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Cigar 101: Does Size Matter?

If there’s one facet of cigar smoking that smokers can rarely agree on, it’s what size best fits the cigar you’re smoking. There are preferences based on time consumption and comfort factor, but does the size of your smoke affect the taste?

It all comes down to the draw—if your cigar is underfilled, the cigar might not produce enough smoke, or worse yet, the smoke may pass through too easily and taste hot and bitter. If

Cigars come in all shapes and sizes. What's your favorite?

the cigar is too tightly packed, you’ll have trouble getting any smoke through it at all, if you can even get it to stay lit. This is especially important when it comes to big ring gauges, which not every manufacturer has mastered.

Cigars with bigger ring gauges are typically harder to roll than narrower ones, except when it comes to longer, narrower smokes like the Lancero. Some blenders insist that Corona sized smokes offer the perfect ratio of wrapper to filler, allowing the smoker to experience the cigar as it was meant to be smoked.

Dion Giolito of Illusione Cigars said in a 2008 interview with The Stogie Guys that Lonsdales and Coronas are the best vehicle for flavor. He also suggested that the F9, which weighs in at 6 ¼ by 44 ring gauge, would be the best size to introduce a new smoker to the Illusione brand.

I’d have to personally agree with Dion Giolito on this one—cigars in the Corona neighborhood are a pretty surefire way to experience a cigar the right way. I’ve gotten way more inconsistent burns from bigger cigars, especially those with 50+ ring gauges, and it’s well known that if a cigar isn’t lit correctly, the taste can be affected. Given that wider cigars are harder to light, they’ll often give you a skewed perspective on the blend via the crooked burn.

However, there’s also the argument that you can fit more different types of filler in a bigger cigar. If you can get a good burn on a cigar with a 60 ring gauge, the flavor profiles can become a lot more lucid due to the increased volume of smoke.

In the end it all comes down to what size cigar you prefer; some tend to think that smaller, narrower vitolas leave something to be desired, and some avoid larger ones to avoid being overpowered by a harsh taste or unpleasant nicotine buzz. And as for the time factor, every size has its purpose; sometimes I want to sit around for hours puffing on a good stogie, but in reality a free two and a half hours is hard to come by. If you like a good cigar, though, it’s generally a good idea to try a few different vitolas to get an idea of what the manufacturer wanted the smoke to taste like.