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Playboy by Don Diego

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The Anatomy of Taste – Understand Your Own via a “Cigar Tasting”

I certainly do not claim to have any scientific background or expertise on the topic of the human anatomy. Until the cigar hobby, the only interest I had in anatomy was a fascination with the female form (my favorite website,, provides some excellent specimens for study). Some understanding of the anatomy of taste could help you select cigars that fit your unique taste profile, if you are already, or are starting to become, a cigar smoker. For this reason, we offer Taste Anatomy 101 to provide a foundation for understanding.

Human taste buds are centered in our tongues, and experts claim that they can detect only four basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The many flavors we taste are a blend of these four components. The tongue is divided into different taste areas, each containing taste buds that are geared to one of these taste components. There are said to be more than 10,000 microscopic taste receptors on the tongue in the average human.

Attending a cigar tasting, held occasionally at local brick and mortar cigar shops, is one way to begin to understand your preferred taste profile. The format will often include a discussion of the above, and how different tobacco leaves on a plant will stimulate one taste sensation rather than another. Remember that growing regions, with varied soils and climate conditions, will also impact flavor. At most tastings you will be offered sample tobaccos in the form of a blunt that stimulate a targeted taste. This works up to a finale that typically includes a cigar that blends tobaccos to “play” a taste medley of two to four sensations at once. A “tasting” is often free, including the tobacco/cigars that you smoke. It also provides an interesting social activity among fellow brothers of the leaf (BOTLs).

Cigar leaves are primarily represented as one of three types:

  • Ligero - The strongest tasting leaves found at the top of the plant. The flavor is detected at the back of the throat, often in the form of a peppery spice.
  • Seco – These leaves are more medium in strength and also very flavorful. The taste buds pick up their flavor in the center and sides of the mouth.
  • Volado leaves come from the bottom of the plant. They are lightest in color as they get shielded from the sun by other leaves. They are described as having a sweeter flavor, picked up by the front of the tongue.

In a good cigar shop the owner/employee should be able to guide your picks, but nobody knows your tasting preferences like yourself. Again, a cigar tasting can go a long way in making you more aware and able to pick your “poison” on your own.

In my next article, I will provide some regional guidance relative to taste, so stay tuned.

On this note, let’s get smokin’. 

Cigar Review:

Playboy by Don Diego

Size: Robusto, 5 inches long, 50 ring gauge

Price: $7 to $8 range 

Don Diego is one of those names that have become synonymous with “mild.” It’s a go-to brand for beginners – they know the name, it’s easy to say and you’ll find it in just about any cigar shop across the country at a reasonable price. They’re consistent, well-made and make for an easy introduction to the wonderful world of premium handmade cigars. 

The Playboy is a nice compliment and yet a positive change-up in the Don Diego line. It is a very smooth cigar, but more complex and flavorful than the long-running Don Diego tradition suggests. This cigar is a good one for any level of cigar smoker, beginner or not. Playboy also seems a fitting choice, given the discussion of anatomy above.

Tobacco blend:

  • Wrapper: Connecticut
  • Filler and binder: Dominican 


A reader, responding to my review of the Peterson cigar, suggested I try one of these. I thank him for his recommendation and I am now forever in his debt. A few years back, a respected cigar smoker told me that any cigar with the name Don in it was not very good, and this stuck with me. Though this may have been a fair generalization, albeit a negative stereotype, years ago, I know for a fact that it is way out of date today. Arturo Fuente’s Don Carlos, Don Pepin, the Don Tomas Cameroon and now the Playboy by Don Diego shattered this dated notion, another indication of an ever changing industry.  

Look and feel 

Pre-lit, these are great looking cigar. It took me until my second stick to realize the band had the Hugh Hefner monogram and signature on it. After my usual double guillotine cut, I took a couple of draws (before lighting). I was surprised by the taste. It may sound a little funny, but it was reminiscent of the Fig Newtons that my grandmother used to pawn off on us kids while growing up. It’s a more welcome taste today than it was as a kid decades ago. 

Aroma and Taste 

The opening, through the first half of this cigar, provided a mild, yet flavorful smoke. This cigar epitomizes a term that aficionados throw around – creamy. Believe it or not, the taste is the same as taking the whipped cream can (not the low fat, low cal stuff) and spraying it in your mouth. I know I’m not the only guy out there who performs this trick. As the cigar reaches the mid-point, the cream flavor gives way to a little more of a blend of earthiness and cream. The finish is notable at this point, leaving just a little peppery spiciness to savor throughout the cigar. The draw, burn and aroma were all fine. 

Apparently, Hugh Hefner only allows his name to be associated to the finer things life has to offer.  

RATING: 9.1 (on a scale of 1 to 10) 

Keep the comments and recommendations coming – email: 

Cigar Quote

"The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a (Havana) cigar." Evelyn Waugh 

DISCLAIMER:  At the risk of sounding too much like a TV commercial, I do want to sincerely state:  This feature is NOT intended to advocate the smoking of cigars any more or any less than you already do, nor do I intend to influence the non-smoker to begin smoking cigars.  Make no mistake about it; CIGAR SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

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