The 2009 "Perelman's Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars"
I recently had the opportunity to review the 2009 “Perelman’s Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars,” published by Perelman, Pioneer & Company. This annual publication is considered by many to be a premier reference publication in the cigar industry. Its annually published database of cigars is the most comprehensive that I have seen, in which about 1,400 cigars are documented in terms of size, availability, tobacco, origins of the blend, manufacturing location, etc. In addition, I liked that the guide provided key information that all cigar smokers will find handy, including a cigar language glossary. The section on what is discontinued and what is new can also be useful, especially for those of us who like to try new things.
However, there is another side of this story, especially for the Bullz-Eye faithful who know the value of the Internet. Many publications and reference books have an associated Web site, and Perelman’s is no exception. The web site is www.cigarcyclopedia.com. In fact, the book promotes the site at the bottom of each page, so naturally I surfed the site myself. I have to confess, I was aware of the Web site and have used it in the past, though I never associated the site with the traditional Perelman publication.
I quickly realized that the site had some of the information that was in the publication -- and more. More importantly, access and use of the site is free! Even more so, the site proves to be of great interest and value, in my opinion. It’s the only place where one can find ratings and rankings information, along with a useful commentary justifying the rating, primarily in terms of the more detailed flavor profile. I believe this to be extremely important to the individual smoker. The physical book only provides the technical and factual information about the cigar, like its availability in various sizes, the countries from which the tobacco was sourced, the country in which the cigar was manufactured, and a general taste classification of full, medium or mild. My biggest gripe: to get a complete view into a given cigar, both technical and the more detailed taste profile, you have to utilize both the book and the Web site. However, the book does not clearly advise you as such, and you have to discover this on your own.
Focusing primarily on the Web site, I would consider it a very solid resource. It provides a pretty fair assessment to the cigar smoker of the quality and flavor of the smoke in the form of letter grades. I don’t recall seeing anything that graded below a C, and there were not even many Cs given. They seem to save the Cs for the mass-marketed, machine-made cigars. Needless to say, from what I could tell, I would not put a match (let alone my mouth), on anything rated a B- or below. One shortcoming of the Web site is that it does not take advantage of modern search technology very well. It is virtually impossible to see the cigar lists sorted along different lines from how the book and Web site are organized (alphabetical by the cigar’s name). A more sophisticated search and sort function could allow the user to view the cigar information in various forms, like: a respected manufacturer, a favorite blender or country of origin. Unfortunately, the Web site pages were simply offered on the site in an Adobe .pdf read-only file format mode, But what the hell do you want for free!?
All in all, the physical guide is nice for a coffee table, or a gift to your cigar-loving older relatives or friends (who are 15 years behind the technology curve). Investing in the book is worthwhile if you really want to go down the aficionado path. If all you care about is the flavor profile and getting some guidance on whether a given cigar is likely to be enjoyed by you, my recommendation is to go to www.cigarcyclopedia.com, look up a couple of A-rated cigars from a respected manufacturer, and spend the $15 saved on the book on a couple of fine cigars. And get smokin’!
Given the above topic, I am going to change it up a little for this review and send you to the Pocket Cyclopedia Web site to navigate the review of this cigar. It turns out that their review was spot-on. A little background -- I smoked this cigar and thought it was great. Camacho is known for its full and strong cigars, but this blend is a medium-bodied blend that I especially enjoy. It is my favorite among the Camacho line. I give it a 93 rating. I read the review in Perelman’s, and its description hit the nail on the head. After you are done with Bullz-Eye, surf over to the site and check out Perelman’s review of this great stick -- it matches mine perfectly!
"Women are jealous of cigars... they regard them as a strong rival." -William Makepeace Thackeray, English Author