited runs until they find a similar or even better harvest, which is then named for that year.
Finally, the exact same cigar a year later could have different taste characteristics, which will no doubt affect its review.