Thursday 19 February 2009

About Cigar Shapes

Getting Into Cigar Shapes

Walk into any well-stocked humidor—well, even one that's not that well-stocked—and you'll see lots of variety in how cigars are shaped and sized. Long, short, skinny, fat. Spend enough time in that humidor, pick up enough cigars to get a sense of how they feel, how they fit in your hand, and you'll soon find the cigars that suit you best.

None of this can happen when cigar shopping online, of course, but we can do the next-best thing—we can take you on a virtual tour of our (well-stocked) humidor and walk you through the shapes and sizes that you'll find within.

To begin at the beginning…
Cigars are made in two basic styles—straight-sided, meaning that they have the same basic size from head to foot—and shaped, which don't have the same basic size from head to foot. Straight-sided cigars, or parejos, are the classic cylinder shape that the majority of cigars are made in and are what you'll see the most of in any humidor.

Parejos are further identified by specific names, such as corona, lonsdale, Churchill, and so on. These names suggest their length and circumference, but (and here things can get a little confusing), while there's some standardization of these measurements in the industry, it isn't 100 percent. The Ashton 8-9-8, for example, falls into the lonsdale category diameter-wise but is a little shorter than a classic lonsdale. And, not all manufacturers use standard names for their cigars—the Churchill-sized cigar in the Opus X line, for example, goes by the moniker Reserva D'Chateau.

What is standard among all manufacturers is how cigars are measured. Length is expressed in inches (or centimeters, if you're in a metric country). Diameter, or "ring gauge," is expressed in 64ths of an inch (or millimeters). As an example, a cigar with a ring gauge of 50 would be 50/64ths of an inch around.

Bottom line, it's best not to get too hung up on specifics here, but knowing something about the basic cigar sizes and shapes can go a long way toward making you an old hand around the humidor—someone who can pick up that Opus X Reserva D'Chateau and know that you're holding a classic Churchill—length 7 inches, ring 45.

Parejos come in three basic groups:

Long and Skinny—Also known as panatelas and lonsdales, these guys are the Yao Mings of the cigar world. Panatelas are the longest and thinnest, typically measuring in at 5 to 7 ½ inches with ring gauges from 34 to 38. Lonsdales are thicker and a little shorter, typically 6 ¾ inches with a 42 to 44 ring gauge.

Not-So-Skinny—These are coronas, the benchmark against which all other cigars are measured, measurement-wise. There's lots of variation in the corona world, from petit coronas at a little over 4 inches and a 40 to 42 ring gauge to corona gordas (5 5/8 inches by 46) and Churchills (7 inches by 48).

Big and Stout—This category contains some newer sizes and some of today's reigning favorites, such as robustos (5 to 5 ½ inches, 50 ring), toros (6 to 6/12 inches, 48 to 50 ring), and double coronas (7 ½ to 8 inches, 49 to 52 ring) and presidentes (7 to 8 ½ inches, 52 to 60 ring).

Shaped cigars, or figurados, also come in various lengths and diameters. Most common are:

Pyramid—These cigars have a pointed, closed head and gradually widen in diameter. The ACID Nasty is the classic pyramid reinterpreted. No subtle change in diameter width here; the short little Nasty (4 inches, 52 ring at the foot) starts with a skinny head and flares out quickly from there. Think Egypt. Think the Luxor Casino in Vegas.

Torpedo—These cigars have pointed, cone-shaped heads, big, bulgy middles and tapered, closed feet that are typically finished flat but not always. They look a little bit like something a novice cigar roller would make, to be honest, but there's nothing inexperienced about them. They can range from fairly small to giant-sized at 8 inches and longer. When they get this big they're called diademas.

Perfecto—These resemble torpedos but they often have a more pronounced bulge in the middle. They typically have more tapered or rounder feet than torpedos do as well. The Hemingway Short Story, a favorite of many cigar smokers, is a short perfecto.

Belicoso—These cigars start with a tapered head and then immediately flare outwards to what on humans would be shoulders. From here they can be straight-sided or they can taper outward gradually like pyramids do.

Culebras—Culebra is the Spanish word for snake and these speciality cigars definitely look like some tiny slitherers wrapped around each other, but they're actually three panatelas twisted together. You don't smoke them together, though…well, you could, but it would be a bit of a mess, not to mention enough smoke to knock you way back on your heels, if not off them. Instead, you remove the band, or bands, holding them together, split them up, maybe with two of your best buddies, and go. three small cigars twisted together and smoked separately. You remove the band, or bands, split them up, and go.

Provided by Cigars Direct

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