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There is no shortage to the shapes and sizes in which cigars are made. This combination of size and shape is referred to as a cigar’s vitola. Newer smokers can be surprised how much this affects the smoking experience, from Nubs to Churchills. Allow Best Cigar Prices to help you understand what vitola names like these mean in terms of shape, length, and gauge.
Cigar vitolas are generally divided into two categories: parejo (straight) and figurado (irregularly shaped).
Straight, parejo cigar shapes are easily the most common. They have a simple, cylindrical shape, with more than a dozen types of variants. Some notable parejo vitolas include Churchills, Rothschilds, and Lonsdales, but let’s take a closer look at popular parejos.
Considered the ideal tasting size for cigar reviewers, Robusto cigars are usually 5 to 5 1/2 inches long and have a 50 ring gauge.
The Toro has the same 50 ring gauge as the Robusto, but it has slightly more length to it. Toro cigars are traditionally around 6 inches long.
Churchill cigars are named after one of England’s most notable Prime Ministers: Winston Churchill, who was rarely seen without his trademark stogie. A traditional Churchill is slightly thinner than Robustos and Toros, with a 48 ring gauge. However, it makes up for it by measuring a whopping 7 inches in length.
The Corona vitola is considered by many, especially older aficionados, to be the standard parejo above the Robusto. Typical dimensions for a Corona cigar are 5 1/2 to 6 inches in length with a ring gauge of 42 to 44. You can also go smaller with a Petit Corona (4 1/2 inches long with a 40 to 42 ring gauge) or larger with a Double Corona (7 1/2 to 8 inches long with a 49 to 52 ring gauge).
The Panetela can best be described as a long and slinky version of the Corona. Pantelas was very popular in the 1990s, with sizes ranging from 5 to 7 1/2 inches in length and modest diameters clocking in with a ring gauge of 34 to 38.
The Lonsdale was named after the famous cigar smoker Hugh Cecil Lowther, fifth Earl of Lonsdale. This vitola is thicker than the Panetela and longer than the Corona. You can expect a Lonsdale to be roughly 6 3/4 inches long with a ring gauge of 42 to 44.
The term “figurado” can refer to any shape other than the classic parejo. Over the years, manufacturers have shown off new and interesting shapes, further subdivided figurados into more specialized names. Let’s review the ones that you’re most likely to run into at a cigar shop.
Pyramid is the name given to a cigar that is thickest at its foot. As their name implies, Pyramid cigars gradually and uniformly taper towards the head, creating a cone or pyramid-like shape.
A Belicoso is a cigar that tapers sharply at the head. Unlike a Pyramid, Belicosos do not start to taper until very close to the head. In the past, Belicoso cigars used to be a genuine short Pyramid, tapered from foot to head. Recently, they have adopted a shape more similar to a Corona, with a length of 5 to 5 1/2 inches and a ring gauge of 50 or less.
A Torpedo also has a gradually tapered head that comes to a sharp point. The differences between a Belicoso and a Torpedo can be hard to spot, but it’s agreed that the Torpedo tapers much more gradually than the Belicoso, giving it a sharper look. However, in both of these vitolas the tapered end concentrates the flavors of the cigar into a small opening, creating a more robust smoke. The tapered head also gives the smoker the unique ability to choose how big he or she wants the opening to be.
A cigar that is tapered at both the head and the foot with a slight bulge in the middle is called a Perfecto. Some styles of Perfectos have a nipple-like foot, while others have a more uniform and gently tapered foot. Still other Perfectos are tapered toward the foot and then abruptly trim straight. Regardless of the style, a Perfecto will start out with a firm draw, gradually opening up as the tapered foot burns.
Diademas & Salomones
Diademas and Salomones are essentially larger versions of the Perfecto, tapered at both ends. However, these cigars can be 8 inches or more in length, with a closed head (ring gauge around 40) and a foot that can be open or closed (52 ring gauge or more).
Yes, technically speaking anything outside of the traditional, cylindrical shape of parejos is a figurado vitola. Still, at a certain point the shape of a cigar becomes as much of a selling point as the contents of the cigar, if not more so! These are best referred to as novelty cigar shapes, which are more or less expert cigar rollers showing off their skills. Here are a few examples:
The Egg by Drew Estate is basically a caricature of a Perfecto. The name is obviously derived from the bulge in the middle taking on the dimensions of an egg.
Though somewhat rare, the Culebra is one of the most interesting vitolas you can find. It consists of three Panetelas braided together to create one uniform cigar. However, it isn’t smoked as one; you unbraid it first (perfect for sharing with your two closest cigar-smoking friends). Culebras are usually 5 to 6 inches long with a 38 ring gauge.
Nub cigars are extra short, stubby stogies that attempt to capture the “sweet spot” of a normal sized cigar (the very middle area). Many smokers love these tasty little treasures, but others consider the concept to little more than a marketing gimmick.
Fuente Factory Special Cigars
One of the best-known creators of novelty cigars is the Fuente factory. They produce cigars shaped like footballs, baseball bats, and other distinct vitolas. They even have some with puffy heads that look like the plumes of rare birds. This is where cigar rolling starts to blur the lines with true art, and they are usually reserved for charity auctions.
As you try different cigars, don’t shy away from different sizes, shapes, brands, and types of tobacco to discover which you truly like the best. Most importantly, have fun and always trust your own taste.