A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Cigar Shapes and Sizes
There are a few factors to consider when determining which size cigar to smoke. To start, cigars have two primary measurements:
- The diameter (called the ring gauge).
- The length.
The ring gauge is always measured in 64ths of an inch, meaning that a ring gauge of 64 would be a full inch in diameter (which is actually a very fat, probably non-existent, cigar).
In the U. S. and England, the length is measured in inches. But in many other countries, sticks are sized in centimeters. Cigars can also be identified by their shape and how they’re capped. All these parameters lead to a cigar’s name or vitola.
Sizes and Shapes
The dimensions and shape of a cigar have important implications. The size of the cigar, small or large, indicates the length of time one will invest in the smoke. Needless to say, the smaller the cigar, the shorter the smoke; and the larger the cigar, the longer the smoke.
For instance, there is one rather short cigar nicknamed the “Dog-Walker”, because its maker wanted a cigar to smoke during the time he spent walking his dog: about 20 to 30 minutes. On the other hand, bigger cigars are often associated with celebration or spending a long time smoking to crown a great victory or achievement.
A cigar’s physical attributes also determine some burning properties. Though, of course, the tobacco itself also significantly affects burn. A thicker cigar like the Davidoff Maduro Series will smolder slower and at a cooler temperature, leading to a somewhat mild draw. Reversely, a thinner model like the Joya de Nicaragua Antano will burn a bit hotter and be a bit stronger.
This means when a cigar is listed as the ‘same’– in terms of tobacco brand and name – it will most likely taste slightly different depending on the size and shape you choose.
Parejos vs. Figurados
Depending on a cigar’s physical appearance, it is either called a parejo (straight edged) or figurado (irregular shaped).
Parejos are the standard cigar shape: straight and smooth, with a classic rounded end to be clipped before smoking. Figurados, on the other hand, can come in many shapes, ranging from torpedo (with a pointed smoking end) to a perfecto, which is almost like a double torpedo.
Here’s a simple, comprehensive arrangement of the most common cigar names, and sizes. The traditional ‘Havana term’ is listed first, followed by the non-Cuban name where different, and a short description.
Corona – 5.00 to 5.50 x 42/44
The standard cigar size, and the basis for all other cigar sizes.
Mareva (Petite Corona) – 4.75 to 5.00 x 39/42
Shorter version of the Corona.
Corona Gorda (Corona Grand) – 5.50 x 46
Fatter version of the Corona; sometimes called the Corona Extra.
Prominente (Double Corona) – 6.50 to 7.75 x 48/49
Extra-long, fat version of the standard Corona.
Cervante (Lonsdale) – 6.00 to 6.50 x 42
Longer version of a Corona.
Robusto – 5.00 x 50/54
One of the most popular sizes today, Robustos weren’t actually made until a few decades ago.
Double Robusto (Toro) – 6.00 x 50/54
Longer version of a Robusto.
Julieta 2 (Churchill) – 7.00 x 47/54
Longer and slightly thinner than a Double Robusto.
Laguito No. 1 (Lancero) – 7.00 to 7.50 x 38/39
This is a vitola that faded in popularity, but has soared back into aficionados’ sights in the past couple of years.
Torpedo – 6.50 to 7.50 x 50/54
Roughly Toro-sized with a pointed head. Length and sharpness of the point varies greatly from brand to brand.
Pirámides (Pyramid) – 7.00 x 52/56
The Pyramid is different from the Torpedo in that it flares out at the end, like this Padron Anniversary Series Pyramide. Lots of manufacturers and smokers enjoy this interchangeably with the Torpedo.
Belicoso – 5.50 x 50
Shorter than a Torpedo with a shorter, rounder head; once again its actual pointiness varies among brands.
Narrow at the foot and head with a bulge in the middle with no customary length or ring gauge.
Three short, thin cigars braided together and tied at the ends. Culebras used to be given to cigar rollers in the morning as their smokes for the day.
As a final note on cigar shape and size, there is a rather common fallacy that says larger cigars are in some way better and therefore reflect the smoker’s level of masculinity or machismo. This is a largely American misconception, related to a general belief that “bigger is better,” especially for men.
Though larger cigars can offer a complex, extended smoke, every cigar has something significant to offer in its own individual way. Exploring a variety of cigar shapes and sizes, within the larger pool of brands and names, will offer the beginner cigar smoker an incredibly interesting experience. So go out and find your preference today!