Cigar Shapes and Sizes
Discover the art of cigar shapes and sizes in our comprehensive guide. Explore the nuances of parejos and figurados, from coronas to torpedos, and understand how they influence your smoking experience. Delve into the world of wrapper colors and find the perfect cigar for your palate.
Understanding the World of Cigar Vitolas
For cigar aficionados, choosing the right cigar involves more than just the brand and blend. The size and shape of a cigar, often referred to as its vitola, play a crucial role in the overall smoking experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deeper into the fascinating world of cigar shapes and sizes, shedding light on how these factors can influence your enjoyment of fine tobacco.
The Basics of Cigar Sizing
Before we delve into the intriguing world of cigar shapes, let’s establish a fundamental understanding of how cigars are sized. Cigar sizes are typically measured in two dimensions: length and ring gauge.
- Length: Cigar length is measured in inches and can vary from as short as 3 ½ inches to as long as 9 inches, or even longer in rare cases. Most cigars fall within the 4 ½ to 7 ½-inch range.
- Ring Gauge: Ring gauge refers to the cigar’s diameter and is measured in 64ths of an inch. This measurement can range from a thin 34 to a thick 80, with the most common cigars falling between 38 and 60 in ring gauge.
Does Cigar Size Affect Strength?
While cigar size is an essential consideration, especially for how long you’ll enjoy your smoke, it does not directly dictate a cigar’s flavor or strength. These characteristics are primarily determined by the composition of the cigar’s tobacco blend, which includes the filler, binder, and wrapper leaves.
However, there is a noteworthy correlation between size and flavor. Thinner cigars tend to burn hotter than their thicker counterparts. The reason behind this lies in physics: smaller cigars have a higher surface area relative to their volume, leading to a more concentrated combustion process. As a result, thinner cigars often emphasize the flavors of the wrapper leaf, as there’s a smaller ratio of filler and binder tobaccos influencing the taste.
In contrast, larger cigars with a higher proportion of filler tobacco tend to burn cooler and offer a longer smoking experience. The wrapper leaf’s influence on the overall flavor may be somewhat diluted, but it still plays a significant role.
Now, let’s embark on a journey through the two primary categories of cigar shapes: Parejos and Figurados.
Parejos: Straight-Shaped Cigars
Parejo cigars are characterized by their straight-sided, cylindrical shape. These cigars have even sides and typically feature an open foot, which is the end you light, and a closed head, which is the end you place in your mouth. Here are some of the classic Parejo shapes:
- Corona: The benchmark size against which all others are measured. Coronas traditionally measure 5 ½ to 6 inches with a ring gauge of 42 to 44. A fine example is the 5½×42 Coronita Connecticut.
- Lancero: A slender cigar, traditionally measuring 6 ½ to 7 ½ inches with a 38 to 42 ring gauge. The 7 ¼×38 Lancero Connecticut is a classic example.
- Lonsdale: Slightly longer than a corona but thicker than a panetela, the lonsdale typically measures 6 ½ inches by 42 ring gauge. Consider the 6½ ×42 Coronita Maduro.
- Panetela: A long and slender vitola whose popularity has waned in recent years. These cigars have lengths ranging from 5 to 7 ½ inches and a ring gauge of 34 to 38. Cigars longer than 7 inches in this category are often referred to as “gran panetelas.” The 7 ¼×38 Lancero Connecticut and 7 ¼×38 Lancero Habano fit this category.
- Petit Corona: Essentially a miniature corona, these cigars usually measure about 4 ½ inches with a ring gauge of 40 to 42. The 4 ½×48 Petit Maduro is a delightful choice.
- Robusto: A short, stout cigar that has become exceptionally popular in the United States. Robustos are generally 4 ¾ to 5 ½ inches long with a ring gauge of 48 to 52. The 5×50 Robusto Habano exemplifies this style.
- Corona Gorda: Also known as a toro, this cigar is gaining popularity. It traditionally measures 5 5/8 inches by 46 ring gauge, but variations with a 6-inch length and 50-ring gauge have become common. The 6×52 Toro Connecticut and 6×52 Toro Maduro are classic examples.
- Churchill: Named after Winston Churchill, this larger corona format typically measures 7 inches by 47 ring gauge. Try the 7×48 Churchill Connecticut from Honduras.
- Double Corona: These are substantial smokes, with standard dimensions of 7 ½ to 8 ½ inches by a 49 to 52 ring gauge. Explore the 7 ½×50 Box Pressed Doble Corona Habano or the 7½×50 Box Pressed Doble Corona Maduro.
- Gordo: The offensive lineman of cigars, featuring a 60-plus ring gauge and lengths between 6 to 7 inches. The 6×60 Gordo Connecticut and 6×60 Gordo Maduro are popular choices.
- Grande: Known for their generous ring gauges, grandes have become a significant trend in the cigar world. These fat cigars, once considered a fad, are now produced by nearly every major premium cigar maker outside of Cuba. With ring gauges of 60 and beyond, some even reaching 70 or 80, grandes are a minimum of 4 ¾ inches in length. The 7×70 Extra Gordo Maduro is a prime example of this modern trend.
Figurados: Tapered-Shaped Cigars
While the majority of cigars adhere to the Parejo style, an increasing number of cigar companies are introducing more creatively shaped smokes known as figurados. These cigars depart from the traditional straight-sided cylinder and include any cigar that is not strictly parejo. Here are the key types of figurados:
- Pyramid: Pyramids are cigars with cut feet, similar to parejos, but with heads tapered to a point. Typically measuring 6 to 7 inches in length, with ring gauges of about 40 at the head that gradually widen to 52 to 54 at the foot.
- Belicoso: Traditional belicosos are short pyramids, often with a slightly rounded pyramid head. They usually measure from 5 to 5 ½ inches, with ring gauges of about 50. Some modern belicosos may resemble coronas or corona gordas with tapered heads.
- Torpedo: Torpedoes are similar to pyramids, but the term is often used to describe pyramids with sharper points. For instance, the 6 ½X60 Torpedo “The Bullet” is a popular torpedo.
- Perfecto: Perfectos are characterized by both a tapered foot and a tapered head, typically with a bulge in the middle. Their length can vary significantly, and they range from symmetrical shapes like the Salomoncito series.
- Culebra: The culebra is a unique and exotic shape consisting of three panetelas braided together and tied with string, sold as one cigar. Each of the three parts is unbraided and smoked separately. Culebras are typically 5 to 6 inches long with a 38 ring gauge. Due to their rarity, smoking a culebra is often considered a special occasion.
- Diadema: Diademas are massive figurados with tapers at both the head and foot, often measuring eight inches or more in length. The Salomon Collection is a well-regarded example of this style.
Cigar Wrapper Colors
Cigar wrappers come in various colors, indicating the type of tobacco and its processing. From light to dark, the seven commonly used wrapper colors are:
- Double Claro (Candela): Light green, achieved through quick drying.
- Claro: Light tan, often grown in shade.
- Colorado Claro: Light reddish-brown, typically grown in direct sunlight.
- Colorado: Medium-brown to brownish-red, often shade grown.
- Colorado Maduro: Darker than Colorado but lighter than Maduro.
- Maduro: Deep reddish-brown to almost black, with a sweet and robust flavor.
- Oscuro: Black-as-night, achieved through extended fermentation.
As you explore the world of cigars, remember that the size and shape of your chosen vitola can significantly impact your smoking experience. Each cigar shape offers a unique blend of flavors, aromas, and burn characteristics. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of a corona, the boldness of a gordo, or the artistic allure of a figurado, the world of cigars presents a myriad of options to cater to your discerning palate.
So, take your time, experiment, and savor the journey as you discover the diverse and flavorful realm of fine cigars. Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado or a newcomer to the world of cigars, there’s always a vitola waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Happy smoking!