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There are a few things to know about cigar shapes and sizes, and if you’re new to cigars, let me give you a quick run-down of what to know about them.
Cigars come in a wide array of types, sizes, and colors, each contributing to the uniqueness of every single cigar. The two main categories of cigars are Parejos, straight-sided, and Figurados, known for their irregular shapes.
Cigar sizes vary a lot and are determined mainly by their length and ring gauge, which measures the thickness of the cigar in inches. The color of a cigar (the wrapper leaf) also contributes to its overall flavor profile. Good to know is that all cigar types and sizes share the same blend of cigar colors, so at least those stay the same.
In the following sections, I’ll delve deeper into each category so you can easily identify the different cigar types that exist out there.
Parejos: Straight-Sided Cigar Shapes
Parejos, or straight-sided cigars, are the most common cigar shape and come in various sizes to satisfy the preferences of any avid cigar smoker. These premium cigars include:
- Petit Corona
- Corona Gorda
- Double Corona
Corona cigars are the standard in the cigar world, typically measuring 5 1/2 to 6 inches in length, with a ring gauge, or thickness, of 42 to 44.
This medium size contributes to a balanced smoking experience, with a delightful blend of flavors and aromas to be savored over a moderate duration of approximately 45 minutes.
Originating from the renowned La Corona factory in Cuba, these cigars have symbolized wealth and prestige for centuries.
The Corona cigars are a timeless classic and a perfect choice for those who wish to enjoy a leisurely smoke.
2. Petit Corona
Petit Corona cigars are the smaller siblings of Coronas, perfect for those who desire a shorter smoke without sacrificing flavor.
Measuring 4 to 5 inches long with a ring gauge of 38 to 42, these cigars are enjoyable for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Petit Corona cigars come in a variety of blends and filler tobacco.
Named after the legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, these cigars are ideal for post-dinner relaxation and contemplation. Measuring around 7 inches long with a 47-ring gauge, it’s a longer smoke ranging from 45 minutes up to 1 hour.
Cigar brands that produce great Churchills include:
- Romeo y Julieta
- La Aroma de Cuba
- Arturo Fuente
- San Cristobal
Popular in the United States, Robusto cigars are a short and fat cigar option for those seeking a fuller smoke in a compact size, as opposed to a thin cigar.
Measuring between 4.75 and 5.5 inches with a ring gauge of 48 to 52, these cigars have a rich flavor thanks to the combination of Ligero, Seco, and Volado tobacco leaves.
Robusto is up for preference; I personally like thicker cigars like the Robusto, but I don’t like it if it has a dark-color leaf like a Maduro wrapper.
As you can see, what someone likes is entirely subjective, but the fun part is that you can entirely mix and match the cigar types, sizes and colors to your individual palette! Now, moving on to the Corona Gorda.
5. Corona Gorda
Corona Gorda cigars, also known as toros, are slightly larger than Coronas, measuring around 5 5/8 inches long with a 46-48 ring gauge. These cigars provide a longer smoke with more flavor for an appealing option for those who want to savor the taste of their cigar.
Exhibiting a range of flavor profiles, including molasses, black pepper, sweetness, chocolate, cherry, and subtle fruitiness, Corona Gorda cigars are a delightful thing to try.
6. Double Corona
If you seek an extended smoke, the Double Corona cigars are the answer. Measuring 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 inches long with a 47-52 ring gauge, these cigars have a rich and complex flavor profile, including notes of leather, earth, nuts, cocoa, and cream.
Requiring approximately 1 to 2 hours to smoke (it’s a lot!), Double Corona cigars are only for those who have ample time and don’t get tired of smoking for hours.
Panetela cigars, measuring 5 to 7 1/2 inches in length with a 34-38 ring gauge, have a smoke duration of approximately 30 to 45 minutes. This thin cigar provides a cool burn and a big taste for those who appreciate the finer aspects of cigar smoking.
Originating from the renowned tobacco-producing region of Pinar del Rio Province in Cuba, Panetela cigars usually have a creamy and elegant flavor, with tasting notes of:
- Black pepper
- A hint of sweetness
Lonsdale cigars are a type of straight-sided cigar that is named after the British nobleman Lord Lonsdale. These cigars typically measure around 6.5 inches in length with a ring gauge of 42.
These cigars are known for their balanced and medium-bodied flavor profile, often featuring notes of cedar, cocoa, and tobacco with a hint of sweetness. The smoking duration of a Lonsdale cigar is approximately 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the smoker’s pace.
Grande cigars are the giants of the cigar world and not for the faint of heart. It measures approximately 9.25 inches long with a generous ring gauge of around 47 to 52. With such a considerable size, the smoking duration of a Grande cigar can extend over 2 hours,
Due to their size, Grande cigars are best suited to experienced smokers who can appreciate the intricate blend of flavors that these cigars offer.
Figurados: Irregularly Shaped Cigars
In contrast to the straight sides of Parejos, Figurados are irregular cigars, showcasing cigar makers’ artistry and craftsmanship. These unique cigar shapes include:
Pyramid cigars have a tapered shape, measuring 6-7 inches long with a pointed head. The sharply tapered head and larger size set them apart from other cigar shapes.
Pyramid cigars often feature fiery spice, sweet cedar, earth, coffee, cocoa powder, nuts, and black pepper flavors, making them a must-try.
Belicoso cigars, similar to Robustos in size, are characterized by a rounded pyramid head and a shorter length. Measuring 5 to 5.5 inches in length and with a ring gauge of 48 to 55, these cigars have a unique smoking experience.
Torpedo cigars, with their tapered head and straight shape, come in various sizes and allow for a customizable smoking experience. You decide when cutting the cigar on how much draw you want to let through.
Perfecto cigars are uniquely shaped, with a tapered head, bulging midsection, and closed foot. This one-of-a-kind shape provides a gradual transition of flavors from a light cigar beginning to a heavier middle and a smooth end for increased complexity and depth of flavor.
Culebra cigars are a rare sight, made by twisting three Panetelas together. These cigars are meant to be separated and enjoyed individually. With a unique design and history dating back to the late 1800s, Culebra cigars are distinctive and memorable, perhaps best suited as a cigar gift.
Due to their unique shape, Diadema cigars offer a dynamic smoking experience, with the flavor profile evolving as the burn progresses from the tapered ends toward the thicker center.
These cigars typically measure around 8.5 to 10 inches long, with a ring gauge ranging from 40 at the ends to 52-60 at the middle.
The smoking duration of a Diadema cigar can extend over 2 hours, making them ideal for long, leisurely smoking sessions.
How are cigar sizes measured?
Cigar sizes are measured using two primary dimensions: length and ring gauge.
The length of a cigar is measured in inches, simple and straightforward. It determines how long the cigar will burn and how long you’ll enjoy your smoke. A longer cigar generally equates to a longer smoking experience.
The ring gauge, on the other hand, refers to the cigar’s diameter and is measured in 64ths of an inch.
So, a cigar with a ring gauge of 52 is 52/64 of an inch in diameter, if that makes sense.
The ring gauge impacts the cigar’s draw – how much smoke is delivered with each puff – and also influences the intensity of the flavor. A larger ring gauge allows for more tobacco blend varieties, often resulting in a more complex flavor profile.
What are the most popular cigar sizes?
The most popular cigar sizes are:
- Corona: the standard size, providing a balanced smoking experience
- Robusto: popular for their shorter, fuller smoke
- Churchill: longer and ideal for a post-dinner smoke
The Cigar Color Palette
The color of a cigar is determined by the wrapper leaf, which plays a significant role in the flavor. There are seven main cigar colors, including:
- Candela / Claro
- Maduro / Oscuro
1. Candela / Claro
Candela cigars (also known as Double Claro) are characterized by their light green/brown color, achieved through a specialized curing process that preserves the chlorophyll within the tobacco leaf. These cigars have a sweet, light flavor and are perfect for those who prefer milder cigars.
A slightly darker shade of the Candela is the regular Claro cigars, which are light tan and often used in mild cigars to highlight the filler blend. The leaves are harvested early and grown under shade for that delicate and mild flavor. Claro and Candela cigars are produced in various countries, including:
- the Dominican Republic
Each country’s climate has a distinct influence over the wrapper leaf; even if they have the same color, brands such as La Flor Dominicana, Illusione, and Arturo Fuente are good options for their Candela cigar colors.
Colorado cigars are known for their reddish-brown color, achieved by growing the tobacco leaves in direct sunlight or under the shade. This exposure results in richer flavors and is a popular choice.
There are three variants of the Colorado:
- Colorado Claro: A lighter version of the Colorado
- Colorado: The regular version
- Colorado Marudo: A darker shade of the Colorado
Colorado cigars have a full-bodied flavor with light aromas for a fantastic smoking experience.
3. Maduro / Oscuro
Maduro cigars have a dark color, resulting from a longer curing process that imparts more flavor and sweetness to the tobacco leaf. These cigars are characterized by their dark reddish-brown to almost black color and are often used in full-bodied cigars to provide richer, more complex flavors.
Oscuro cigars (Double Maduro) are the darkest of all the cigar wrappers. They are almost black in color due to an extended fermentation process of the tobacco leaves under high heat, which helps to bring out the natural oils in the leaves. It’s similar to darkly roasted coffee beans but with more depth and intensity of flavor. It serves a certain type of smoker but is heavier in taste and not for everyone.
This results in a shiny, oily appearance and a rich, robust flavor often described as having strong notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and sweet spices.
How do you cut and smoke different cigar shapes?
How you cut and smoke a cigar impacts the experience of the smoke. Different shapes require different cutting methods, and understanding these helps you get the most out of the flavor and burn of your cigar.
Parejos (Straight-Sided Cigars)
For straight-sided cigars, like Coronas or Robustos, a straight cut is most commonly used using a guillotine-styled cigar cutter. This involves cutting off the cap (the closed end of the cigar) straight across. You should aim to leave about 1/8th of an inch from the top. This type of cut provides a large, open surface area for lighting and usually provides a consistent, even draw.
Figurados (Irregularly Shaped Cigars)
For Figurados, like Torpedos or Pyramids, the most common method is a diagonal cut. This is because these cigars taper at the head, and a straight cut might remove too much of it, potentially causing the wrapper to unravel. A diagonal cut helps maintain the shape of the cigar and can also allow you to control the draw by adjusting the angle of your cut.
Perfecto and Culebra Cigars
For Perfectos and Culebras, which have a closed foot (the end you light), you don’t need to cut the foot. You can light it as is, and the burn will open it up. However, you’ll still need to cut the cap. For Perfectos, a straight cut is usually fine, but for Culebras, which are twisted, you might need to make a few small cuts to open up the draw.
How to Smoke a cigar?
Regardless of the shape, the process of smoking a cigar is generally the same. After cutting, you should light the foot of the cigar evenly using a dedicated cigar lighter. This can be done by holding the flame to the foot without touching it and rotating the cigar until the entire foot glows. Once it’s lit, take slow, steady puffs, and don’t forget NOT to inhale the smoke like you would with a cigarette.