Although understanding cigar measurements and vitolas can seem a bit overwhelming and confusing, they are both crucial elements when selecting a cigar. Being able to distinguish between shapes and sizes enables aficionados to recognize the impact it will make on their overall smoking experience. The foundation begins with two basic concepts: the length and the diameter, known as the ring gauge.

The length is most commonly measured in inches, but aficionados may find the occasional odd-ball cigar that uses centimeters. Ring gauge is measured in 64ths of an inch, so the diameter of a smoke with a 64-ring gauge is an inch. For example, the dimensions of a premium cigar with a length of 5 inches and a 46-ring gauge is 5 x 46.

Feel free to put your calculator away since categorizing vitolas is much less technical and far more imprecise. Manufacturers construct cigars with their own size parameters, cap style and vitola names. Also, keep in mind that there are traditional Havana terms and non-Cuban names. The shape of a cigar has two general categories known as Parejos and Figurados, which both have underlying sub-categories. Designed with a straight-edged body and a classically rounded head, Parejos represent the standard cigar shape. Figurados are crafted in irregular shapes and tend to be more of a wild-card category for reasons we’ll delve into shortly.

A favorite Parejo shape is the Churchill, named after history’s most well-known aficionado, Winston Churchill. Generally, a standard Churchill is constructed with a 7-inch length and a ring gauge ranging from 47 to 54 (7 x 47 to 54). Due to the rounded head and meaty diameter, Churchills can be enjoyed with any type of cigar cut. Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour is a superb example of this iconic vitola. The longer, fuller shape of a Churchill enables the flavors to develop into a more complex profile further into the smoke. The science behind this attribute is that even though the tobaccos towards the head and center may not have an ember yet, they are influenced by the continuous heat.

Another popular Parejo shape is the Toro, known as a Double Robusto in Havana terms. Generally, the standard dimensions are 6 to 6.5 inches in length with a ring gauge between 50 and 54. A prime specimen of a classic Toro is the Montecristo Epic, which has 6 x 52 dimensions and holds up perfectly with any type of cut. The Toro size offers aficionados a luxurious, savory smoke that enables flavors and textures to mature evenly.

Aficionados should be on the lookout for Lanceros, a Parejo first developed in Cuba by Cohiba. Originally, the Lancero was only rolled for Fidel Castro, but quickly began building popularity among cigar enthusiasts. Savvy connoisseurs know that roughly 85% of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper. By crafting a thinner smoke with less filler and binder tobaccos, the wrapper’s rich flavors become more pronounced, disproving the misnomer that bigger smokes are better. Measuring in at 7 x 40, the Liga Privada Unico Serie L40 Lancero by Drew Estate Cigars is a top-rated smoke that needs to be in the repertoire of anyone who considers themselves a true aficionado.

The Petit Corona is a tinier version of the traditional Parejo Corona shape. Typically, the dimensions for a Petit Corona ranges from 4.5 to 5 inches in length with a ring gauge between 38 and 42. The Rocky Patel Java Petit Corona flaunts a dainty size so the ideal cut would be a straight guillotine, as the ring gauge is too small to accommodate a punch and V-Cut.

The more diverse and less standardized Figurado category ranges from iconic shapes like the Torpedo to eye-catching designs like Culebra, which was developed for cigar factory’s torcedors. It is important to always remember that cigar companies have carte blanche when it comes to construction and naming the final product. For aficionados, this means that although a cigar might be labeled as a Pyramid, it could more closely resemble a Torpedo leading to some confusion.

An attribute unique to Torpedos is a sharply pointed tapered head that serves to centralize the draw. This often results in Torpedos concentrating a cigar’s flavor profile onto the taste buds and burning slower, however factors like craftsmanship and tobacco varieties may affect those characteristics. Typically, aficionados give Torpedos a straight guillotine cut or in some cases a V-cut. Some of the most recognizable cigars in the world are available as a Torpedo, such as the Montecristo No.2. For a more modern version of this shape, you should also check out the El Gueguense Torpedo by Foundation Cigars. Overall, Torpedos give blends a sophisticated appearance, while also siphoning the flavors directly onto the palate.    

Another member of the Figurado family is the Belicoso, which can also easily be mistaken for a Torpedo due to their similar appearances. A major telltale difference is the shorter length of a Belicoso. The other distinguishing attribute is the tapered head, which is historically more rounded in a Belicoso size. La Aroma de Cuba Belicoso is a great example of the traditionally accepted format of the elegant vitola.

Although understanding the breakdown of sizes and shapes is important in helping aficionados select the ideal smoke, it does not account for other crucial factors. The quality of tobacco and construction coupled with if a cigar was adequately humidified affects the flavor profile and smoking experience. The best way for aficionados to figure out their palate preferences is to experiment. Explore the amazing collection of blends available on SeriousCigars.com today and find your new favorite smoke. Be sure to join the email list to receive exclusive offers and special discounts!

POSTED ON Jan 26, 2018

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