Cigars 101

What’s the Difference Between Cigar Strength and Body?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cigar Strength and Body: Deciphering the Difference

For any cigar enthusiast—regardless of experience—understanding the ins-and-outs of strength and body is crucial to unlocking a more personal smoking experience. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct qualities that contribute to a cigar’s overall profile. What follows is a closer look at cigar strength and body that will help you pick the perfect smoke.

 

Sizing Up Cigar Strength

Cigar strength is essentially a measure of the nicotine content in a cigar and its consequent physiological impact on the smoker, which can range from mild to intense. For example, with a strong cigar, you might get a ‘buzz,’ feel dizzy, or have some unease in your stomach.

This strength is primarily influenced by the type of tobacco leaf used and its position on the tobacco plant. The leaves higher on the plant—like Ligero—are exposed to more sunlight. This—along with other factors like nutrient distribution, leaf age and maturity, and environmental stress—results in a higher nicotine content and, therefore, a stronger cigar.

cigar advisor the difference between cigar strength and body - anatomy of a tobacco leaf
The amount of sunlight a tobacco leaf receives will determine its strength and body. The more it gets, the higher both will be.

Understanding the subtleties of cigar strength is one of the most important factors in choosing the right cigar. Strength is classified into three basic categories:

Mellow Strength:

Ideal for beginners or those who prefer a softer smoking experience. These cigars contain lower nicotine levels and offer a gentler introduction, with a lower risk of overpowering. Example: Avo Classic

Medium Strength:

Striking a balance in nicotine content, medium-strength cigars deliver a meaty and satisfying experience without the intensity of their full-strength counterparts.
Example: Romeo y Julieta Capulet

Full Strength:

For the experienced smoker who enjoys a robust experience, full-strength cigars contain high levels of nicotine and produce a strong effect.
Example: Ferio Tego Generoso

 

Cigar Body: A Dance of Flavors

Contrary to strength, the body of a cigar refers to the richness and depth of its flavors and aromas. This is an evaluation of the cigar’s overall character and complexity, ranging from mellow to full-bodied. Factors influencing body include the blend of tobaccos used, what growing region they’re from, and the methods of cigar construction.

cigar advisor the difference between cigar strength and body - tobacco growing in a field
Where a tobacco leaf is grown will help determine the poignancy of its flavors.

And while a full-bodied cigar is characterized by a layered, robust flavor profile that is deeply satisfying, a light-bodied cigar offers a more delicate, subtle flavor journey, appealing to those who prefer gentleness over intensity.

Encompassing complexity, smoke texture, and intensity of the taste, a premium cigar’s body is also divided into three categories:

Mellow Body:

These cigars are known for their subtle and delicate flavor profiles, often featuring floral, creamy, or light woody notes. They are smooth, making them accessible and enjoyable for those who prefer a mellower experience.
Example: Perdomo Champagne

Medium Body:

Providing more taste without overpowering the senses, medium-bodied cigars offer a balanced bouquet of flavors. These might include a blend of spice, wood, and earthy notes and cater to those looking for something richer.
Example: Arturo Fuente 8-5-8

Full Body:

Aimed at the seasoned enthusiast, full-bodied cigars deliver a robust and complex flavor experience. These blends are often characterized by spicy, leathery, or earthy notes offering both power and depth.
Example: Oliva Serie V

 

Misconceptions about Strength and Body

A notable misconception around premium cigars is the assumption that a cigar’s wrapper color directly indicates its strength. While Maduro and darker shade wrappers might suggest a richer flavor profile, the true basis of strength lies within the blend of tobaccos.

cigar advisor the difference between cigar strength and body - shades of cigar wrapper color
Darker Maduro cigar wrappers, like coffee, are often typecast as strong based on looks alone. The truth is, there are plenty of mellow Maduro options, and even stronger lighter-wrapped cigars, too. The tobaccos inside typically shape a cigar’s intensity.

For newcomers, it’s advisable to start with cigars on the mellower end of the spectrum regarding both strength and body. This approach allows for a gradual adaptation to the nitty gritty of enjoying premium cigars and paves the way for more enjoyment overall.

Understanding the differences between cigar strength and body can take your experience from good to great. You’ll be able to confidently choose cigars offering just what you’re looking for in terms of both flavor and punchiness. Whether you’re drawn to the gentle whisperings of a light-bodied, mellow strength premium, the richness and complexity of a full-bodied, full-strength smoke, or something somewhere in-between, there’s a cigar out there for everyone.

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Paul Lukens

Paul Lukens

Copywriter

Paul first fell in love with the leaf back in college, where he majored in Philosophy (yes, seriously). Upon graduating, Paul stared into the abyss and unemployment stared back. He responded by founding the ‘Pounding Fathers,’ a traveling Beer Pong team with the other Philosophy grad at UMass. Aspiring to subsist on more than Ramen Noodles and Natural Ice, Paul put down his ping pong balls and picked up a pen - and a cigar - and began working in the premium cigar industry in 2013.

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