Cigar Information Guide for Cigar Care & Storage

Our cigar information guide provides cigar information on topics such as cigar care and cigar storage so that you can keep your cigars fresh for the entire life of your cigars.

Learning how to cut and light a cigar will determine how well your cigar will smoke. Learn about cigar anatomy, cigar etiquette, types of cigars available, their history, and other informative cigar facts.

The Cigar Primer

Learn how to start your cigar journey right here! All of the basics are covered in this short course.

About the Ingredients

What goes into cigars? The answer to this question is the key to assessing the quality of a specific cigar. All but the thinnest cigars include three elements: (1) the filler tobacco at the center, (2) a binder leaf which holds the filler together and (3) the outer wrapper, which is rolled around the binder.

Cigars which are made by hand use "long filler" tobacco: leaves which run the length of a cigar. In a handmade, the filler, binder and wrapper are combined manually to create a cigar.

Machine-made cigars utilize high-speed machinery to combine "short filler" tobacco - usually scraps or pieces of tobacco - with a binder and wrapper. Because of the tension placed on the tobacco by the machines, the binders and wrappers are often made of a homogenized tobacco product which is stronger than natural leaves and can be produced in a variety of flavors, strengths and textures.

A few brands combine machine-bunching (using long-filler tobacco) with hand-rolled wrappers; this practice has been very properly dubbed "hand-rolled" as opposed to handmade by cigar expert Rick Hacker in The Ultimate Cigar Book. And some larger cigars use "mixed" or "combination" filler of long-filler and short-filler tobaccos.

The quality of the tobaccos and more importantly, how they are blended, determines the quality of the smoking experience. In the filler, "ligero" leaves which provide power are blended with "seco" leaves with a milder flavor and "volado" which helps to ensure an even burn. These are combined with a binder and wrapper to provide a balanced flavor.

How to Choose a Cigar

When selecting a cigar for the first time, it can be seen as a very daunting experience. You’re in a foreign place with many different cigar brands, sizes, names, and colors; you quietly think to yourself what does all of this mean? The best thing to do at this point is taking a breath and let the guiding hand of a tobacconist help you, but in order for him or her to help a bit of information will be needed at first. So let’s start...

So before you take that stroll into your local shop, let’s go over the very basic information you will need to know...

Cigar Profile

The first question you will be asked is "What strength cigar would you like?”

To start with, you need to know that there are 3 basic strength classifications.

  1. Mild
  2. Medium
  3. Full Body (Strong)

Much like the cook on a meat (where the basic cook can be rare, medium or well cooked), these classifications can often be broken down further to incorporate strengths that will bridge the gap between the major classes.

These expanded classifications will now include:

  • Mild
  • Mild – Medium
  • Medium
  • Medium – Full Bodied (Strong)
  • Full Bodied (Strong)

If you never smoked a cigar, or any tobacco product it’s pretty safe to say that you probably would want to start out with a mild cigar. At least that is what I would recommend until we would find out how your enjoyed your first cigar. Here is a great list of beginner cigars that offer a exceptional flavor and a very mild and smooth smoke. Montecristo White is a great beginner cigar, so is Macanudo Café. Another great choice is the Licenciados Toro which received an outstanding 93 rating by Cigar Aficionado magazine. If you’re a bit of a high roller try a Davidoff for a more exquisite cigar.

In my personal opinion if you just enjoy smoking; I believe that there is a cigar for you, we just need to find the right on for you to try. I personally smoked a number of cigars before I got into cigars. It was a Hoya De Monterrey Epicure #1 (a Cuban) what started me on my cigar adventure, but I wouldn’t enjoy it today as a more seasoned smoker. Unless well read the examples below.

If you’re a more seasoned smoker and have enjoyed a couple of cigars, and are able to smoke a medium – full bodied cigar. There are exceptional cigars like Flor De Las Antillas Maduro which is the maker of the #1 cigar of the year blend of 2012, in a maduro wrap. Also a Cohiba Macassar (one of the best tasting cigars outside of Cuba), The Bauza by Arturo Fuente or the Davidoff Yamasa which is amazingly smooth but really full bodied, with a complex smoke.

Another thing we really need to think about is the who, what, when, where of enjoying a fine cigar would entail.

Cigar Wrappers Intro

If you are new to cigars, don’t worry, it’s not as confusing as it may seem. As long as you know some background information on cigar selection, you can become a knowledgeable cigar smoker in no time! 

The most obvious characteristic of most cigars is the color of the exterior wrapper. While not the only factor in the taste of a cigar, it is an important element and a key in many people's purchase of specific cigars. The first thing you see when you look at a cigar is its tightly rolled wrapper. You examine the color and wonder why there are so many color characteristics. What do they all mean? Well, although manufacturers have identified more than 100 different wrapper shades, they can be grouped into seven major color classifications, as noted below:

Double Claro:

Also known as "American Market Selection" [AMS] or "Candela," this is a green wrapper. Once popular, it is rarely found today.

Claro:

This is a very light tan color, almost beige in shade; often grown in Connecticut or from Connecticut seeds in Ecuador.

Colorado Claro:

A medium brown found on many cigars, this category covers many descriptions. The most popular are "Natural" or "English Market Selection" [EMS]. Tobaccos in this shade are grown in many countries.

Colorado:

This shade is instantly recognizable by the obvious reddish tint.

Colorado Maduro:

Darker than Colorado Claro in shade, this color is often associated with African tobacco, such as wrappers from Cameroon, or with Havana Seed tobacco grown in Honduras or Nicaragua.

Maduro:

Very dark brown to almost black. Tobacco for Maduro wrappers is primarily grown in Connecticut, Mexico, Nicaragua and Brazil.

Oscuro:

This is black . . . really black. This shade of wrapper reappeared with more frequency in 2001 after being almost off the market in the 1990s.

Size

Since were dialed into what strength of cigar we would like to smoke lets choose a size that is right for you. Some guys enjoy smoking for hours, others enjoy smoking for 45 mins or even 20 mins and under. Size as well a strength is a matter of personal preference, but no matter your preference your environment will differently play a factor.

There are cigars of every shape and every size for every occasion. From tiny, cigarette-like cigarillos to giant monsters resembling pool cues, there is a wide variety to choose from.

Certain sizes and shapes which have gained popularity over the years and have become widely recognized, even by non-smokers. Cigar shape names such as "corona" or "panatela" have specific meanings to the cigar industry, although there is no formally agreed-to standard for any given size.

The following table lists 20 well-known shapes, and is adapted from Paul Garmirian's explanation of sizes in The Gourmet Guide to Cigars. The "classical" measurements for which this shape is known are given, along with a size and girth range for each size for classification purposes:



ShapeClassical Length x RingLength rangeRing range
Giant9 x 528 & up50 & up
Double Corona7 3/4 x 496 3/4 x 7 3/449-54
Churchill7 x 476 1/2-746-48
Perfectononeallall
Pyramid7 x 36->54allflared
Torpedo6 1/2 x 52alltapered
Toro6 x 505 5/8-6 5/848-54
Robusto5 x 504 1/2-5 1/248-54
Grand Corona6 1/2 x 465 5/8-6 5/8<45-47
Corona Extra5 1/2 x 464 1/2-5 1/245-47
Giant Corona7 1/2 x 447 1/2 & up42-45
Lonsdale6 1/2 x 426 1/2-7 1/440-44
Long Corona6 x 425 7/8-6 3/840-44
Corona5 1/2 x 425 1/4-5 3/440-44
Petit Corona5 x 424-540-44
Long Panatela7 1/2 x 387 & up35-39
Panatela6 x 385 1/2-6 7/835-39
Short Panatela5 x 384-5 3/835-39
Slim Panatela6 x 345 & up30-34
Small Panatela5 x 334-530-34
Cigarillos4 x 266 & less29 & less



With the great increase in shaped cigars, here are our classification criteria for figurados:

Culebras, which is made up of three small cigars twisted together. This shape has returned to the U.S. market and a few manufacturers have this unique shape available.

Perfecto, which has two tapered ends. Until recently, there were just a few cigars which offered Perfecto "tips" on the foot, but true Perfectos have made their comeback. For the bold, take a look at the Puros Indios Gran Victoria (10 inches long by 60 ring) to see a true "pot-bellied" cigar.

Torpedo, which was traditionally a fat cigar with two fully closed, pointed ends, but has now come to mean a cigar with an open foot and a straight body which tapers to a closed, pointed head. This "new" torpedo was popularized by the Montecristo (Havana) No. 2, which debuted in 1935. The Torpedo differs from "Pyramid"-shaped cigars, which flare continuously from the head to the foot, essentially forming a triangle.

Like the Torpedo, whose meaning has changed over time, the Royal Corona or Rothschild title is seen less and less on cigars now known as "Robustos." This change has been rapid over the past 4-5 years, but some manufacturers still label their shorter, thicker cigars as Rothschilds or even as a "Rothchild" (an incorrect spelling of the famous German banking family name). A few manufacturers use both and label their 5-5 1/2-inch, 50-ring models as "Robustos" and reserve the "Rothschild" name for shorter, but still 50-ring, cigars of 4-4 3/4 inches!

Many other shape names are used by manufacturers; some cigars even have multiple names. For the sake of convenience, the many types of small, very thin cigars are grouped under the "Cigarillo" title rather than distributed over a long list of names such as "Belvederes," "Demi-Tasse" and others.