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Old 10-30-2008, 09:04 AM   #1
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Talking Legend's rating system

I wanted to create this thread for 2 reasons. 1 give a deeper understanding of my rating system and 2. Have a thread I can put a link to in my signature so those who don't know can check it out if they care (which most won't buy there might be a few)I do a simple impression of the cigar what I liked or disliked and have a 5 point scale.

1 dog rocket. This is a crappy cigar. Of course better than a machine rolled. But harsh. Fast and hot burn. Bad flavor or no flavor.

2. Yard gar. This is a descent smoke but its okay to smoke it if your are working in the yard. Or don't have time to finish.

3. Good smoke. Better than a yard gar. Hate to not finish it.(update: because so many smokes fall in this category and there are legitimate levels within it I have added the 3.x to the 3s. 3.0 being a step above yard gar 3.9 being a great smoke but not quite top 25 and of course everything in between)

4. Premiums. these are great smokes. You will want to take your time. Have it with friends really enjoy it. They will be in your top 25.

5. Super premiums. These are your top 5 cigars. They are well constructed. Burn well. Taste awesome.

Now to explain the reasoning. I only do a simple impression because for the most part everybody's tastes are different and most will pick up different flavors. Gnats-assing all the hints of this an that will only distract from your own thoughts on the stick and face it those really long reviews get boring IMO.

The 5 point scale is setup to categorize the smokes into what we really already do. Crap. Ok. Good. Really good and our favorites. Take the CA model. 1 to 100 and categories 2 through 5 all land typically in the 80 to 100 range. So you have 80 points to rate a cigar you will not like. And only 20 to rate the majority of the smokes you smoke. For the most part we know what is crap (or dog rocket) and won't smoke it so why waste 80% of our rating system on them. Most of the cigars out there that we smoke (unless we are fortunate enough to be very wealthy or only smoke our very favorites infrequently) fall into the 3 rating. Good smoke. In the CA ratings these will typically fall within 85 to 95. (if CA ratings were accurate and not influenced by advertizing) do I really care that one smoke is a little better than the other? Not really. Its a good smoke so is the other.(update: I've added this back into the system with the 3.x because after doing a bunch of reviews I realized that there are legitimate levels within this rating) Another thing is how many cigars have gotten 90+ ratings? Just devalues the rating. Using the 4 and 5 for the very best 20 to 30 cigars gives it meaning. A 5 is one of about 5 cigars. That says something. A 4 also. By making the top something elite it gives meaning to the rating. I don't know about you but when I hear of another 90+ rating from CA I no longer take notice. So simple. Meaningful. And useful. My 2 cents
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Regarding the CA point system, its actually a 50 point scale, same as for their wine reviews. It starts at 50 points. And yes, I've seen low 70s scores from time to time. I have also seen low scores for manufacturers with plenty of ads in CA, contradicting the "ad dollars theory" as well.

And since its actually a 50 point scale, it is same as yours, isn't it? You now have subdivisions, same as they do within each 10 point "step".

Also, just from a personal experience, ad dollars do not influence scores and reviews in CA. Its time to put this myth to rest and not use it as an excuse every time you (or I or whoever else) do not agree with a CA review. As the saying goes, there are no great wines (cigar lines), just great BOTTLES (cigars). As in THAT particular wine or cigar, on THAT particular day. You and I have no idea how a particular cigar was smoked by a CA staffer: ambient temp, surroundings, emotional state that day (hey, I just wrecked my Ferrari running from my girlfriend's husband!), etc. There are many factors that always affect one's enjoinment of something and unless you and I can duplicate those factors to the minute detail we shouldn't question a particular review, we can either agree with it or not.

If anything, what happens at CA is their ad dept calls everyone before a particular issue goes into print, that's what ANY magazine's marketing dept is all about. Manufacturers can then either place an ad in the CA issue with the review to capitalize on the score and hopefully make inroads in the marketplace, or decline to place an ad. Their choice and no one else's, even if they decide not to place an ad that review will still be published.

Ever see advertisements for such wines as Marcassin, Kosta Browne, Sine Qua Non, Aubert, Screaming Eagle in Wine Spectator? Latour, Haut Brion? And plenty of others. And you won't. That doesn't stop Wine Spectator from issuing incredible reviews and scores for these wines year in and year out. Same with cigars, there are NO ad dollars in play.

Here's my rating system, just as valid as yours and anyone else's:

Wouldn't gift to an enemy, sould be used in chemical warfare
Backyard fertilizer material
Will smoke if there is nothing else to do that week
Not bad, but won't go out of my way to find one
Really good, would recommend to friends
Great, will use my kid's college money (or second mortgage) to buy more of
Incredible, should be my last smoke in this world

In regard to your "5 best cigars" reference in your rating system, is it actually just 5 cigars? Would like to see which ones just to calibrate my palate and hopefully find cigars I may have missed out on.

TIA.
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

CA's reviews should be taken with a grain of salt (esp since you have no idea how they smoked it), but that should apply to a lot of reviews unless you know that reviewer's preference/style/method/palette/etc. Taking multiple reviews into account is a better gauge, but trying it yourself is the best way, and trying it multiple times.
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

I just review cigars on flavor, construction, etc by describing them. Never saw any need to attach a number scale.
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Old 02-15-2009, 05:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Notice my system also leaving out the numbers...
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Old 02-15-2009, 06:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by icehog3 View Post
I just review cigars on flavor, construction, etc by describing them. Never saw any need to attach a number scale.
I agree Tom
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Old 02-15-2009, 07:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRiddick View Post
Notice my system also leaving out the numbers...
If you are personally opposed to numbers my scale can be.

Dog rocket
Yard gar
Good smoke (with varying emphasis on how good)
Great smoke
Best

And yes it will only be 5 smokes. For the best and it does change over time. As with all guys.

It has stayed pretty steady for me. The most recent addition was about a year ago the dragonfire by Gurkha.

And sorry for the really late response but I have to strongly disagree with you on the 50 to 1 being the same as mine. For the exact reason I gave. A 90+ is meaningless. How many? In the hundreds.

And as for ad dollars having no effect on CA? I have no proof. But its like saying lobbyists money have no influence on congressmen.

An opinion.
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Old 02-15-2009, 08:22 PM   #8
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legend View Post

And as for ad dollars having no effect on CA? I have no proof. But its like saying lobbyists money have no influence on congressmen.

An opinion.
Are you talking about Cigar Aficionado or Cigar Asylum?

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Old 02-15-2009, 09:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legend View Post
And sorry for the really late response but I have to strongly disagree with you on the 50 to 1 being the same as mine. For the exact reason I gave. A 90+ is meaningless. How many? In the hundreds.

And as for ad dollars having no effect on CA? I have no proof. But its like saying lobbyists money have no influence on congressmen.

An opinion.
Its still a 50 point scale whether you agree or not, it simply is. Same as yours, by any measure. Some CA scores fall into 70s, actually making their range much narrower than yours. Most CA scores fall into 80s, a few into 90s and although there is a decent number of 90+ scores issued, in the grand scheme of things a never ending stream of better made cigars these days is hitting the market and I am not surprised at the number of high scores we do see. 10, 15 years ago we simply did not see the likes of DPG (lines), Illusione, LFD and others. The standard is pretty high these days and RISING rapidly and if 15-18 years ago I thought HdM Rothschild XX was a very nice smoke, these days it pales in comparison to, say, Illusione 88. I had the two side by side last night and if that HdM is in mid to high 80s (by most accounts) what do you propose CA guys score an Illusione at? Inquiring minds want to know.

As for ad dollars, please read my post again as it relates to Wine Spectator and wine reviews. I can absolutely GUARANTEE that no money is EVER involved with Spectator high scores and reviews for small boutique labels, I know first hand as do all the wineries I listed in my post, and many others as well. I am sure I can say same thing about CA, same people, same outfit, same thought process. Neither are said wineries even contacted to place ads. "Ad dollars myth" is just that, a MYTH, while lobbying, an example you provided, is actually PROVEN as a money supported and driven scheme, two very different things from where I stand no matter how you want to slice it.

When you say that you have no proof, can you at least point to at least ONE person who does? I thought so. I am not affiliated with CA in any way nor am I a CA apologist, couldn't care less what they say or do, they are a lifestyle mag for the most part with some cigar coverage as a bonus, but let's get a sense of reality here. I do not agree with a number of their reviews and scores, but that doesn't mean I post "scores are bought" comments to "prove" my palate is superior to theirs. Its MY palate and it only works for ME no matter if a great review came from CA or someone on this board, I still want to try a cigar with MY palate before I commit to a box, no excuses if I get it wrong.

Thanks for listing your top cigar, I am now able to calibrate my palate to yours.
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRiddick View Post
"Ad dollars myth" is just that, a MYTH,

When you say that you have no proof, can you at least point to at least ONE person who does? I thought so.
At the risk of adding fuel to the fire, can you point to one person who can prove that it isn't true?
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:51 AM   #11
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Fair question.

I can tell you from FIRST HAND experience, MINE, that it is not true. I'm in wine business and drink quite often with a good number of winemakers most people only read about, pretty much who's who of the wine world, many of the "high point" winemakers up and down the coast. Take it from me that as much as we all disagree with Spectator and CA scores, and I do so often in both cases, trust me on that, I have nothing but respect for the Shanken Empire when it comes to class of organization and how they run it (I wish I can say the same about other reviewers). You drop off (or ship) your wines to be reviewed and the next time you see your score is when it is printed or posted in their online review database, not a second before. No calls to solicit money, nothing. NADA.

Funny thing is that wine geeks also make "myth" claims and you can find plenty who will tell you out loud and as often as you are willing to listen that their palates are much better than those of the Spectator crew. I have tasted with plenty of wine geeks for a good number of years now in all sorts of environments (public tastings, barrel tastings, targeted consumer tastings, winemaker dinners, etc.) and I can assure you that with some rare exceptions "wine geeks" really need to have a reality check, most of them can't even point out simple and in your face faults in wine (brett, VA, TCA, low pH, reduction, RS, mercaptans, etc.), let alone figure out what's really in their glass. (I can also say that about many so called sommeliers, don't get me started on that).

Its much easier with cigars, of course, there is much less that can be at fault or ruin the experience, but in general if I disagree with a point score of a cigar in CA I chalk it up to a difference in cigar (different box/batch, storage conditions prior), tasting environment second and smoker's palate difference or rather preference, third. How many times have you had a great wine while on vacation, in a beautiful restaurant on a beach looking out at great sunset to then buy that same wine at home for dinner and all of a sudden say, "Oh, wait, this is a different wine than the one we had". Nope, same wine, different day and environment. Same with cigars, its the overall experience that either makes you fall in love with a cigar or not.

And palate preference is another significant factor as well. If you like big bodied cigars (I do), you will tend to score mild ones lower (I do). Like big, bold flavors? Score these high and score subtle cigars lower. Etc, etc, etc. No reason to claim any disagreement between your cigar experience and that of the CA as some "myth".

Like I said, its time to put this "myth" to bed and move on.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:39 AM   #12
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRiddick View Post
Its still a 50 point scale whether you agree or not, it simply is. Same as yours, by any measure. Some CA scores fall into 70s, actually making their range much narrower than yours.
.....

Thanks for listing your top cigar, I am now able to calibrate my palate to yours.
Your first statement I listed above would indicate that their scale is 70s to 100 meaning its a 3 point scale not a 5. Either way. Mine is much more meaningful to the average Joe smoker.

Second quote. The dragonfire is in my top 5 but not the top. The padron 80th is number 1. 2 through 5 in whatever order.

Dragonfire
Perdomo edicion De Silva
Gurkha grand age Churchill
Gurkha beast

Yes there are 3 gurkhas in the top 5. For me.

I think that's the major point of my rating system. Its for us. For each smokers personal rating. Which is why I only give a general impression and not a detailed review so each guy can try it themselves and rank it. Easy to remember.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:58 AM   #13
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Many of us have adopted verbal scales over the years. Some are 4 some 5 some 6. Same guy just different number of stops. Really depends on how much we have been drinking.

Unless you know and have smoked with the reviewer it's hard to place too much weight on their thoughts and comments regarding a cigar regardless of their scale, 1-999 or good to bad other than the extremes. Which may be the point of the O.P.

There are things that can help folks understand the cigar better to see if they might like to try it based upon words presented.

We all value different things though and so much of the experience is subjective.

The actual cigar has a broad range of considerations that may be important to some and not to others, things like:

Size
Age
Brand
Wrapper
Packaging method
Storage conditions
Flavor profile
Depth of flavors
Evolution of flavors
Nuance
Finish
Draw
Feel
Duration of smoking experience
Relative smoothness/harshness
Volume of smoke
etc.

Then there is the whole variation between boxes and within boxes thing to consider. Have smoked 1492's that were ehh. Doesnt mean they are not one of the top 5 cigars .. for me. But if the reviewer was smoking that one... People smoke cigars differently. For example nose exhale vs not. These differences can yield radically different impressions of the same cigar.

Giving someone one of your top 5 cigars and they, after smokng one, having similar opinion.. now that's cool.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:19 AM   #14
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

I have 3 simple categories I put all cigars I smoke into.

1) It sucked ass.
2) It was alright.
3) I really liked it.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:25 AM   #15
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by poker View Post
I have 3 simple categories I put all cigars I smoke into.

1) It sucked ass.
2) It was alright.
3) I really liked it.
I'm pretty close to you on that. I have found when a cigar is one of the best I've had and really puts me in the zone, I have a ton of trouble describing it at all. I'm in such a euphoric state that descriptors escape me.

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Old 02-16-2009, 08:26 AM   #16
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRiddick View Post
Fair question.

I can tell you from FIRST HAND experience, MINE, that it is not true.

Like I said, its time to put this "myth" to bed and move on.
I appreciate the thoughtful response, and you make some excellent points. I would still argue that it is your personal opinion and experience rather than actual "proof", but I do understand why you feel the way you do.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:28 AM   #17
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

I like Legend's rating system and have found myself agreeing with a good number of his reviews. (for what that's worth)
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:31 AM   #18
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

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I like Legend's rating system and have found myself agreeing with a good number of his reviews. (for what that's worth)
This is the point!!! It can be very helpful to find someone who has similar tastes regardless of the review method. So many different options and informed guidance is cool.

When are you going to pull the trigger on the Cremosas?
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:34 AM   #19
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

Consider them in the mail.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:46 AM   #20
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Default Re: Legend's rating system

I use my own rating system as well. I find it to be a much more accurate score than CA's score. The CA score is almost always between 80 and 100. The problem with CA's system is that they give the same importance to the way a cigar tastes and the way it looks. Anyone who has ever had a RyJ cazadore or a por larranaga petit corona will tell you that looks aren't everything. I believe they should be considered but not at equal importance to the flavor. Same goes with smoking characteristics.

So my system is a weighted average. If a cigar was average it should rate a 50. Here are the particulars. Incidentally, we have been using it on blowinsmoke.net for some time and it works very well.

appearance 10 possible points
flavor 20 possible points
smoking characteristics 10 possible points
price 5 possible points

Total up the points, divide by 45 and multiply by 100. This gives you the score.


Example:

appearance: 9
flavor: 12
smoking characteristic: 9
price: 4

34/45 X 100 = 76%

On CAs system this cigar would have scored quite high because the appearance, price,a nd smoking characteristics were almost perfect. With this system it is fairly represented and now everyone knows to stay away from it.
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