Most cigars look exactly the same to the untrained eye.
There's a great deal of variation in cigars, though, and it will help to understand a little bit about cigar sizes if you want to start developing your palette. It can be difficult to get a grasp on everything because many cigars are imported, using different sizing standards in their respective countries.
There are a few basic rules that you can follow, however, and we've compiled a guide to help you understand them.
A Guide to Cigar Sizes and Shapes
The primary distinction to make among cigars is the difference between a Figurado and a Parejo. The most important thing to have is a firm grasp on Parejos, because everything that isn't one is considered a Figurado.
"Parejo" means something like "straight" in Spanish, and is a good description of the cigar. Parejos are rolled straight with one end being closed off and the other open. The end that is closed off, or capped, is referred to as the "head" of the cigar, while the open end is called the "foot."
There is one form of Parejo, called the Culebra, that is a little abnormal. It looks almost like braided hair or rope, with three different tubes winding together to form a straight cigar. The Culebra can be smoked together as one large cigar or divided into three individual, oddly crooked, cigars.
Any cigar that isn’t a Parejo shape is considered a Figurado. The general characteristic of a Figurado is the presence of a pointed end, although some Figurados, such as the renowned Arturo Fuente Hemingway, have a rounded head. Most have an open end, just like the Parejo, and a pointed tip that isn't capped just rolled to a point. There is one Figurado, called the Perfecto, which is rolled to a point at both ends.
The sizing of cigars can be measured in either inches or millimeters, but for our purposes, we will only use inches in this article. Keep in mind that because there are no industry standards regarding the exact dimensions of the names manufacturers use to describe cigars, lengths can vary by up to ¼” or so in either direction, and diameters can vary as well, depending on the manufacturer.
The following are some of the most popular sizes:
The smallest cigar is known as the Gordito, which means "little fatty" in Spanish. These cigars are around 4.5 inches.
The Robusto, also known as the Rothschild, is the next smallest and comes in at around 5 inches.
The Corona is the next up and is roughly 5 and a quarter inches. The Toro and the Gordocome next at 6 inches, and the Lonsdale follows at 6 and a half inches.
Moving forward we have the Churchill which comes in at 7 inches, and the Lancero following at 7 and a half. The double Corona is the second-largest, measuring the same length of the Lancero, but having a much wider fill. The largest category of the cigar is called the Gran Corona, also known as the Presidente, and is roughly 9 and a quarter inches.
These lengths can be found in Parejo cigars and Figurados, with the length-names only describing the outward length and width, but nothing else about the cigar.
The width, or diameter, of the cigar is called the ring gauge, and is measured in 64 ths of an inch. Thus, a 50 ring gauge means the cigar is 50/64” in diameter, and so on. Cigar diameters can range from 32 RG up to 70RG and even beyond, although those with a ring gauge of 32 and below are generally considered to be cigarellos.
Become an Aficionado
Cigar sizes are only the beginning of your path to understanding cigars. There's a lot to learn when it comes to cigars and their various forms, as differences in sizes and shapes can mean a difference in how flavors, body, and strength are delivered and perceived.
If you're interested in getting involved in cigars and cigar culture, we have all the information that you need.
Writing about sizing is kind of hard without getting into a long detailed look because of the numerous sizes and designations. Also difficult because some makers give names to sizes that don’t fit the norm. I’ve always thought of the Rothschild as a shorter and somewhat distinct version of the Robusto; like 4.5”, as opposed to the normal 5”. I also consider the Petite Corona to be smaller than the Gordito, since they run from 4-5” and are narrower. Not that it matters all that much, since they don’t seem to be that popular. I like them, though, especially in winter. Yes, we do have real winters here, lol. Jeff