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Cigar 101

  Wrapper Colors and Definitions
  • Commonly Used Terms:
    • Claro              –         green
    • Natural          –         brown
    • Maduro           –         dark brown
  • In-depth Terms:
    • Double Claro                        -           very green
    • Claro / Jade / Candela          -           green
    • Natural Claro                        -           khaki
    • Natural / Colorado                -           brown
    • Natural Maduro                   -           light-dark brown
    • Maduro                                 -           dark brown
    • Oscuro / Maduro Maduro    -           black                                                 

How Wrapper Effects Cigar Taste

  • Claro Wrapper:
    • This type of tobacco leaf wrapper is harvested prematurely and therefore has a low sugar and oil content. Due to the low amounts of sugar and oil, these cigars tend to be very mild in flavor. The fact that the wrapper does not have much oil content means that the cigar tends to burn faster.
  • Natural Wrapper:
    • The Natural tobacco leaf wrapper matures on its own and is hung in a barn to dry. The leaves have a medium amount of oil and sugar content. The increase in oil and sugar causes these cigars to have more flavors. Cigars wrapped in a Natural Wrapper burn slowly and have a very flavorful taste.
  • Maduro Wrapper:
    • The Maduro tobacco leaf wrapper matures in the fields and gets the most sunlight of all the wrapper types. The high amount of sunlight causes the Maduro wrapper to sweat natural oils and increases sugar content. Cigars wrapped in Maduro leaves have tremendous flavor. These cigars burn very slowly and command wonderfully full taste.

Cutting Your Cigar:

  • When cutting your cigar always make sure you have the appropriate tools.
    • Guillotine or Flat Cut
      • Place the head of the cigar through the cutter-hole to the point where the end begins to curve to its peak (the head).
      • Cut the top of the cigar off, leaving the bottom of the curving peak (head) intact.
      • The Guillotine cut allows for an easier draw and cooler smoke.
    • V-Cut
      • Using a V-Cutter, place the head of the cigar flush against the cutter-hole.
      • The V-Cut will leave the head of the cigar intact.
      • The V-Cut prevents any tar from touching your tongue.
      • This cut allows for an easy draw and cool smoke.
    • Bullet Cut / Bulls-Eye-Cut
      • Place the end of the bullet cut flush with the tip of the cigar’s head.
      • Slowly turn the cutter into the head in a “drilling motion”.
      • Once the bullet’s blade is fully in, gently pull the cutter out, still using the “drilling motion”
      • The Bullet Cut leaves the head intact and allows for a cool, easy smoke. 

Lighting Your Cigar:

  • When lighting your cigar, make sure you hold it at a 45 degree angle with the end away from your mouth pointing down.
  • Place the flame gently underneath the end of the cigar. Do not touch the flame to the cigar; this will cause the end to light up too quickly. Rotate the cigar slowly in your fingers and lightly char the end. Smell the smoke as the first aromas rise from the leaves.
  • Now that the cigar is giving off a small amount of smoke, place the cigar in your mouth.
  • With the cigar in your mouth, hold the flame below the end, still making sure that the cigar and the flame never touch.
  • Slowly pull the smoke in and out of your mouth while gently rotating the cigar.
  • Now that the end of the cigar is evenly lit – sit back and enjoy the moment.  

Ways to Light Your Cigar:

  • Paper Match
    • Not the best way to light your cigar due to the high sulfur taste the match will give off when lit.
  • Wood Match
    • Wood matches are better that Paper Matches because the sulfur burns off very quickly.
  • Fluid Lighters (i.e. Zippos)
    • These will work in a pinch, however the lighter fluid may cause the cigar to have a gasoline-like taste.
  • Butane Lighters
    • One of the best ways to light your cigar. Butane has no taste or smell and therefore will not interfere with your cigar’s aroma. You can find a great selection of Butane Lighter in the Lighter section here.
  • Cedar Match
    • Another great way to light your cigar. Break off a piece of cedar from your cigar box and use this strip to light the cigar. The cedar will light the cigar well and will not harm its tastes and aromas.

Cigar Lengths, Ring Gauges, and Average Smoke Times

Shape Name

Average Size

Average Ring Gauge

Average Smoking Time

Belvedere 3 to 5 inches 30 to 36 (≈ ½ inch) 15 to 20 minutes
Ascot 3 to 5 inches 30 to 36 (≈ ½ inch) 15 to 20 minutes
Demitasse 3 to 5 inches 30 to 36 (≈ ½ inch) 15 to 20 minutes
Petite Corona 4 ½ to 5 inches 40 to 42 (≈ 3/5 inch) 25 minutes
Robusto 4 ½ inches 48  (≈ ¾ inch) 25 to 40 minutes
Rothschild 4 ½ inches 48  (≈ ¾ inch) 25 to 40 minutes
Petite Belicoso 5 inches 40 (≈ 6/10 inch) 25 to 35 minutes
Corona 5 ½ inches 42 (≈ 7/10 inch) 30 to 45 minutes
Corona Extra 5 ¾ inches 44 to 46 (≈ 7/10 inch) 40 minutes
Corona Royale 5 ¾ inches 44 to 46 (≈ 7/10 inch) 40 minutes
Belicoso 6 inches 48  (≈ ¾ inch) 35 to 45 minutes
Panatela 6 to 6 ½ inches 34 to 39 (≈ ½ inch) 35 to 45 minutes
Lonsdale 6 inches 43 (≈ 7/10 inch) 45 to 50 minutes
Corona Grandes 6 to 6 ½ inches 44 to 46 (≈ 7/10 inch) 45 minutes
Pyramid 6 to 7 inches 52 at foot / 42 at head 45 to 60 minutes
Churchill 7 inches 47 to 48 (≈ ¾ inch) 45 to 60 minutes
Double Corona 7 ½ to 8 inches 49 to 52 (≈ 8/10 inch) 45 to 60 minutes
Long Panatela 7 ½ to 8 inches 49 to 52 (≈ 8/10 inch) 45 to 60 minutes
Gigante 8 ½ inches 52 to 60 (≈ 9/10 inch) 60 to 90 minutes
Presidente 8 ½ inches 52 to 60 (≈ 9/10 inch) 60 to 90 minutes
Immensa 8 ½ inches 52 to 60 (≈ 9/10 inch) 60 to 90 minutes
Culebra (3 cigars intertwined) 5 to 6 inches each 34 (≈ ½ inch) Smoke each separately
Torpedo Varies Varies Varies