When you walk into a humidor at the local cigar shop you will encounter not only a wide variety of brands but also several shapes in each line. At first glance some shapes are much bigger than others and some are so close that you may wonder why they even bother making both. I often hear people who come into my shop ask, “Why would anyone smoke that thing?”
Two tenants about cigars to remember are (1) the bigger around the cigar, the cooler it smokes and (2) the longer the cigar, the cleaner it tastes. When more surface area is burning (i.e.. bigger around) then cigar smokers do not puff as hard and the result is lower temperature. This is the reason that you will see 50+ ring gauge cigars in almost every line produced. Tobacco will actually act as its own filter thus a longer cigar will taste cleaner than a short one. That is why a 50+ ring gauge cigar may also be 9 inches long!
The size of a cigar is all centered around the ring gauge or the diameter of the cigar. A ring gauge is one of the few recognized industry standards that can help you find the size of which you are most comfortable. The length of the cigar is described in either inches or centimeters depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside.
Names of shapes are not nearly as simple to define to new cigar enthusiasts! No industry standards exist as to universal definitions of shapes such as robusto or churchill. Basically there are two kinds of cigar shapes: standard and figurado. Standards are regular variations of shapes that are straight and symmetrical. Figurados are shaped, meaning some form of tapering or unusual form such as a celubra, torpedo, or perfecto. For more information on shapes visit The Cigar Glossary link box area.
Most importantly you should select a size and shape with which you feel comfortable. Just because a 56 ring gauge toro may smoke cooler than a 30 ring gauge panatela, does not mean that the distraction of puffing on a log will not detract as much from the smoke! Try different shapes and sizes and find what you enjoy the most. Chances are that any brand will have a shape you enjoy. By the way, a ‘torbusto’ is a new shape from H Upmann that is an unholy union of a robusto, toro, and pyramid! Try it if you dare!