Not everyone likes a big smoky cigar. It’s too much for some people, and often there’s just not time enough to smoke a cigar that’s that big. One of the great things about cigars, however, is that they’re available in a wide range of sizes for different smokers and different preferences. We’re going to talk about how cigars are classified by size, and what makes each size of cigar a little different.
Ring Gauges – Know Your Size
Let’s get started by talking about ring gauges in regards to cigar size. Cigars are measured lengthwise in fractions or inches, but their diameter is referred to in “ring gauges.” A ring is 1/64 inch, so a cigar that is measured as 6” x 32 would be six inches long and ½” diameter. Sometimes, cigar makers will give their cigars proprietary names that may or may not tell you exactly size the cigar is, but there are cigar size charts that give you a full rundown of cigar names and sizes so you’ll know exactly what to look for.
This is a fairly comprehensive summary of cigar sizes, also referred to as “vitolas.” These are sizes that are industry standards, and are referred to by almost all cigar makers:
- Robusto cigars: The Robusto is 5” x 50, and is a great compromise between taste and time. The Robusto size delivers full bodied flavor and cool smoke in a shorter length. Its shape is traditionally referred to as a Rothschild, and is a popular choice for many cigar smokers.
- Panatela cigars: This traditional cigar size is 6” x 38 and has always been a favorite in Europe. Its elegant, sleek size was popular in the 50s and 60s and is a good fit for many smokers.
- Lonsdale cigars: At 6 ½” x 42, the Lonsdale is another popular choice in the United States. It has recently been losing ground, however, to fatter, larger-ringed cigars.
- Half Corona cigars: With a 4 ¼” x 42 size, the Half Corona is short and to the point. It can deliver all the taste of a bigger cigar, except with a shorter smoking time.
- Petit Corona cigars: This 5” x 38 cigar has long been a popular choice. It’s a great after-dinner cigar that can pair well with a complementary drink, and lasts a bit longer for a leisurely smoke.
- Corona Gorda cigars: The name literally translates as “fat corona,” and at 6” x 50, it’s definitely a substantial cigar. Sometimes referred to as a “Toro,” the Corona Gorda size delivers big flavor and a fairly lengthy smoke.
- Belicoso cigars: The Belicoso is usually a short pyramid shape, with a slightly rounded head. They can measure around 5 to 5 ½” and a ring gauge of about 50. They also resemble a corona or corona gorda cigar, except with a tapered head. Mini-belicosos are also popular, with a shorter length and smaller ring gauge.
- Culebra cigars: These are a bit of an oddity. Culebras are usually three panatelas twisted together in a braid and bound up with string, then sold as one cigar. The three parts are to be smoked separately after being unbraided. They’re usually 5 to 6 inches long with about a 38 ring gauge. Culebras can be hard to come by, and are often shared with friends after being unbraided.
- Diadema cigars: This is truly the Big Daddy of the cigar world. The Diadema size can be 8 ½” or longer, with a tapered head and about a 40 ring gauge. The foot of the cigar can be closed or open, like a Parejo cigar. A Diadema can take an hour or more to smoke, so make sure you’ve got time.
- Perfecto cigars: Tapered at both ends, Perfecto cigars are short and fat, at 4 5/8” x 52.
There is, of course, no correlation between the size of a cigar and its strength. A gigantic Diadema might be mild, while a stubby Cheroot could be strong and full-bodied. The flavor will come from the mix of filler leaves, the wrapper and the binder, and will depend entirely on the strains of these tobaccos and how they were cured, fermented and handled. It’s also important to remember that no two brands of cigars are going to taste the same, even if they’re the same size. One company’s Corona cigar is likely to be entirely different from another’s Corona.
In the end, it depends on your preference and how much time you have to actually sit down and smoke a cigar. After all, nobody likes to have to only get halfway through their smoke and then have to snuff it out. We hope this guide to cigar sizes gives you a little something to go on when you go to buy premium cigars.