Let’s face it. The topic of cigars is pretty vast, and can be a little intimidating to the newly initiated. Working in a cigar shop part-time the past three years has allowed me to meet a bunch of people who want to get into the hobby of cigar smoking, but don’t know where to start. They’re often times intimidated when entering a tobacconist for the first time, and if they go to an online store, they’re overwhelmed by the vast array of choices. So with that in mind, welcome to the Nice Tight Ash Beginners’ Guide to Cigars. We’re going to start with the various sizes and shapes cigars are made in.
Two components make up the size of a cigar: length and ring gauge. Cigars distributed in the U.S. have the length noted in inches, and ring gauge is noted in 64ths of an inch. For example, a cigar that has a 50 ring gauge is 50/64th of an inch.
Cigars are generally divided into parejos and figurados. Parejos are any straight sided cigar with no change in width and a flat head. Everything else, to put it simplistically, is a figurado.
Put them together…
…and you get vitolas. A vitola is the given name for a size and shape of a cigar. Here’s a list of the most vitolas:
- Corona – 5½” x 42
- The standard cigar size, and basis for all other cigar sizes.
- Petite Corona – 5″ x 42
- Short version of the corona
- Corona Gorda – 5½” x 46
- Fatter version of the corona; sometimes called the corona extra
- Double Corona – 7¾” x 49
- Extra long, fat version of the standard corona
- Lonsdale – 6&frac1/2;” x 42
- Longer version of a corona
- Robusto – 5″ x 50
- One of the most popular sizes today; wasn’t made until a few decades ago.
- Toro – 6″ x 50
- Longer version of a robusto
- Churchill – 7″ x 47
- Longer and slightly thinner than a toro
- 6″ x 60
- A fairly new size without a standardized name. Sometimes called a toro extra or gigante
- Lancero – 7½” x 38
- A vitola that faded in popularity, but has soared back in the past couple of years
- Torpedo – 6½” x 52
- Roughly toro sized vitola with a pointed head; length and sharpness of the point varies greatly among brands
- Pyramid – 7″ x 56
- The pyramid is different from the torpedo in that it flares out at the end like the name implies; lots of manufacturers and smokers use this interchangeably with the torpedo.
- Belicoso – 5½” x 50
- Shorter than a torpedo with a shorter, rounder head; once again it varies among brands
- Narrow at the foot and head with a bulge in the middle with no customary length or ring gauge
- Three short, thin cigars braided together and tied for the ends; not very many are made; used to be given to cigar rollers in the morning as their smokes for the day
Exceptions to the rule
These are not not hard and fast rules. Every manufacturer has their own terminology and standards. Some may roll a lancero at 40 ring gauge. Some might roll a Churchill at 7¼” x 50. But that list will give you a general guideline. There are a ton of differences in the naming and dimensions of figurados. That you will have to feel your way through.