The Best Cigar Sizes for Sampling the Blend
Can One Size Really Fit All?
By Gary Korb
If you’re an avid cigar smoker, you probably have a preference for at least one or more cigars in a specific size or shape. I like the classic Double Perfecto for its retro-looking tapered head and foot. I also buy a lot of Toros, because at 6″ x50 (on average), they offer more smoke for the money. Another shape I’ve really come to enjoy over the years is a Corona Gorda rolled to 6″ x 47. I discovered this by smoking a lot of different shapes over the years, and that’s probably how you found your favorite cigar shape. The question is, are some cigar shapes better for getting the most flavor out a cigar’s blend than others?
Logically speaking, we know that for any given premium handmade cigar line, each vitola, or shape, is going to have its own individual flavors and aroma. Larger cigars like Torpedoes and Churchills have a higher filler-to-wrapper ratio, while Coronas and Lonsdales will have higher wrapper-to-filler ratio. Using that rationale, for cigars made with long-filler tobaccos from several countries, a Belicoso may offer a more complex, full-flavored smoke. If the cigar is rolled with a very rare and flavorful wrapper, a Corona, even a Petite Corona, or a Lancero might be in order. Want a happy medium between the two? A Robusto may do the trick.
So how does a cigar maker know when the blend he’s created is right where he wants it? According to José Blanco of Las Cumbres Tabaco in the Dominican Republic, “Some people use a Corona Gorda [rolled to 6½” x 46] and others a Robusto, but it also depends on the wrapper and what you are looking for, personally. Depending what I want to make, I use both sizes.”
The shapes José described can range from 46-52 in ring gauge, and anywhere from 5-6½ inches in length. Because of its wider diameter and medium length, a 5″ x 50 Robusto is a great shape for testing a blend’s balance and strength. A number of years ago I visited a few factories in Honduras and Nicaragua that were working on some new private label blends, and all of the samples were Robustos. Corona Gorda’s rolled to 6″ x 50 (a.k.a. “Toros”) also have excellent proportions for sampling a new cigar. Although a traditional Toro varies only by an inch in length when compared to the Robusto, the experienced palate of a master blender can easily tell the difference.
Now, it comes down to you. You’ve heard about a great new cigar and want to try it. Do you go with the size you smoke most often, or do you start with a Robusto or a Toro? Tough call, because the logical option would be to go with the size you smoke most often. On the other hand, you may want to go with a Robusto or Toro, if only to taste the best “representation” of the blend. Since a lot of cigar smokers are hesitant to buy a full box of a new or untried cigar, a couple of singles or a 5-pack is a safer bet.
Included among the Cigar Advisor staff responsibilities is sampling new blends. Most of the samples are Robustos, but in recent months, we’ve also smoked a lot of Toros. Though I can’t claim to have a palate as sophisticated as someone like José Blanco, Nick Perdomo, or Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, these sizes supply an ample amount of strength, balance, complexity, and aroma, making for a fair assessment of the blend.
The next time you buy a new cigar, try it in a Robusto or a Toro, and if one of the vitolas is a Corona Gorda at 6½” x 46, or 6″ x 47, give that one a shot. Unless you already smoke one of the aforementioned shapes, compare it to your regular shape and see if it’s more satisfying.
Agree? Disagree? Have your own method for sampling new cigars, or thoughts on sampling different cigar sizes? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment.