WHAT OUR REVIEWS ARE NOT
We have never, and will never, state that our reviews are the end all, be all authority on cigars. In fact, from the formation of this blog, we have contended that reviews—by their very nature—are only one person’s opinion on their own experience. Cigars are subjective; reviews and scoring are even more subjective. We have a uniform process that all of halfwheel uses to produce, formulate and publish reviews—but ultimately, the rest is subjective.
With that being said, each of our reviewers puts aside any personal bias (good or bad) with the tobacco, size, manufacturer, country, etc. Each cigar is given a fair shake.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS
First, we are open and transparent. We answer any questions that are posed to us and we disclose any and all affiliations. If the cigar was given to us—we’ll let you know. If the cigar was a prerelease, preproduction or sat in a humidor for seven decades—we’ll let you know.
Second, we are honest. Everyone loves that honesty, until you start being critical of something they like. We feel strongly that if we aren’t honest and open about our bad experiences, then our positive experiences don’t have full value. When we decide to review a cigar, the review gets published—no matter the experience. Not every cigar is good, it’s time we all accept that.
Third, we place the readers above all else. From the start, halfwheel was created as a place that we wanted to read. It is clean, it is quality, it is different; it is honest. We produce the site specifically for the readers, not for sponsors, friends, manufacturers, retailers or any other group. We understand oftentimes people in the industry are readers, but halfwheel is for the consumer of information, not the seller of cigars. There is an obligation from us as producers of information to you the reader to give you all of the information in fair and ethical manner each and every time. This includes telling you when a cigar is amazing, and when it falls short—each and every time.
Finally, readers don’t decide if they like a cigar, a smoker does. We believe that our reviews can serve as guidance, but ultimately, the only way you will know if you like something is if you try the cigar for yourself.
It’s that simple.
THE REVIEW PROCESS
At halfwheel, our reviews are not done by panels. Rather, a single reviewer will formulate his own opinions of the cigar being reviewed. These do not represent halfwheel as a whole, which is why we disclose who reviewed each specific cigar. There are some instances when different reviewers disagree on a specific cigar review, but that’s the nature of publishing opinions.
If a review is on halfwheel, it meets the standard set forth by our editors and stated here. Under no circumstance does it mean that every member of the halfwheel team agrees with each word of the review wholeheartedly. However, as a staff, we trust that each reviewer uses the same standards to formulate their opinion, and we understand there will oftentimes be a subjective difference of opinion.
It’s different. We judge cigars on a 100 point scale with three specific numerical points. We do not factor price into scores for a variety of reasons, one of which centers around our reviewing of prerelease and preproduction cigars, which oftentimes don’t have finalized prices. As such, we refrain from using price as a factor in order to make our reviews uniform.
The three points are:
88 — Reviewer can recommend a box purchase.
86 — Reviewer can recommend a purchase of between three and five cigars.
84 — Reviewer can recommend a single cigar purchase.
Cigars scoring 83 and below are not inherently bad cigars, rather, that specific reviewer chooses not to recommend that specific cigar at this time.
…THEY LOOK DIFFERENT
Ratings inflation is a big problem when scoring cigars. It becomes a bigger problem when the 100 point scale is really a 10 point scale. The reality is most scores start at 87 and go up to just south of 100. This wasn’t always the case and we think it shouldn’t be. It is the belief at halfwheel that sublime cigars are not the norm and our ratings reflect that.
Having said the above—for the most part—we review rare, hard-to-find, expensive, limited edition, prerelease and preproduction cigars. The cigars we review are not a representation of any retailer’s humidor. Furthermore, the low-end for halfwheel is oftentimes the high-end for many consumers and retailers. As such, the scores are going to trend higher than most blogs without these specific parameters, because the quality of cigars is higher given the restrictions.
CIGARS ARE SCORED UNBLIND
Blind reviews have their place, just not at halfwheel. Many of the cigars we review are simply too difficult to review blind. Oftentimes with prerelease and preproduction cigars, we will know the cigars that are about to hit the market, and as such are likely to be reviewed by halfwheel. Second, we review quite a few odd and peculiar shapes that are simply too easy to identify. Therefore, in order to place every review on equal footing, cigars are reviewed unblind.
ABOUT OUR BIASES
We make every attempt we can to put aside our biases each and every time we review. We disclose when something is given to us or if there is a sponsor involved. We don’t treat sponsors different from non-sponsors. We don’t let manufacturers pick who reviews cigars. We don’t give pre-approval. We try to be as independent as we possibly can. And, at the very least, we are entirely open.
No member of halfwheel is employed in anyway by any manufacturer.
TURNING OFF THE HYPE
We treat each cigar the same, no matter what it is. The nature of halfwheel means prerelease and über rare cigars are our norm—so the hypemeter is non-existent, something that takes a long history of reviews of cigars of this caliber to achieve. Even at halfwheel, we want cigars to be good, particularly when they are making their debut. Too often, that hope is translated into words and flaws are overlooked.
IT’S HARD TO BUY PRERELEASES
We don’t purchase all of the cigars we review, because you can’t just go to your local brick and mortar and buy prereleases. Reviews not purchased by halfwheel are disclosed in the Final Notes.
FOR THE CRITICS OF ‘TOO CRITICAL’
There is a lot of discussion about the concept of being too critical, it’s our opinion that line of thinking is bad for everyone, most importantly our readers.
The a priori principle for running a publication like halfwheel is honesty. That honesty translates into the good with the bad. It is what develops educated consumers and an educated community. For us, the notion of too critical—or the even more asinine request for no negative criticism—impedes the progress of the community and industry as a whole, from top-to-bottom.
Not every cigar is good, and as such, not every review will be pretty.
If you are looking for a cigar site that operates under the utopian preference that every cigar is excellent, sadly halfwheel is not—and will never be—that one.
don’t reinvent the wheel.