Cigars are traditionally measured in length – which is simply in inches – and by diameter. The diameter is measured as a ‘ring gauge’ in 64ths of an inch.
What is a Standard Sized Cigar?
As we are about to see, the world of cigar sizes – and bear in mind shapes will play a part here – is one that has its roots in tradition. The answer to the above question is that while there is no strict ‘standard’ size of cigar, there is one that is used as a benchmark of sorts in the industry: The Corona.
Before we get into the details of the Corona and why it is considered so, let’s answer an often-asked question: does the size of a cigar influence its strength? The answer is no, but there is much more to it than simple size. It is the tobacco that is rolled that determines the strength and flavour, with the size playing a smaller part.
Consider this: a cigar that measures 7 inches long yet is made with mild tobacco will naturally be milder than a similar one rolled with stronger tobacco. The thinner the cigar, the hotter it will burn. Many smokers prefer a shorter, fatter cigar with stronger tobacco as it will be ‘full bodied’; others prefer a long, slim cigar for a less powerful result. This is why cigar size and type are important, and why you need to try different types to find the one you prefer.
Back to the Corona, and why it’s considered the benchmark.
The Corona Cigar
First, to clear up an area of confusion, Corona is not a brand name. Corona cigars are made by many cigar-makers, and you’ll find each brand has its own taste. The Corona is a cigar that you will recognise. It is every bit a ‘standard’ cigar if there can be such a thing. Traditionally, a Corona measures between 5 ½ to 6 inches in length. Also, it will have a ring gauge of between 42 and 44.
The ring gauge is what causes confusion. To repeat what we mentioned in the opening sentence, ring gauge is the diameter of the cigar. It is measured in 64ths of an inch. So, if the case of a 42 size Corona, it has a diameter of 42/64ths of an inch. It might seem archaic – we prefer ‘traditional – but that’s the measurement system that has been used throughout, and there is no reason to change. You will get used to the sizing as you become more experienced – and will also settle upon your own preferred size and type – so to give you an idea of the variations available, here are a few more traditional cigar sizes.
Robusto – this short, stubby cigar can be 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ inches in length and has a diameter of 48 to 52 ring gauge. It’s one of the most popular sizes of cigar in the USA.
Panatela – once the cigar smoker’s favourite, the Panatela is slim cigar – between 5 and 7 ½ inches – and with a ring gauge of 34 to 38, so much thinner than the above.
Churchill – a larger Corona with a diameter of 47 and 7 inches in length, it takes its name from the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was rarely seen without a cigar.
Perfecto – measuring as long as 9 inches – which can be difficult to handle – the Perfecto is one of many cigars that has a bulge in the centre and is usually sized 38 to 49 ring gauge.
These are just a few of the many different sizes of cigar that are popularly smoked today, and you may want to investigate more as there are many to try.
Before we go, here are a few questions that we found to be popular among people asking how cigars are measured, so let’s see if we can answer them!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Do I Choose the Right Size of Cigar?
This is entirely personal choice, and we would suggest you look at the strength of the tobacco before the size. Also, one brand’s Panatela will taste different to another. It’s all about the taste, and that’s about the tobacco! Try a few, and you’ll soon find a cigar that you truly appreciate.
What are the Good Brands?
This is an area of cigar smoking that is very interesting, and one that – were we to devote time to – would be a history lesson of sorts. Look for brands that others in your smoking circle stand by, and don’t get into ‘brand snobbery’. There are plenty of good cigars that are surprisingly affordable, and if you want the top brands look to Cohiba, Montecristo and Cuaba, each of which is a regarded and established brand.
What is the ‘Wrapper’ and What Does it Mean?
There is some confusion about the wrapper of a cigar: it is the outermost leaf of tobacco that is visible to all. For this reason, it is sometimes regarded as an indicator of quality – and indeed it can be so. We wouldn’t take as a definite that the colour of the wrapper is a quality guide – we’ll cover colours in a minute – but we would suggest you look for certain qualities in the wrapper itself. Look for a wrapper with a smooth finish, and visible oils. There should be as few veins as possible. Walk away from wrappers that are cracked or blemished as this can signify cigars that have been badly stored.
As for the wrapper colours, here’s a run through of the standard ones:
Double Claro or Candela – a green wrapper whereby the chlorophyll has been locked in thanks to a fast-drying process. This wrapper is largely associated with the USA.
Claro – a light-tan wrapper that is the result of growth in the shade and early picking, this – and the above – is a wrapper favoured by the smoker who wants to savour the tobacco within as these both have little to add flavour wise.
Colorado Claro – this is a typical mid-tan coloured wrapper, also known as English Market Selection, as it was historically the choice for the UK. The leaf is picked when mature and at a natural stage and adds a touch if not much to the flavour.
Colorado – among the most popular with a wide variety of cigar smokers, the Colorado is also shade-grown but is left longer to mature, and this rich brown wrapper adds an aromatic flavour to the cigar.
Colorado Maduro – this ‘in-between’ wrapper is darker than a Colorado but not as dark as the next on the scale, the Maduro, with a stronger flavour than that above and a lovely dark brown hue.
Maduro – varying in colour from deep red to almost black, the Maduro wrapper undergoes a maturing process and is either fermented or toasted in one of various ways. The result is a strong yet sweet flavour that many experienced smokers prefer.
Oscuro – the totally black wrapper will be found on Mexican or Brazilian cigars, and these leaves have been left on the plant for as long as possible, and also fermented for a great length of time. The flavour of Oscuro wrappers is unique if not favoured by all, and these tend to be very special enthusiasts’ cigars.
Let’s leave it there for now, and we invite you to check out our other articles on all things to do with cigars, accessories and more. Meanwhile, enjoy the journey towards finding your perfect cigar, as it is one you will certainly savour.