Cuban Cigar Sizes: A Large Ring Gauge or Small?
Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009 Cigar
In 1984, Al Pacino burst on the scene in Scarface, playing Cuban refugee Tony Montana. As his character rose up the ranks in the Neon gangster world, his Cuban Cigars expanded in size. Since the millennial, a slow increase for larger cigars has crept across the industry – enthusiasts now considering a 50 ring gauge as small. Cuba has been left with no choice but to adapt. Is the fashion for grand cigars however, really worth following?
KEY SIZE DIFFERENCES – Around thirty years ago, a long and thin cigar was Vogue. A Panetela vitola perhaps, comprising an 115mm length by a 26 ring gauge. This is now a good recommendation for a beginner cigar smoker. With the amount of cigar sizes and shapes, figuring out the perfect vitola is hard to grasp. Talking to Cuban Cigar expert Adam Lajca at Corinthia Hotel London, he mentioned this clear distinction – “thinner ring gauges – the cigar is going to smoke hotter. With the heavy ring gauges, the cigar is going to smoke a little bit cooler”. Adam additionally noted that long cigars with a smaller ring gauge, might have a tighter draw. Some argue that thinner ring gauges provide better flavour as they contain less filler.
Top Left: Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 Cigar, Top Right: H. Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva Cosecha 2011 Cigar, Bottom: La Flor de Cano Casanova Cigar (Ex Italia 2016)
"large ring gauge demand"
THE SHIFT IN PREFERENCE – According to Cigar Aficionado, sales of cigars with a ring gauge of 50 or more, equates to over half of Habanos S.A’s sales. The company has adapted to the large ring gauge demand, by crafting cigars with 56 and even 58 ring gauges. Take for example, the Cohiba Behike 56 Cigar. One of the most luxurious from the brand, the habano has a unique Laguito no. 6 vitola, making a Churchills 47 and Robusto’s 50 seem small. Society’s idea that ‘bigger is better’, has played a role in younger cigar smokers wanting to be captured with large cigars. Manufactures have shifted their attention away from smaller habanos and with each year, less are being crafted. Although this shift is not loved by all, as many Cuban Cigar experts still prefer a thinner vitola. 2018 World Habanosommelier Darius Namdar, favours a Por Larranaga Montecarlo Cigar – 159mm in length by a 33 ring gauge.
Top Left: Hoyo de Monterrey Palmas Extra Cigar, Top Right: Fonseca KDT Cadetes Cigar, Bottom: Cohiba Behike 56 Cigar
"always consider time"
FINDING YOUR PERFECT SIZE – We always suggest for beginner smokers to start small. Then, gradually experiment with different brands and their vitolas. Bolivar Cigars for instance, are dissimilar to Romeo y Julieta. Fonseca KDT Cadetes Cigar contains a length of 115mm by 36, and has a light, smooth aroma. This is ideal for someone new. Likewise, a Hoyo de Monterrey Palmas Extra Cigar with a ring gauge of 40, is a great rookie choice. For those who consider themselves a connoisseur, Reservas such as a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 Cigar may be preferred. The important factor is preference. There is no such thing as a ‘better’ vitola. We suggest you speak to different cigar sommeliers at various lounges, to try to differ your selections until you find one which feels like a match. And to reiterate, always consider time. No one enjoys a habano in a rush.
Looking for tips on choosing cigars and improving your technique? Read our posts: How to Become a Cuban Cigars Expert and Cigar Smoking: The Ultimate Dos and Don’ts to brush up on your knowledge. And be sure to keep experimenting and enjoying our wide range of Cuban Cigars online.