NARROW RING GAUGES
Are You Missing Some Great Smokes?
Many smokers dismiss narrow ring gauges, opting only to smoke 50+ diameter cigars. This seems to be particularly true of the newest generation of American cigar smokers, who seem to overwhelmingly prefer stocky Robustos, Toros, and Gigantes. Many cigar makers have recently released 54-60 ring cigars, attempting to cater to this "bigger is better" philosophy subscribed to by American smokers. It seems as though everything has become bigger in America: Big Gulps, Super-Sized Fries, and now, Monster Cigars.
Personally, I think this is a huge mistake (pun intended). Massive 56+ cigars are unwieldy in the hand and tragically uncomfortable in the mouth. These mammoth-size cigars tend to burn so cool they are often difficult to keep lit. And finally, their size actually tempers much of their flavor. I was genuinely surprised to see so many behemoths introduced at this year's RTDA. I am extremely interested in seeing whether most smokers will adopt these sizes, or if they are a quickly passing fad. My money is on fad, but I could be wrong (wouldn't be the first time).
Smaller-ring-gauge cigars have taken a beating in mainstream print publications over the last decade . The common charge is that they burn too hot and are not as complex in flavor. Personally, I say, "Hogwash!" Narrow-ring cigars offer a wide array of experiences to the smoker, and such generalizations are devoid of truth. So while the entire US cigar industry works to get you to try larger cigars, I am suggesting just the opposite and proudly champion the narrower classic Corona, Lonsdale, and Cuban Corona Gorda sizes.
These 40-46 ringed parejos provide some of the best smoking in the world; you are really doing yourself a disservice by not sampling these smaller vitolas. Yes, I concede they tend to burn hotter, but this, in itself, is not necessarily a negative. In fact, I argue that, in many cases, it is a positive attribute. Many blends that you find dull on your palate in a larger-ring gauge prove to be dream smokes in a smaller format. The increased combustion can convert a ho-hum blend into one of your spicy, full-flavored favorites. I often find that the cigar blends I usually think of as snoozers in a 50 ring, are delightful when smoked in a smaller ring.
Your fathers smoked them, cigar makers smoke them, and you will discover that most long-time American cigar connoisseurs regularly prefer a narrower 40-46 over the larger vitolas. Monster-size cigars are seldom smoked by seasoned smokers, except as a novelty.
My own tastes vary from large to small, so while I do appreciate a large Double Corona, I have also learned the joys of smoking narrower-ringed cigars. A smaller smoke can deliver a taste explosion that is so often lost in the girth and length of larger cigars. Also, they peak much quicker, delivering their flavor without the long wait that many larger vitolas require. Much pleasure can be found in the smoke of these thinner cigars. To dismiss them because of their size is a shameful mistake.
Here is a list of a few of my own favorite 46-ring (and smaller) smokes to give you an idea of cigars you might wish to try:El Rey Del Mundo Cedar ~ 7.00 x 43
Montecristo Peruvian Especial No. 2 ~ 5.00 x 40
Bolivar Cofradia Cuban Corona ~ 5.62 x 46
El Rey del Mundo Rectangulares Maduro ~ 5.62 x 45
Don Diego Privada No. 4 ~ 5.62 x 42
Romeo y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No. 2 ~ 5.5 x 44
JR Ultimate Cabinet No. 10 ~ 6.25 x 46
Regretfully this list is incomplete; I can still think of another half dozen or so great 42-46 ring cigars that I frequently smoke. However, it should give you a pretty good idea of narrower-ringed cigars that are definitely worth sampling. From the mild Don Diego Privada No. 4 to the mega-robust Bolivar Fuerte Cuban Corona, I think there is at least a pair within my list that will strike the fancy of every cigar smoker.
I strongly urge every cigar smoker to try narrower-ringed cigars. I know you will discover, among these smaller vitolas, cigars that will be perfect smokes for your own palate. In fact, you will probably find yourself marveling at just how "big" a smoke can be had from some smaller cigars.