When it comes to the world of cigars, there are so many small details that can be difficult to figure out. This is true especially for newcomers to the hobby. It can seem overwhelming to walk into a humidor and see hundreds of different cigars with different wrapper shades, sizes, or cigar shapes. The size and shape of a cigar is typically referred to as a vitola. Finding the vitola that suits your cigar smoking preferences perfectly can take some trial and error, but once you find your perfect smoke, it will all be worth it.
What is a Vitola?
A vitola is the name of the combined size and shape of a cigar. For example: robusto, toro, gordo, and churchill are some common vitolas that we see. Generally speaking, a robusto cigar will be five inches long and have a ring gauge of 50, which would be notated as 5×50. However, the most confusing part about vitolas, is the fact that they are not standardized across the world of cigars. Two different manufacturers could both produce two different cigars under a “robusto” vitola, and those two cigars will likely not be the exact same size as the other. Some manufacturers make a 5×52 robusto, some might make them a little thinner, but it depends on the cigar manufacturer.
Many cigar makers will produce a torpedo cigar shape in their portfolio. A torpedo is usually toro sized, 6×52, but instead of a rounded flat cap, the cap comes to a point, like a torpedo head. The shorter relative of the torpedo is the belicoso, which is usually a shorter size cigar with a less pronounced torpedo cap. However, some companies will also use the terms interchangeably, and some will combine features of the two, like having a short cigar with a sharp and pronounced torpedo tip. You will likely come across long belicosos and short torpedoes at some point in your cigar smoking journey, so it is important to know how these terms are used.
The last important feature of a cigar’s vitola are the cigar shapes that the sides of the cigar take. The two terms to remember here are parejo and figurado. When you think of a typical cigar shape, you are likely thinking of a parejo. Parejo cigars have straight sides and can be either round or box-pressed. A figurado cigar is a cigar that has slanted sides or a combination of slant and straight. For example, a torpedo cigar can be considered a figurado by loose definition, but you might think of something more like a Fuente Hemingway Short Story, with its unique shape, as a more typical example of a figurado cigar shape. All these cigar shapes mentioned are just scratching the surface. There’s plenty more unique cigar vitolas out there to try for yourself.
The Impact of Ring Gauge on a Cigar
Ring gauge can be very important not only to how your cigar feels in your hand. It also affects how your cigar tastes. Many people believe that the wrapper leaf of the cigar provides most of the flavor in a cigar. Some are skeptical of that statement. Well, regardless of where you sit, the ratio of tobacco in the blend of your cigar will make a massive difference in how it tastes.
A 48 ring gauge cigar will taste and burn differently than a 60 ring gauge cigar. It is because the ratios of tobacco will be very different. A thinner cigar is impacted more by the flavor of the wrapper leaf. On the other hand, a thicker cigar will be impacted by the thicker filler tobacco.
As with all aspects of cigar, there is no one right size to go with; the ideal cigar size is completely up to the smoker. Some cigar smokers want a thin quick smoke featuring their favorite wrapper. On the other hand, some cigar smokers prefer a thicker ring gauge cigar. They prefer this so they can sit down and enjoy a nice long smoke.
Types of Wrapper Leaves
There are a plethora of wrapper leaf varieties covering a wide spectrum of color and flavor. We will go over some of the more common types of wrapper leaves now. Moreover, we will talk about the effect those leaves have on the flavor and color of your cigar.
- Connecticut Broadleaf – CT Broadleaf grows commonly in the Connecticut River Valley and is a dark leaf that is used for many prized maduro cigars like Foundation’s Tabernacles. These tobacco leaves produce a rich, full bodied flavor and a toothy look to the cigars they cover.
- Connecticut Shade – This lighter variation of tobacco is used for some more mild to medium bodied cigars like Drew Estate’s Undercrown Shade or Padron’s Damaso. The leaves themselves appear smooth on the cigar and light in color.
- Habano – Habano wrapper leaves are grown from Cuban seed and produce a medium-dark brown color. The flavor coming from these leaves commonly produces spicy and earthy flavors. They are usually used in medium to full-bodied cigars. The Aganorsa Leaf Habano is a great cigar to try to understand more about the characteristics of a habano wrapper.
- Candela – Candela cigars were at one point in time the best selling cigars in the United States, many years back. Now, they are a bit less common, as cigar smokers’ preferences have shifted to stronger flavor profiles. Candela leaves have a green hue and produce an incredibly mild flavor, usually featuring a sweet-grassy taste. If you are looking to try a Candela for yourself, the Illusione Candela is a great option to go with.
Choosing the Right Cigar for You
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right cigar for you. Even though we covered a lot of basics here, this is just scratching the surface of the complexity of the cigar world.
The simple truth of the matter is that with all of the different combinations available between cigar shapes, cigar size, and cigar color, there probably is not any one cigar that is perfect for you. In fact, there are probably many different cigars that are perfect for you. You just have to try a bunch of different cigars to figure out what works best for you.
That’s where Smoke Inn comes in to help. With a massive humidor full of options and a friendly and knowledgeable staff, Smoke Inn can help you find the perfect cigar, or cigars, for you, no matter what you are looking for.