Cigar Characteristics | Ring Gauge, Size & Body

June 22, 2015

Cigar School

Lesson 2: Cigar Characteristics


Cigars are described by length and ring size. Length is measured in inches. The most popular lengths are between 5 & 6 inches.

Ring Gauge

The size of a cigar, in name, is a nearly meaningless designation. The reason for this is that the size of a cigar, when determined by a name such as corona or robusto, is not a universal standard. In other words, one company’s corona is another company’s Churchill even though both measure the exact same length and ring gauge. Once you understand this, most of the confusion regarding cigar size disappears.

There are, however, “classic” measurements for cigars that most cigar makers attempt to follow. But remember, just because a cigar is 7 inches in length with a 48 ring gauge doesn’t necessarily mean that the manufacturer will designate that cigar as a Churchill. All you really have to know is that cigars are categorized by length and ring gauge, which is a fraction of an inch measured in 64ths. A cigar with a 52 ring gauge, for example, measures 52/64 of an inch in diameter. The most popular ring gauges are 42 to 44.


The body refers to the relative strength of the cigar. Cigars are generally divided into three groups:

  1. MILD
  3. FULL

The strength of most cigars sold today can be judged by the country where they
were manufactured. The following list shows cigar manufacturing countries
and the general strength of the cigars produced there:

StrengthCountry of Origin
Light Bodied or MildJamaica
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
United States
Medium BodiedMexico
Honduras- (Med-Full)
Full BodiedHonduras
Costa Rica

100% Handmade Cigars

100% handmade cigars are produced without the use of any machines.

Example: JR Ultimate Cigars

Handmade Cigars

On handmade cigars, the wrapper is applied by hand to a bunch (combined, blended filler leaves) with a manual or motor driven machine. Often these cigars are referred to as “machine bunched; hand made”.

Example: Montesino Cigars , Macanudo Cigars

Machine Made Cigars – Short Filler

These cigars are made entirely by a machine. The ingredients are all tobacco but it is short filler, or scrap filler, tobacco.

Example: Topper cigars

Machine Made Cigars – Short Filler, Natural Tobacco Wrapper

These cigars are made entirely by machine using short filler or scrap filler tobacco. The wrapper is natural, but the binder is created from homogenized tobacco.

Example: JR Famous Cigars, Garcia y Vega Cigars, Antonio y Cleopatra Cigars

Machine Made Cigars – Short Filler, and Homogenized

These cigars are made entirely by machine using short filler or scrap filler tobacco, but both the wrapper and binder are created from homogenized tobacco.

Example: El Producto Cigars, White Owl Cigars, Hav-a-Tampa Cigars, and other small flavored cigars with plastic tips

Homogenized Tobacco

Homogenized tobacco is pulverized and mixed with fibers, pure cellulose, and water to create a pulp. The pulp is used to produce a uniform sheet of tobacco (like recycled paper). The sheet is then used for the high-speed production of machine made cigars.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What's trending now...