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Cigar FAQ's

We hope you will find these Cigar Tip & Topics useful, because our goal is to improve the total cigar smoking experience for each of our clients. If you have a questions, please feel free to email us here .

Cigar Glossary  

Ring Gauge Guide

Cigar Shades
Cigar Classification  

 

 

Cigar Tips

 

Cigar Glossary

Ring Guage Guide

 

32 - 34   Slim and Small Panatelas
35 - 39   Panatelas and Long Panatelas
40 - 44   Coronas and Lonsdales
45 - 47   Coronas Extra and Grand Coronas
48 - 50   Giants

 

ring sizes

Cigar Shades

 

Double Claro   Light green, candela (Also known as "American Market Selection)
Candela   green/light green, A Very young leaf.
Claro   (CL) Light tan (This wrapper usually comes from Connecticut.
Colorado Claro or Natural   Light brown to brown. (Also called EMS English Market Selection)
Colorado / Colorado Maduro   Brown to reddish brown
Maduro   (MAD) Dark brown aged.
Oscuro   Very dark or black Maduro.

 

Cigar Classification

 



(from The Gourmet guide to Cigars by Paul Garmirian)
Shape Classical
Length. x Ring
Length Range Ring Range
Giant 9 x 52 8 & up 50 & up
Double Corona 73/4 x 49 63/4 - 73/4 49 - 54
Churchill 7 x 47 63/4 - 77/8 46 - 48
Perfecto none all all
Pyramid 7 x 36 => 54 all flared
Torpedo 61/2 x 52 all tapered
Toro 6 x 50 55/8 - 65/8 48 - 54
Robusto 5 x 50 41/2 - 51/2 48 - 54
Grand Corona 61/2 x 46 55/8 - 65/8 45 - 47
Corona Extra 51/2 x 46 41/2 - 51/2 45 - 47
Giant Corona 71/2 x 44 71/2 & up 42 - 45
Lonsdale 61/2 x 42 61/2 - 71/4 40 - 44
Long Corona 6 x 42 57/8 - 63/8 40 - 44
Corona 51/2 x 42 51/4 - 53/4 40 - 44
Petit Corona 5 x 42 4 - 5 40 - 44
Long Panatela 71/2 x 38 7 & up 35 - 39
Panatela 6 x 38 51/2 - 67/8 35 - 39
Short Panatela 5 x 38 4 - 53/8 35 - 39
Slim Panatale 6 x 34 5 & up 30 - 34
Small Panatela 5 x 33 4 - 5 30 - 34
Cigarillos 4 x 26 6 & less 29 & less
Cigars

I am new to cigars, where can I learn more about cigars in general?

We recommend a subscription to Cigar Aficionado to get a more sophisticated look at the cigar culture and lifestyle.

What is the best cigar book?

The best reference guide is Perelman’s Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars, updated every year.

What is the proper way to light a cigar?

You can use several different methods of fire to light it, but whatever you use, light the cigar gently, evenly and slowly.

  • Hold the cigar horizontally.
  • "Warm" the cigar by holding the flame underneath the end in direct contact with the cigar. The hottest part of the flame is the white tip, so be careful not to ignite the wrapper.
  • Slowly rotate the cigar until the end is evenly charred over the entire surface.
  • Next, put the cigar in your mouth and hold the flame just close enough to the end without letting the flame touch it (about an 1/2"). Draw on the cigar slowly while rotating it until it is EVENLY lit. Drawing too fast will oxidize the tobacco making it taste bitter.
  • Gently blow on the glowing end to make sure it's burning evenly and you're done!

This entire process can take up to a minute, but the cigar will taste the way it's supposed to taste and will help prevent an uneven burn. Remember, it's better to take your time in the beginning so that you can enjoy your cigar longer.

How can you tell if a cigar is fresh?

Cigar wrappers that have a rich, oily sheen show that the cigar has been properly humidified and the leaf is very high quality. But even dull-looking wrappers can be of good quality. One great way to tell if a cigar is really fresh or not is by giving it "the pinch test." Very lightly pinch the cigar between your thumb and forefinger. It should feel firm with a little spring to it, not hard. If it feels like a piece of dead wood or if it's particularly soft and spongy in spots, it is not fresh.

How does long filler differ from short filler?

Long filler means that the leaves are complete, not chopped up. A premium cigar may contain two, three or even four leaves of filler tobacco that are bunched together within a single binder leaf; the wrapper is the rolled on over the binder. The vast majority of machine-made cigars use short filler tobacco, which consists of chopped scraps of leaf. Short filler burns quicker and hotter than long filler.

What are those little tan spots I sometimes see on the cigar wrapper?

Don't be alarmed. Also referred to as sunspots. No one really knows for sure what causes them. It is generally believed moisture droplets that have marred the leaf after drying cause them, but they will not affect the taste of the cigar.

Why do some people smoke their cigars for a few minutes before removing the band?

Bands are attached with adhesive. If too much has been used, some may have seeped from the band onto the cigar's wrapper. If this has happened, the band, when removed, may take some of the wrapper with it. Smoking the cigar for a few minutes first will soften the glue and loosen its hold on the wrapper, thus allowing you to slowly remove the band without tearing the outer leaf.

Why do most cigar boxes have a block of wood in them?

That block of wood is Spanish cedar and is used primarily as a spacer to keep the cigar rows even. But it’s also used to help keep the cigars fresh and maintain the cedar fragrance acquired during aging. The next time you finish a box of cigars, keep the little block of cedar wood and put it in your humidor. It will help your cigars age and keep your box smelling fresh. You can even refresh the aroma in the block by giving it a light sanding every now and then.

What are the "classic" cigar styles by length and ring gauge?

  • Churchill - 7" x 50
  • Double Corona - 6 ¾" x 49
  • Londsdale - 6 ½" x 44
  • Panatela - 6 ½" x 34
  • Toro - 6" x 50
  • Corona - 5 ½" x 42
  • Robusto - 5" x 50
  • Petite Corona - 5" x 38
  • Rothschild - 4 ½" x 48

What is the difference between "hand made" and "hand rolled" premium?

Premiums that are machine-bunched are only rolled by hand, hence the term, "hand rolled", whereas "handmade" cigars are made entirely by hand.

Humidors

When I place cigars in my humidor, should I leave the wrapper on or take it off?

Some experts say to leave the cellophane wrapper on because it protects the cigar from bumps and bruises. Others say that removing the cellophane allows the tobacco to age more readily and co-mingle with the other aromas of the cigars and wood from your humidor. If you keep most of the same type of cigars in your humidor, removing the cellophane will allow the tobaccos to marry since they are of similar origin. When traveling or using a cigar case, it is best to leave the cellophane on for better protection. Most cigar cases keep the cigars very close, which increases the chances for the wrapper to be bruised.

What type of hygrometer works best, digital or the traditional gauge type?

We believe that digital hygrometers are much more reliable. Just be certain to replace the batteries every few months.

What is the right temperature and humidity for my humidor?

Anywhere from 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for both temperature and humidity. Be sure to use distilled water only.

My new humidor is not holding at 70% humidity. What can I do to fix this?

Remove your cigars and using a soft cloth, wipe down the inside of your humidor with distilled water. Close the box and leave it overnight. The next day, place your cigars in your humidor and check your hygrometer for improvement. Repeat this process for a few days. On many occasions, the wood might need to be prepared more than once. Also, check the seal to make sure that it is tight. Keep your humidor away from direct sunlight or anywhere where it might be subject to unnecessary heat. Remember, you want to keep your humidor in a room-temperature environment, not in a garage or in your backyard.

Are the various cigar fluids and juices really necessary and do they work?

If you keep an eye on your hygrometer regularly and fill humidification unit as needed, you should be ok using just distilled water. However, it would not hurt to use them every few months to rejuvenate the sponge in the humidification unit.

I am not ready to buy a humidor, what are some other alternatives?

Another alternative would be to place your cigars in a Tupperware container with a moist sponge. Keep it in your refrigerator, away from the freezer, and make sure your refrigerator is not set too cold. DEFINITELY DO NOT FREEZE! Also, Gotham Cigars sells dirt-cheap humidors that do the trick and do not need to be refrigerated.

What can I do to save my cigars if I find a tobacco beetle in my humidor?

Tobacco beetles are the worst enemies for a humidor full of cigars. If in your humidor you find cigars with holes in them, you must throw them away immediately. Take the rest of your cigars and place them in a sealed plastic bag and freeze them for at least 3-5 days. This will destroy any beetles that might be alive. After the days pass, move the cigars to the coldest part of your fridge for an additional couple of days, which will allow them to defrost gradually. Make sure you wipe down your humidor with distilled water and a soft cloth before returning your cigars. In about a week they should return to room temperature.

Cigar Tips

We hope you will find this Cigar Tip useful, because our goal is to improve the total cigar smoking experience for each of our clients. If you have a questions, please feel free to email us here .

Should I take the cellophane (plastic) off my cigars before I put them in my humidor?

Removing the cellophane allows your cigars to breathe better, which in turn will allow them to age faster. Removing the cellophane will allow any excess moisture contained within the barrel of the cigar to wick away quicker, resulting in a better burn and draw.

Leaving the cellophane on protects the wrapper from chipping and/or splitting. If you are someone who constantly moves your cigars around, leaving the cellophane on can save you from considerable wrapper damage. Leaving the cellophane intact also makes it easier to take the cigar wherever you wish.

How do you measure ring size or ring gauge?

Ring gauge is the diameter of a cigar in 1/64ths of an inch.

For example, a 48-ring-gauge cigar is 48/64th of an inch in diameter or reduced 3/4" in diameter.

Why do some cigars require further aging?

Cigars are like fine wines; some are enjoyed young, while others benefit greatly from being put away and enjoyed later.

All handmade cigars require a few months of aging to allow the excess moisture introduced during the process of their bunching and rolling to be wicked away. You will find that many blends mature and marry when allowed time to age and, typically, the heavier the blend, the more aging they need to improve them.

Some blends actually go through a period of time after they are made. This is a time where the tobaccos have yet to marry and meld within the blend, and when you smoke the cigar it may actually taste bad. This period can last upwards of year in the heaviest of blends.In addition to a more luxurious, mellow, and richer smoke, you will find that cigars allowed to age for a year or more will burn and draw better.

Aging cigars has always been a practice amongst the wealthy and most knowledgeable of aficionados. Truth is, aging will improve your discount bundle cigar immeasurably and we encourage everyone to try setting some cigars aside to be enjoyed later. Once you have enjoyed the experience of an aged cigar, we are certain you will understand the benefits of waiting.

What are the different tools used to cut the cap off the cigar?

Cutters: A cutter is a guillotine style device used to slice the cap off of the cigar. It is the most common type, and is available as a single, double, and even triple blade. The single and double blades are the most common. Most double blades cutters are more expensive than the single blades, but they will last far longer, as they are self-sharpening. Most single blade cutters are disposable, and should be thrown away once they have stopped making a clean, sharp cut. If you buy an expensive gold or silver single blade cutter, be sure that the blade is replaceable, or else you will have just spent a lot of money on a disposable cutter.

Scissors/Clippers: These scissor-action clippers work the same way that the double blade cutter does. However, they are not self sharpening, and can crush or tear the head off the cigar if they are not kept at peak sharpness. They do not fit comfortably in a pocket, and therefore the lack of portability makes them attractive for home use only.

Wedge Cutter: These cut a "V" down the center of the cap, about an 1/8-1/4" deep. Typically, they work very well on thin (less than 40 ring size) and tapered (torpedo shaped) cigars. They do not give a clean cut on the thicker heads.

Punch: A punch cuts a small circle into the cap. A well designed one can have an ejection spring to push out the cut tobacco. The punch does not work well on thin cigars. It works well on thick cigars, especially the oversized ones of 54 ring gauge or more. Often a guillotine cutter can not accommodate these mammoths. Also, the punch hole in these giants relieves you from having to put the whole cigar in between your lips, which can be uncomfortable on the jaw. Rather, you can "sip" the smoke through the punch opening.

Poker/Piercer: This is a pin-like rod that just pokes a hole in the cap. It does not allow a good draw, which can cause the cigar to burn improperly, or provide its full flavor. It also causes a build up of bitter tars at its opening, once you have been smoking the cigar for a while. Therefore, a piercer is not recommended on anything larger than a short, thin cigar.

What makes a proper lighter for cigars?

There are 2 critical features you should look for. First, the type of fuel it uses. It must be a clean burning fuel such as butane. Most other lighter fuels give off a chemical or kerosene-like odor that will alter the taste of your cigar. Secondly, the lighter must provide a large enough flame to light the whole cigar. The "blowtorch" style lighters have become very popular, because they burn at an extremely high temperature, and can do the job from several inches away. Remember, to properly light the cigar, you never want to actually put the foot directly into the flame. The larger and hotter your flame is, the further away you can keep the cigar from it and gently draw the heat up.

Does the cigar's name indicate its dimension?

Quite often they do. There are some basic shapes that fall within certain size parameters. These shapes are given names, so that there is some degree of universality in the industry. These descriptive dimensions are approximate, but here are some guidelines: Short is less than 5.5 inches. Long is greater than 6.5 inches. Thin is less than 42 ring size. Thick is greater than 47 ring. The group below are the most common shapes.

  • Robusto: Short and thick
  • Lonsdale: Thin and long
  • Corona: Medium length and medium gauge
  • Churchill: Long and thick

Please note that these are only generic shape names. For example, a Robusto from one brand may have slightly different dimensions than a Robusto from another brand.

There are other shapes that fall between and around these basics:

  • Toro: Somewhere between robusto and churchill.
  • Panatela: A skinny lonsdale.
  • Rothchild: Somewhere between a robusto and a corona.
  • Presidente: Either a little larger or smaller than a churchill

Manufacturers can also add one of these common adjectives to the name. They can help you to envision the size. Gorda, grande, gran, larga, extra, doble, or double always mean they are adding on to the size. Petite, slim, finos, or demi indicate some sort of reduction to the size. For example a "Corona Grande" is a long corona, and would be close to a londsdale.

On top of all this we will now add the Figurados. Here are the basic definitions. Note, you will find more disparity here among brands than you can imagine. When you are dealing with parejos, you can be positive that robustos from different brands will always resemble each other to some degree. However, with figurados, almost anything goes. One company's torpedo will be another's piramide or perfecto. These are the most common descriptions for the shape names on today's market. Remember, all dimensions described are approximations.

  • Torpedo: The cap is a sharp point, the foot is open. The shape does not begin to taper until the last 2 inches near the cap. The foot will measure between 46 to 54 in ring size. The length can range from 5 to 7 inches.
  • Piramide: The cap is round, the foot is open. The cigar will immediately taper from the foot right down to the cap. For this reason, many piramides will be described with two ring sizes. For example, 7 x 36-50. This means that it is a seven inch cigar, and the tuck is 50 ring, and it drops down to 36 by the time it reaches the cap.
  • Triangulo: Similar to a piramide, but the cap is pointed.
  • Belicoso: Similar to a torpedo, but usually a little shorter. Also, the taper will occur even more quickly than the torpedo, typically occurring within the last 3/4" near the cap.
  • Perfecto: The perfecto will have both ends closed. The cap can be round or pointed. The tuck is typically tapered to the width of a cigarette. On some brands, you light the foot as is, and with others, if it is more than 3/8", you clip off a bit to expose the filler. The sides can be straight, or there can be a bulge in the first half of the cigar near the foot. The length of a perfecto can vary from 4-8"
  • Diadema: Traditionally, this is a giant perfecto, measuring at least 8" long. However, it is can be used to name any huge scale version of the figurados described above.
  • Culebra: Three panetelas twisted around each other and held together with either ribbon or a large cigar band. The segments of a traditional culebra will be composed of all ligero filler, not mild seco and volado fillers of a regular panetela. You must separate them before smoking. Do not attempt to straighten out the wavy shape. Smoke them in the curved way that they have been cured.

What are characteristics of a good humidor?

There are several key points that all good humidors share. It is important that you chose the right one in order to protect your precious and delicate cigars. First, is the interior lining. It should be made of Spanish cedar. A very small percentage of humidors on the market use a mahogany interior as an acceptable alternative. The next important feature to look for is the seal between the lid and the rim of the box. It should be a tight seal, but it can not be purely airtight. Lids that are very heavy, relative to the rest of the box, help to promote a sufficient seal.

Another critical element to look at is the hinges on the lid. They must be heavy duty, and be secured with good anchoring. Often, as described earlier, the lids can be very heavy, and the hinging must be sturdy enough to support the stress that a heavy lid will put on them. Often, people will say that the most critical part of a humidor is the humidification element. This is not true, it's actually the only component than can actually be replaced. It is more important to have good seals and hinges.

 

Why are wrapper leaves so special?

The wrapper is a very delicate leaf, and is only one layer thick around the cigar. It contributes a large percentage to the overall flavor of the cigar. Wrapper leaves can be grown in many places on the globe, and each variety contributes its own characteristics towards the cigar's flavor. A wrapper leaf is evaluated on the thinness of its veins, its oily sheen, its even coloring, and most importantly, its unblemished appearance. In order to achieve and maintain these desired characteristics, the leaves are often carefully and skillfully handled several hundred times from picking, curing, stripping, aging, and rolling. Binder leaves are often wrapper leaves that have been rejected due to some sort of cosmetic imperfection.

What is Maduro?

Maduro, directly translated from Spanish, means "mature" or "ripe". On a cigar, it applies to the wrapper leaf that is medium or dark brown. The two most common styles of maduro are Colorado (medium brown), and Oscuro (dark brown, almost black). There are several methods used to achieve these shades, depending on the hybrid of plant. Some are fermented for longer periods of time, while others are merely left on the plant unpicked until the very end of the plant's annual growing cycle. Most maduro shaded wrappers are grown in Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Cameroon.

Can I store my cigars in my refrigerator?

No, as they will dry out quickly. This used to be common and sound advice, but it no longer holds true because almost all of today's refrigerators actually dehydrate their interiors to prevent condensation from forming on their exteriors. However, an old refrigerator or freezer that you leave unplugged can make an excellent large alternative storage device for cigars.

What do the two numbers mean when applied to cigar sizes?

They are the length and ring gauge (diameter). The length is measured in inches. The ring gauge is measured in units of 1/64th's of an inch. For example, a cigar that is "8 x 48" is 8 inches long and 48/64ths of an inch in diameter.

Which is worse: low humidity or high humidity?

High humidity is of greater concern than low for a few reasons:

  1. High humidity can cause some cigars to split. Most won't, but it does happen.
  2. Cigar won't burn or draw as well at high humidity, i.e. a cigar stored at 65%RH will typically smoke great, while one at 75% is likely to be tight and burn unevenly.
  3. High humidity greatly increases your chance of mold.
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