Cigar Flavor: Does Its Size Matter?


The finest premium cigars of the world are manufactured in various vitolas, a cigar factory term for the shape of a cigar, which also includes its size generally measured in length x ring gauge. The length is measured in inches; the ring gauge (the width or diameter, the thickness, if you will) is measured in 64ths of an inch. One ring is equivalent to 1/64 of an inch. Therefore, a cigar measuring 6 x 42 is 6 inches in length with a thickness or width of 42/64ths of an inch. Generally speaking:

  • Large ring gauge: ≥47

  • Medium ring gauge: 40-46

  • Small ring gauge: <39

So does the vitola affect the taste of a particular cigar brand? Absolutely...

In general, the larger the cigar the more full-flavored it is, and the less harsh and hot-burning it is. Larger ring-gauged cigars tend to draw more slowly and yield a larger volume of smoke, compared with a smaller, thinner cigar. Larger cigars contain more fillers, and a potential for a broader range of flavors. A manufacturer may excel at a particular size, but that same brand in other sizes may not be as good or as consistent. The larger a ring gauge, the more a cigar maker can blend and combine different types of leaves. In addition, the same cigar blends in different sizes tastes different because of the different vitolas. At times, the difference may be vast. Ultimately, you must choose the size of the cigar that is most comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to you.

Enter any cigar shop and the size of every cigar for sale is generally prominently displayed. But if you need help determining the approximate ring gauge of a particular cigar, the coins in your pocket may provide some assistance (this applies to United States currency).

Length influences taste to a lesser extent. Longer cigars will tend to smoke a bit cooler. However, smoking a cigar in the same manner as a cigarette smoker (taking more frequent and faster puffs) will result in a cigar smoking hotter, no matter the length - which will ultimately alter the taste as well. Smoking a cigar is not a rushed event - if you take your time to draw slowly and allow it to rest for at least a minute between puffs, no matter the length it will smoke cooler and provide much better flavor...so slow down and savor it!

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