Collect Cigars that Cover a Variety of Tastes
Part of the joy of being a brother or sister of the leaf is having a great cigar on hand for every occasion. That includes a mix of your every-day favorites, special cigars reserved for celebrations or special occasions, as well as cigars that others prefer for one reason or another. However, your collection should mostly reflect “you” – your preferred aromas, flavors and shapes.
Cigars Come in Many Sizes and Shapes
When it comes to cigars, size does not equal strength – The tobaccos used to make the cigar determine its strength. The different sizes and shapes will influence how long a cigar will last when smoking it, and how the flavors meld in your mouth. Different brands will vary the shape and sizes of their cigars.
Hover over the cigars below for more info
1 - Parejo
Most common shape - straight sided, either round or box-pressed, with an open foot (the end you light). Includes Corona, Churchill, Robusto, Panatela and Lonsdale.
2 - Chisel
Head is shaped like a woodwind instrument or chisel.
3 - Torpedo
Closed foot, head tapers to a point with a straight body, like an actual torpedo.
4 - Presidente
Large, long, straight sided, with a closed head.
5 - Perfecto
Closed, nipple-like foot, with a rounded head that appears bulged in the middle.
6 - Pyramid
Open foot narrowing to a point at the head like a pyramid, but much more subtle.
7 - Culebra
Three panatela cigars (thin parejos) braided together, tied with string; usually unbraided to smoke each strand individually.
8 - Salomon
Tapered at both ends, the head is similar to a belicoso; the foot often narrows to a nipple shape.
The length of a cigar is expressed in inches while the diameter – the ring gauge – is expressed in 64ths of an inch. For example, a 6 x 52 cigar is six inches long with a ring gauge of 52/64ths of an inch.
The wrapper is the outermost part of a cigar holding the filler and binder tobaccos together. It is usually made from the larger, lower leaves of the plant. The best wrappers are blemish-free and have a slight sheen of oil from the curing process. The color of the wrapper may give some indication of the flavor and strength of a cigar, but it is the sum of all the tobaccos in the blend that gives a cigar its particular body and strength.
Click on the cigar wrappers below to learn more
- Light green
- Color achieved by quick-drying process that uses heat to trap the chlorophyll in the leaf
- Could have grassy, cedar and peppery flavors with a bit of sweetness; leafy aromas
- Light tan
- Color achieved by growing under cheesecloth tents under the shade, harvesting early and air-drying leaves
- Could have a dry taste with flavors of cream, butter, pepper, coffee or cedar; spicy, slightly ammonia aromas
- Light reddish-brown
- Color achieved by growing in direct sun and maturing longer before harvest
- Could have cedar, leather, toffee and wood flavors
- Medium brown to brownish-red
- Color achieved by growing in shade from natural cloud cover, cheesecloth, etc.
- Full-flavored with soft, subtle aromas
- Darker brown
- Color achieved by fermenting the leaves longer at a higher temperature
- Rich, medium to full-bodied flavor
- Deep reddish-brown to almost black
- Color achieved by longer curing times and either toasting leaves in a pressure chamber or fermenting longer at above-average heat
- Robust, almost sweet, caramel flavors with tasting notes of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, brown sugar and dried fruit; mild aromas
- Color achieved by using the leaves near the top of the plant, kept on the stalk as long as possible and fermented for a longer period of time.
- Deep sweetness and strong, rich flavor
Some cigar enthusiasts prefer more aromatic flavors and tastes outside of what traditional premium tobaccos can offer. Infused cigars make a great option for these smokers, and there are many excellent infused cigar picks to choose from. Methods for infusing cigars vary from exposing the leaves to specific aromas to spraying the flavor on the leaves. They’re worth a try if you like to explore different kinds of cigars – and while some traditionalists might dismiss them, an infused cigar can deliver a unique, intense and palate-pleasing smoke.
Understanding Cigar Reviews and Ratings
Reviews help you sort through the wide array of cigar choices to find selections you enjoy. A good review will give you blending and background information about the cigar – this information is key to helping you discover certain tobaccos and/or blends that you prefer.
Among the various rating criteria, look for information about construction, how evenly the cigar burns and the color and consistency of the ash, pre-light flavors, aroma, flavors on each third and retrohale notes. Those details will tell you what kind of smoke to expect.
Pictured is an example of the rating criteria found in a 100 point cigar rating system.
In many cases you will find that a small write-up explaining personal experiences from individuals or consumers who are reviewing the cigar is also included.
Pay attention to any discussions about core or main flavors versus the more subtle sensations or notes. The core notes of a cigar are those remaining steady throughout the smoking, whereas the subtle notes tend to be those that come and go. You may not agree with the reviews and you may detect other flavors than what the reviewer listed. Ultimately, your experience is about your palate and your preferences.
Most premium hand-rolled cigars are rated using a 100-point system, while other reviewers will use 4 or 5 stars. In both cases, the higher the number or the more stars, respectively, the higher the rating.