When thinking about the various factors that influence what type of cigar to buy, the shape and size feature high on the list of considerations.
And rightly so because the shape and size of a cigar greatly impact the intensity, burn time and ratio of the three main ingredients of every handmade cigar.
That’s why we’ve created this overview and general guide to the different cigar shapes and sizes to help clarify why you may prefer certain shapes and sizes.
How to Determine the Size of a Cigar
Cigar sizes are measured in two dimensions: Length and ring gauge. Length is measured in inches. Ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch - the same way your fingers are measured when you get a wedding band.
Most handmade premium cigars are between 4 ½ and 7 ½ inches long while the ring gauge of cigars can vary from 34 (very thin) to 80 (extremely thick). That said, most cigars have a ring gauge between 38 and 60.
Does Cigar Size Affect Strength?
While cigar size does play a role, it is not an absolute indicator of flavor or strength. Of greater influence is the kind of tobacco used to make the cigar.
Where size really matters is if you are comparing a thinner cigar to a thicker cigar that contains the same blend of binder, filler and wrapper tobaccos.
Smoking a long and slender Lanceros (7 x 38) is a very different experience to a Gordo (6 x 62), as the ratio of filler and wrapper tobacco is very different for each size.
In a thinner cigar like the Lanceros, the wrapper dominates the flavor because the ratio of binder to filler tobacco inside is lower.
The Gordo, on the other hand, is much thicker and the flavor of the wrapper is diluted by a higher proportion of filler tobaccos.
With a thick cigar, the filler has a greater impact on the flavor because there is more of it. That said, in both cases, the wrapper still has a noticeable impact on the flavor and strength of the cigar.
Types Of Cigar Shapes
There are two basic categories of cigars: parejos (straight shapes) and figurados (tapered shapes).
The parejo is a straight cylinder with even sides and an open foot (the end you light). Before you smoke a parejo you cut at the head (the end you put in your mouth). Parejos can be round or box-pressed. Box-pressed means that the length of the cigar has been compressed into a square.
The other shape is the figurado, a cigar that does not have a straight cylindrical shape; usually, the head is tapered, and sometimes both ends are pointed. Here are the different main vitolas (the cigar factory term for a cigar shape) in each category.
This is pretty much the standard cigar. It is usually between 5 1/2 and 6 inches long and has a ring gauge between 42 and 44.
The Ashton Corona is a good example of a popular corona cigar. This cigar is an excellent and smooth smoke that doesn't call for a two-hour commitment. Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 3 (51/2 x 44) is a gem from Arturo Fuente. With a glistening Cameroon wrapper leaf encapsulating the well-aged Dominican long-fillers, you are in fora smoke with the ideal balance of luscious aromas.
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This cigar was named after Winston Churchill and is a longer version of the Corona, about 6 3/4 - 7 inches, with a slightly larger ring gauge in the 48-50 range. Almost every manufacturer offers a Churchill. The Romeo y Julieta Churchill from Cuba made this shape popular. The Honduran Romeo y Julieta Reserve Churchill and The Ashton ESG 20-Year Salute from the Dominican Republic are popular Churchill cigars.
This shape is traditionally about 5 5/8 inches long and has a ring gauge of 46, ranging up to 48. A classic version of this vitola is the Ashton Symmetry Prism, which blossoms with tremendous complexity through a blend of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos under an Ecuadorian-grown Cuban-seed wrapper.
Traditionally, this cigar is between 7 ½ and 8 ½ inches tall and has a ring gauge of 49 to 52. The Honduran version is slightly smaller at 6 ¾ x 48. Probably the most widely known double corona cigar is the Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona.
Another popular double corona is the Ashton Heritage Double Corona. At 7 x 52, will last all 18 holes on your favorite golf course.
Essentially a miniature version of the traditional Corona format, Petit Corona cigars offer an excellent concentration of flavor in a more concise shape. Cigar lovers often select a Petite Corona cigar in their favorite blends for occasions that require a shorter burn time. Looking for a great go-to option when you want to treat yourself to a wonderful smoke before dinner? This is it! The Davidoff Signature Petit Corona (4 1/2 x 41) and the Bolivar Petit Coronas (5 x 42) are brilliant standard-bearers of this shape.
We are in the big leagues now. Gordos come with a ring gauge of over 60 and a length of about six to seven inches. Some are even available in 8 x 70 format! These big boys have become a phenomenon in recent years. Fans of Nicaraguan cigars love the Padrón 1964 Anniversary #4 and the La Aroma de Cuba Reserva Pomposo, both 6 1/2 x 60. A Gordo often offers a big, cool-burning draw that develops slowly.
Many love the lancero shape because most of the flavor of a cigar is in the wrapper and this format shows off the nuances of the wrapper particularly well. The first lancero was known as "El Laguito No. 1," named after the Cuban factory where it was made. Davidoff followed with the Cuban Davidoff No.1 (7 3/5 x 38) which was sadly discontinued in 1991. Today the Cuban Davidoff No. 1 is one of the most sought-after lanceros and a box of 25 cigars will cost a whopping $10,000!
Probably the most popular shape in the U.S. today, this short, plump cigar is usually between 4 3/4 and 5 1/2 inches long with a ring gauge between 48 and 52. The Cohiba Robusto, 4 7/8 x 50, is Cuba's contribution here. The Ashton Magnum, 5 x 50, and the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto, 5 1/4 x 50, are prime examples from the Dominican Republic.
The torpedo cigar shape, also known as a pyramid cigar, has a sharply tapered head, while the rest of the cigar shape is straight. Although the torpedo format can vary in size, lengths of 6 to 7 inches and ring gauges of 52 to 54 are common.
Torpedo cigars are great for cigar aficionados who prefer a higher concentration in their favorite blends. The gradual taper of a Torpedo tip gives you the ability to cut the cigar in different areas.
Depending on how far down you place your cut on a torpedo, you'll get a different smoke flow. Cut close to the tip for a more concise draw, or cut a little further down for a greater volume of smoke with each puff.
This way, you can tailor your smoking experience to your preferences and have control over the smoke.
This cigar is distinguished by being tapered at both ends and having a closed foot, although some cigars are cut open right at the tip. Perfectos are more about shape than size, as they vary greatly from brand to brand.
Arturo Fuente Hemingway is the best example of this shape. Iconic perfectos in the Arturo Fuente Hemingway line include the Short Story in 4 x 49, the Signature in 6 x 47, and the Classic in 7 x 48, each expressing the remarkable blend of a Cameroon wrapper and aged Dominican long-fillers.
A Belicoso is best understood in contrast to other pointed-head cigars. It's often shorter, more pointed and blunter than other figurados. The Belicoso was popularized by the Cuban Bolivar brand in the 1950s and is still a worthwhile cigar style to this very day.
The Ashton VSG Belicoso No.1 in the 5 1/4 x 52 size is an exemplary rendition from the Dominican Republic. If you want something stronger, the Flor de las Antillas Belicoso in the 5 1/2 x 54 size is a tasty, all-Nicaraguan blend.
As you develop your taste for premium cigars, you'll likely find that certain blends are more appealing or tastier than others.
You may like a stronger smoke in a more concentrated petit format, while larger ring gauge cigars offer a mellow yet flavorful character.
Keep a record of the cigar vitolas you like the most and those you like the least. Knowing which format suits you best in a particular blend can be very helpful in building a collection and developing your cigar palate.