*Price is a sale price, and subject to change.
Tapered Head Heaven
By Gary Korb
In case you haven’t noticed, the cigars in this month’s Buying Guide sampler are all tapered head cigars, also referred to as “Figurados.” A figurado is also identified by its non-straight-sided shape, which is why they are given names like Torpedo, Belicoso, Pyramid, Diademas, Perfecto, and Double Perfecto (tapered at both ends). Not surprisingly, the names of these frontmarks originated in Cuba. Since figurados are commonly rolled to wider ring gauges, they naturally offer more flavor and complexity. Moreover, by design, the atypical tapered head is intended to concentrate the smoke as it passes through the head’s narrow pathway. The narrower you make the cut, the more concentrated the smoke, whereas the wider you make the cut, the thicker the smoke.
To the novice, Torpedo cigars, Belicosos, and Pyramids look identical, but there is a difference. Torpedoes have a rounder tapered head with a body that’s a little thicker in the middle (traditionally bulged),
a flat foot, and are normally about 6 to 6? inches in length. Belicosos are generally about the same length as Torpedoes, but have a much sharper head. Pyramids share the same pointed head as Belicosos, but the body tends to flare out to a wider ring at the foot. Of course, frontmarks are named at the discretion of the manufacturer. For example, the Mi Barrio “El Billetero” is a Belicoso with a fancy name. Most Pyramids (or Piramides), are labeled as a “No.2,” like the legendary Montecristo No.2.
Figurados are often higher in price, too. One reason is the extra tobacco used in the cigar. But it has more to do with the skill required to roll them properly, which is why figurados are only assigned to the factory’s most experienced tabaqueros. If you’re a regular cigar smoker and have never smoked a figurado, you’re really missing out on some marvelous cigars.
How to clip a figurado
V-cutters tend to be the most effective way to clip tapered head cigars. Here’s why: For one, the V-cutter clips the head of the cigar leaving a cleft-shaped cut. It should be deep enough to give you a good draw, too. A standard double or single blade cutter will also do the trick, but if you cut the head too far down, the wrapper could unfurl, and there’s little hope for repairing it. Cut it too short and you may have a draw problem. That said, if you prefer using a double blade cutter, here’s a fool-proof way to get a good cut: Open the cutter and lay it flat on a table. Place the head in the middle of the cutter, clip it, and test the draw. The first clip will probably be too short. If so, repeat the process, take another draw, and see if it improved. It usually takes about two or three cuts to get the cigar to draw well, plus, you’ll keep the wrapper intact. This also allows you to customize the amount of smoke you want to draw through the head.