I recently overheard a dubious piece of advice to a budding cigar smoker: “Pick a cigar that matches your body type,” the would-be advisor pontificated, “this way you won’t look silly. Big people should smoke big cigars, and small people should smoke small cigars.”
This is terrible advice. It’s nearly impossible to make every shape taste exactly alike, not that this would even be a good thing. Different shapes have different flavors; they feel different in your hand; they can even vary in strength. Don’t believe me? Head over to our Test Flights cigar samplers page and see for yourself!
If I heeded the aforementioned advice, I’d be stuck smoking Flor de Oliva Super Giants. But I LIKE that a Lancero generally produces more of the wrapper’s flavor in a stronger-tasting smoke, while a fat 60 ring Toro will burn cool with a more balanced, milder flavor. There’s a time and a place for every vitola available today.
As you buy more cigars, you’ll probably find yourself gravitating to a particular vitola, regardless the brand. For me, it’s Corona and Corona Gorda. Others appreciate the way a torpedo concentrates the flavor. Still others prefer the myraid transitions of a Double Perfecto.
Whatever your preference, it’s important to remember that each vitola has its own merits. Short on time? Try a Petite Corona. REALLY short on time? Go for something even smaller! Need an all-day burner for the golf course? Reach for a Double Corona or Presidente. After dinner drinks? A Churchill offers exceptional balance in hand and an inimitable elegance. Just closed a big deal? Try a fancy figurado like a Pyramid, Salomon, or Diadema.
Robustos have somehow come to dominate the American cigar-scape. And I know many a cigar smoker who will stick to Robusto, because they’re the default. But if you’re serious about enjoy cigars…and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t still be reading if that weren’t the case…branch out and try a new vitola or two – even in a blend you’re already familiar with. Odds are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Cigar smokers are a funny lot. Although a big part of becoming a “cigar aficionado” is trying a variety of blends and shapes, for the most part, cigar smokers know what they like and tend to stick with it. This includes a preference for how their cigars are rolled, which can be either round or box-pressed, also referred to as “square-pressed.”
Also referred to as parejos, it’s safe to say that most cigar smokers prefer the round variety. Of course, the more traditional, round handmade premium cigars are produced in greater number, too. Although box-pressed cigars have grown in popularity over the years, there are many cigar smokers who simply refuse to smoke them. To my chagrin, Customer Service has told me on several occasions that a customer returned a box of cigars because I neglected to include that they were box-pressed in the copy. (Sorry.) The main reason for this is, that to many cigar smokers, a square shaped cigar just isn’t comfortable.
That said, if a box-pressed cigar gets glowing reviews, most cigar smokers will gladly reach for it and give it a try, even if they usually prefer round cigars.
So how did the box-pressed cigar come into being? According to CigarAdvisor.com, “Box-pressed” or “square-pressed” cigars are literally “pressed” into the factory box, whereby the pressure from the box creates a square shape. Originating in Cuba, this was done to save shipping space. As a result, the process causes the cigars to burn longer and with a more consistent flavor, giving the smoker a more enjoyable smoke.
If you smoke Rocky Patel cigars, you’ll notice that some of his more upscale cigars are box-pressed, such as the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 & 1992, Decade, Olde Worlde Reserve, and Honduran Classic. This is mainly because Rocky personally prefers the box-pressed shape.
CAO is another company that produces a couple of box-pressed selections, such as the CAO Maduro and CAO Italia. They even make a “Cuban Press” sampler that includes cigars made with an authentic Cuban “trunk-press” method. Moreover, CAO regional sales manager, Paul Spence, once told me at a CAO in-store event that he loves box-pressed cigars because they smoke longer, and every puff is as flavorful as the one that preceded it.
Arguably, the most famous box-pressed cigars are the Padron Anniversary selections. Most of their mainline cigars offer pressed shapes, too, but the sharp, trademark edges of the Anniversary seem to be as distinctive as the wonderful flavors they produce as well.
As noted earlier, there are many more round-shaped cigars from which to choose, and they will probably remain the standard for the industry moving forward. If you only smoke round cigars, no problemo amigo, but if you insist on being a stickler about it, you’re missing out on some superb experiences.