Cigar Shapes

You will find cigars of every shape and every size for every occasion. There is a wide variety to choose from, including tiny, cigarette-like cigarillos to giant monsters resembling pool cues!

There are certain sizes and shapes for cigars which have gained popularity over the years and have become well recognized, even by non-smokers.

Although the cigar lexicon can be confusing, particularly to the novice, there are certain basic criteria that can be used as guidelines to decipher the origin of almost any hand-rolled cigar. The parameters are fairly simple: brand, color and size or shape.

Cigar Brand

The brand is the designation the manufacturer gives to a particular line of cigars. You'll find the brand name on the cigar band, which is generally wrapped around the "head," or the closed end, of the cigar.

However, depending on which country you're in, even those well-known names can be a source of confusion. Some brands were first produced in Cuba. After Castro's Revolution in 1959, many cigar manufacturers fled and believed they could take their brands with them. The Cubans argued that the brands belonged to the country. So today, you have a Punch made in Cuba and one made in Honduras. You can usually determine which is which by a small Habano or Havana inscribed on the band.

Cigar Wrapper Color

The color refers to the shade of the outer wrapper leaf. In the past, manufacturers used dozens of terms for the wrapper leaves which were grown in Cuba, Sumatra, Brazil and the United States; US cigar makers often describe eight to ten different shades.

Today, there are six major color grades in use. And wrapper is grown today not only in the countries mentioned above, but Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Cameroon as well. Here are the six basic shades:

Double Claro "DC"

Also known as the "American Market Selection" (AMS) or "Candela," this is a green wrapper, and is rarely found today.

Claro "CI"

This wrapper has a very light tan color, almost beige, and is usually from Connecticut.

Colorado Claro "CC"

This wrapper is medium brown, and found on many cigars. The most popular are "Natural" or the "English Market Selection" (EMS). This shade of wrapper is grown in many different countries.

Colorado "Co"

This shade is greatly recognizable by the obvious reddish tint color.

Colorado Maduro "CM"

This wrapper is darker than the Colorado Claro in shade, and is often associated with African tobacco, like wrappers from Cameroon, or Havana Seed tobacco.

Maduro "Ma"

Maduro is very dark brown or even black. This category also includes the deep black "Oscuro" shade. The Maduro wrappers are grown in Connecticut, Mexico, Nicaragua, and also Brazil.

Cigar Size and Shape

Most cigars come in boxes with a front mark that tells you the shape of the cigar. As you come to know shapes, you also can make some assumptions about size, such as knowing that a double corona is not a short cigar.

Cigar Size

The basic measurement standard, however, is the same; the only variations are whether it is expressed in metric or U.S. customary systems. Length, therefore, is listed in inches or centimeters; and girth or diameter, or ring gauge as it is commonly known, is in 64ths of an inch or millimeters. So, a classic corona size is 6 by 42, which means it is six inches long and 42/64ths of an inch thick, but many manufacturers today produce their coronas with a 44 ring gauge, as opposed to a 42. Simply put, ring size is measured in 64ths of an inch. Thus, a 48 ring cigar will measure 3/4 inch in diameter.

Cigar Shapes

If you're searching for common denominators to use as a starting point for shape, it helps to know that all cigars can be divided into two categories: parejos, or straight sides, and figurados, the irregular shapes.

Simply, parejos are straight-sided cigars, the kind with which most smokers are familiar. There are three basic groups in this category: coronas, panetelas and lonsdales.

A corona (the classic size is 6 inches by 42 ring gauge) has traditionally been the manufacturers' benchmark against which all other cigars are measured. Coronas have an open "foot" (the end you light) and a closed "head" (the end you smoke); the head is most often rounded. A Churchill measures 7 inches by 47 ring gauge. A robusto is 5 inches by 50 ring gauge. A double corona is 7 1/2 inches by 49 ring gauge. Panetelas (a standard size is usually 7 inches by 38 ring gauge) are usually longer than coronas, but they are dramatically thinner. They also have an open foot and closed head.

Lonsdales (6 3/4 inches by 42 ring gauge) are thicker than panetelas, but slimmer and longer than coronas. The irregular shapes, or figurados, encompass every out-of-the ordinary shaped cigar. The following list comprises the major types:

Pyramid - It has a pointed, closed head and widens to an open foot.

Belicoso - A small pyramid-shaped cigar with a rounded head rather than a point.

Torpedo - A shape with a pointed head, a closed foot and a bulge in the middle.

Perfecto - These look like the cigar in cartoons with two closed rounded ends and a bulge in the middle.

Culebras - Three panetelas braided together.

Diademas - A giant cigar 8 inches or longer. Most often it has an open foot, but occasionally it will come with a perfecto tip, or closed foot.

Remember, even with these "classic" irregular shapes, there are variations among manufacturers. Some cigars called belicosos look like pyramids, and some called torpedos look like pyramids because they do not have a perfecto tip.

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