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Cigar Basics

  There are many sizes and shapes of cigars categorized by shape, length, and girth known simply as vitolas. By the time you’ve finished this article, you’ll be relatively confident about the types of cigars there are or it’ll all be clear as mud. Remember throughout, that there are many different names for the same thing. This is where confusion can often begin. Don’t let it deter you from grasping the terminology.


  Firstly there is the common shape you all recognize as a cigar, named Parejo. Think Robusto shape. Straight with a rounded cap – the head (where you cut) and an open-end called the foot – where you light. Everything else can be called a figurado. Basically, anything that isn’t straight is a figuardo. Capisce?

  Parejo cigars are those like a Robusto or Lancero, even Churchill; a box-pressed cigar (square instead of round); and perhaps surprisingly, Culebra – three thin cigars that are wrapped/entwined around each other. Braided, then tied with a ribbon at each end to hold them all together. They are actually meant to be smoked one at a time; but if you’re a big goof, you can light them all at once.

  Common types of Figuardo cigars are Bellicoso, Torpedo, Piramide (Pyramid), Oblisco, Chisel, Perfecto. Bellicoso and Torpedo are similar to both tapers at the head. Bellicoso is more rounded whereas Torpedo has a sharper look. Pyramid and Oblisco are also similar to one another. The difference being Pyramids are usually rounded and Oblisco are box-pressed and both taper to a point.

  The main thing to understand about Figuardos is that they will cost more due to the difficulty of rolling them. Not too many rollers are proficient enough to create a uniquely shaped cigar.


  Now that you have different types (shape) of cigars down, let us learn the sizes. Sizes comprise of the length – how long it is, and the gauge – the diameter, how thick it is. Length is measure in inches and the gauge in 1/64th inches. Gauge is short for ring gauge and commonly known as ring size.

  Generally, cigars are 32 (a Panetella) to 54 (a Toro) ring size. Length is given first and then gauge. So a cigar that is 7×42 means it is seven inches long and has a ring size of 42 (which is on the thin side). This example would be a Lancero. And yes, length can also be infractions. A Corona can be five and a quarter inches long and 44/64th inches thick. Or in cigar terms – 5.25×44.

 Typically, the thicker or larger the ring gauge is, the slower the cigar will burn. However, there are wrappers that also give a slow burn time, such as a broadleaf.

  There are approximately a dozen common sizes. From the smallest to largest they rank:

  Petite Cornona (4.5×42), Gordito (4.5×60), Robusto (5×50), Corona (5.25×44), Toro (6×50), Gordo (6×60), Pantela (6×34), Lonsdale (6.5×42), Churchill (7×48), Lancero (7.5×38), Double Corona (7.5×50), Gran Corona (9.25×47).

  Sizes are for the most part standardized but manufacture can play with the numbers to suit their preference.

  A 64 gauge cigar is as wide as a quarter (the U.S. 25 cent piece). On a personal note, anyone smoking something larger than 60 gives cigar smokers a bad name. They’re a novelty. Don’t even buy them as gag gifts. You look ridiculous. Anyone caught purchasing these ‘tree trunks’ needs to be culled on the spot. If you looking for value, there are other avenues to achieve the best ‘bang for your buck’.

  So, how’d you done? Understand well enough to venture out and talk confidently or drowning in the mud? Regardless of what type and/or size of the cigar it is you smoke or like, what really matters is your enjoyment.

The Metro Men
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