If it’s one of the first few times you are buying a cigar at a cigar smoke shop, you may find it quite complicated. Cigars come in many shapes and sizes. Preferences for each are really down to the individual. Let it be clear right off the top, the shape or size of a cigar does not indicate strength or quality of a cigar. Do not be fooled that a larger cigar is better. Experiment and try cigar sampler packs.
The most common way to categorize a cigar it’s shape and size. In the past the cigar industry has been using terms (names) that correspond to the approximate length and thickness (width) of the cigar, however, the actual size of a cigar with a particular name can be different among manufacturers.
Many modern manufacturers have created their own names for their sizes, along with some unique tobacco artistry. This can make purchasing a cigar by name more difficult than it used to be. It is probably better to know the shape and size by description, and not name unless you have a personal favorite stogie or cigar brand that you are very familiar with. Once you understand the basics, it is a lot more interesting and impressive to use the size and shapes of a cigar to describe it. It is an esoteric part of cigar smoking. Welcome to the club.
Cigars are measured in length and width (thickness) dimensions. The length is measured in inches. The width is measured by ring gauge. The ring gauge of a cigar is in actuality the diameter expressed in 64ths of an inch. That is a 64 ring gauge cigar (if you can find one) is 1″ (inch) thick, 32 ring is 1/2 inch thick. That really is all there is to it.
As I mentioned above size does not determine the strength of the cigar. Tobacco choices of the manufacturers do all of that. Thinner cigars burn faster and have a tendency to burn hotter than thicker ones. This is a turn off to some cigar smokers. Feel free to ask your dealer at you local cigar smoke shop to try and find the right size for your occasion.
There are many names for the various sizes (and shapes) of cigars, but here are just a few of the more common terms that you may encounter, and the approximate range of their dimensions. You may never have to use the terms that refer to the shape of a cigar since most of the common names for cigars are usually associated with their size, But if you want to truly be part of the cigar culture, it’s interesting to understand what these terms refer to:
A parejo cigar is a term that describes the group of cigars that have perfectly straight sides with a cylindrical shape, topped by a rounded head. Generally speaking these have an open foot for lighting and a rounded head with a cap that need to be cut before smoking. These are the most common group of cigars on the market. Among this group of cigars includes the following:
Corona – This is the traditional cigar shape and size by which all other cigars are measured. Typically these are 51/2 to 6 inches long and have a ring gauge of 42 to 44.
Petit Corona – this is as you may expect, a smaller corona. Normally about 41/2 inches in length, and 40 to 42 ring gauge.
Toro or Corona Gordo– This is a classic standard included size for most cigar manufacturers. It is a parejo with common measurements of 6×50. That is 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 50.
Churchill – Named after the famous man who smoked cigars of this size, Sir Winston Churchill, these are a large corona format. This is a toro cigar plus one extra inch in its length. Very long at 7 inches with a 47 to 50 ring gauge.
Robusto – A short thick cigar usually 5 inches long and with a 50 ring gauge. A Toro less one inch.
Panetela – These are long, but thinner versions of a corona. Typically between 5 to 7 inches with a modest ring gauge of 34 to 38.
This is any cigar with an irregular non standard corona shape (e.g. having a cone-shaped head) is called a figurado. Here are some examples of them:
Torpedo or Pyramid: This is a cigar with a tapered head that comes to a very sharp point. Pyramid cigars generally measure 6 to 7 inches with a ring gauge of 52 to 54. These cigars allow for variable cuts with a straight cutter in the foot of the cigar to accommodate the draw that is preferable to the smoker.
Belicoso: These cigars are just shorter Torpedo cigars. They are 5 to 5 1/2 inches.
Perfecto: A cigar that is tapered on both ends.
Salomón: A Salomón is a very large Perfecto-shaped cigar with a tapered end that is usually cut flush.
Diadema: This is a perfecto-shaped cigar similar to a Salomón, but slightly longer and thinner
Culebra: This unusual cigar features three individual cigars size braided together in a pretzel shape. the word Culebra is Spanish for “snake”. You are expected to separate the cigars before smoking them- perhaps share the others with friends.
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