Sam: Let the smoke roll around on your palate.

Michael: When you draw, it’s a cheek function, not a lung function. If you allow the smoke to hang a bit before you exhale, your palate starts to receive the stimulation of the smoke differently. It’s important to pay attention to flavors then. You have the flavor of the smoke itself while it’s in your mouth, and then you have the flavor that remains after you’ve expelled the smoke. That’s the finish. The other thing to pay attention to is the behavior—what it does to your mouth. Do you feel it in the front of your mouth? Do you feel it along the sides? Does it dry your mouth? Do you salivate more?

Wine tastes like wine. A cigar tastes like a cigar. It tastes like burning tobacco. What you want to be able to do is talk about the difference between cigars. What makes this one different from that one. The only way to do that is to find the flavors that are reminiscent of what you’ve got there.

You can talk about strength—is it mild, medium, or strong? You can talk about body—is it heavy in your mouth or light? Does it feel silky when it hits your palate? Does it feel creamy? Does it feel velvety? These are the things to think about as you try different cigars.