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Is size really everything?

One of the things that’s probably most notable about the appears of a cigar is it’s size and shape. Did you know there are over 15 different sizes just for the parejo alone?!

Let’s start with the two shapes of a cigar – a Parejo (also called a corona) and a Figurado.  The Parejo is the most common shape in cigars. When you think of what a cigar looks like, you probably envision the Parejo. It’s an evenly shaped cylinder with one end capped and one cut. Most other cigar shapes and sizes are measured up against the Parejo style. The Figurado style are the irregular shaped cigars and are considered a higher quality because they’re harder to make.

There are 6 different shapes of the Figurado. 

  • Torpedo – exactly what it sounds like! just like a Parejo except it has a pointed end
  • Pyramid – pointed cap which widens out to a broad flat foot (the foot is the end you smoke)
  • Perfecto – pointed at both ends and fat in the middle
  • Presidente – shaped exactly like a Parejo except it’s categorized as a Figurado for it’s sheer massive size. Occasionally these have a pointed foot like a Perfecto
  • Culebras – three long pointed cigars all braided together
  • Tuscan – this is a typical Italian cigar, thin and tapered at the ends with a very strong aroma (also known as the cheroot)

Culebras

             Culebras Cigars

 

There are 16 sizes of a Parejo: 

  • Rothschild (named after the Rothschild family) – 4.5″ long – 48 ring gauge
  • Robusto – 4 7/8″ long – 50 ring gauge
  • Small Panatela – 5″ long – 33 ring gauge
  • Petit Corona – 5 1/8″ long – 42 ring gauge
  • Carlota – 5 5/8″ long – 35 ring gauge
  • Corona – 5.5″ long – 42 ring gauge
  • Corona Gorda – 5 5/8″ long – 46 ring gauge
  • Panatela – 6″ long – 38 ring gauge
  • Toro – 6″ long – 50 ring gauge
  • Corona Grande – 6 1/8″ long – 42 ring gauge
  • Lonsdale (named after Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale) – 6.5″ long – 42 ring gauge
  • Churchill (named after Winston Churchill) – 7″ long – 47-50 ring gauge
  • Double Corona – 7 5/8″ long – 49 ring gauge
  • Presidente – 8″ long – 50 ring gauge
  • Gran Corona – 9 1/4″ long – 47 ring gauge
  • Double Toro/Gordo – 6″ long – 60 ring gauge
 
 

*The ring gauge is the width of a cigar in 64ths of an inch. 

Cigar Ring Size

                          Cigar Ring Gauge

 

 

 

I should also mention there are “little cigars” which are vastly different than a regular cigar. They are a lot smaller than a cigar or a cigarillo and more resemble a cigarette. 

A cigarillo is basically a little cigar and they are machine made. They don’t need to be kept in a humidor and can often be smoked in less than 10 minutes. 

 

Okay okay, can we smoke one already? Next blog is about accessories!!!

~Cigar and Heels

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It’s more than one leaf?

Last time I talked about how a cigar is made; this time I’m  going to fill you in on what goes inside of one…get it? “fill” you in?! Ha! Okay I have to let a little humor sneak in here and there, even if it’s my absolutely horrible humor!

Did you know a cigar is actually made up of 3 different types of tobacco leaves? If you read my last blog, actually you’d already know that ;)  There’s the Wrapper, Filler and the Binder. Each one of these determines a cigar’s smoking and flavor characteristics.

The leaf you wrap your lips around is the wrapper and comes from the widest part of the tobacco plant.  A lot of a cigar’s flavor and character is determined by the wrapper. And usually the color is used to describe the cigar as a whole. There are over 100 different colors used by various makers, but only seven are commonly used.

 

Variety of tobacco wrapper colors

 

  • Double Claro: very light, sometimes greenish (the green comes from being picked before the are mature and drying them quickly ) – these used to be really popular, but now they’re rare.
  • Claro: light tan, yellowish (usually means it’s shade grown tobacco)
  • Colorado Claro: medium brown
  • Colorado: very distinct reddish brown
  • Colorado Maduro: darker brown
  • Maduro: very dark brown or black (reminds me of the color of coffee beans)
  • Oscuro: very black, sometimes they look oily, and has become popular since around 2000 (also called a Double Maduro)

And of course, someone’s got to throw a curve ball into the mix! Some cigar makers use a completely separate standard.

  • American Market Selection: same as a Double Claro
  • English Market Selection: usually Colorado Claro but it can be used to describe any color between Double Claro and Maduro
  • Spanish Market Selection: same as a Maduro or Oscuro

Usually the lighter the wrapper, the dryness you’ll taste; and the darker the wrapper, the sweeter you’ll taste.

The filler is all the good stuff in the middle. Fillers have different strengths and are usually blended together to give the smoker a unique flavor. A lot of makers take pride in creating the perfect blend to give their customers the smoothest and best tasting smoke. The flavor of the filler is mostly determined on where it’s taken from the leaf. The Volado has the least amount of flavor and is taken from the bottom of the leaf. The Seco has the most middle ground flavor, probably because it’s taken from the middle of the leaf ;). The Ligero is the strongest flavor and is taken from the top of the leaf. Basically, the more sun a part of the leaf gets, the stronger it’s flavor is going to be. Ligero is always folded into the middle of the filler because it has a really high burn temperature so it burns very slowly.

Fillers come in all sizes. The longer the filler, the more whole part of the leaf was used and the higher the quality. Short filler is generally referred to as “mixed” and has stems, chopped leaves and other bits and pieces put into it. Lately, makers have been using what they call medium filler. Medium filler uses larger pieces than the short, but without the stems, bits and pieces.

The last bit of tobacco used in a cigar is the binder. These are the more elastic type leaves used to hold all the filler together. Basically if a wrapper has too many holes, veins, blemishes or anything else which isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it gets used as a binder.

Now we can start getting to the good stuff!!

 

 

~Cigar and Heels

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It’s just some leaves you light on fire right?

Wrong!

I’ve got a huge list of things to learn about cigars and smoking them. Different ring sizes (apparently this has nothing to do with diamonds) shapes, lengths, cutters, punches, matches, cedar spills and a whole lot more. Sometimes it’s enough to make my head spin! I figured I’d start with the basics and move up from there.

  • So the basics…what is a cigar?

A cigar is a tightly-rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco. To me this sounds almost like a cigarette, except it’s a completely different type of tobacco and there seems to be a lot more care put into the making of a cigar. The tobacco is only grown in certain parts of the world and isn’t manufactured in some large plant next to 20 other types of tobacco for other cigars. Yes there are low quality cigars that are machine-made but because of what goes into them, I’d take a hand rolled cigar any day of the week over that.

  • Okay, how are they made?

Tobacco leaves are harvested and aged by using and shade to reduce the sugar and water content without causing the large leaves to rot. Curing, the first stage, takes between 25 and 45 days and differs based upon climate conditions and the construction of the location where the harvested tobacco is stored. Curing processes are changed based on the type of tobacco, and the desired color of the leaf. Fermentation, the second stage, is to help the leaf dry slowly. Temperature and humidity are controlled to make sure the leaf ferments without rotting or decaying. This is where the flavor, burning, and aromas are primarily brought out in the leaf.

Once the leaves have matured, they are sorted into two categories; filler or wrapper based on their appearance and quality. When this happens, the leaves are almost constantly moistened and handled carefully to make sure each leaf is used in the best way according to its individual qualities. The leaf will continue to be baled, inspected, un-baled, re-inspected, and baled again as it continues to mature. When the leaf has matured according to the manufacturer’s specifications, then it will be used to make a cigar.

Hand Rolling a Cigar

Quality cigars are still hand-rolled. An experienced cigar-roller can make hundreds of very good, almost identical, cigars per day. They keep the tobacco moist (especially the    wrapper) and use crescent-shaped knives, called chavetas, to make the filler and wrapper leaves. After the cigars are rolled, they are put in wooden forms to dry and their uncapped ends are cut to the same size. At this point, the cigar is done! They can be kept and aged for decades so long as they stay cool and humid.

Some cigars use different types of tobacco for the filler and the wrapper. Long filler cigars are a higher quality cigar because they use long leaves throughout. These cigars also a “binder” leaf, between the filler and outer wrapper. This means the makers get to use more attractive leaves for the wrapper. High-quality cigars almost always blended varieties of tobacco.

Machine-made cigars use chopped tobacco leaves for the filler, and long leaves or a type of “paper” made from tobacco pulp for the wrapper which binds the cigar together. This changes how the cigar burns, which is the main reason I mentioned I’d take a hand-rolled over machine-rolled cigar any day of the week!

Until the next one…Light ‘em up!

~Cigar and Heels

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Is it just me?

So I went to my first cigar bar about a week ago. Online it was described to be one of the best cigar bars in my local area with nice seating, a great selection of scotch and a huge humidor. Having never been before, I assumed cigar bars were a bit more upscale in the patrons that what I walked in to. Not only was I one of two females in the bar, but I was completely over dressed. Which is saying a lot for me considering I was somewhat dressed down in only jeans, heels and a nice top. I looked around and noticed that most of the people here were males at least 15+ years older than me and very casually dressed. Mostly jeans or shorts and t-shirts.

I browsed through the overwhelming selection (at least to me) of cigars in a massive humidor and finally selected the Brickhouse that had been suggested to me.  I’ve always been partial to my Fuente Hemingway and haven’t really ventured much beyond that. What can I say? I find something I like and I stick with it. Plus most of the cigars I’ve tried that have been recommended to me have been a bit too spicy for my taste. It was pointed out to me that the darker the wrapper, most likely, the spicier the cigar. Something I had no clue about, I just thought the cigar wrapping was about aesthetics. My partner in crime this night chose one of his favorites, a Rocky Patel. We headed to the bar where much to my delight they had the full line up of my favorite Scotch – Balvenie. I ordered a 15 year single malt and he had a tasty micro-brew. We found seating in a corner close to the bar and sank into the dark leather chairs.

After spending just about two hours there, I realized I knew very little to nothing about cigars.  I knew I liked smoking them from time to time with a glass of scotch, but beyond that, nothing.  This past week I’ve been pondering on that and decided to start this blog right here.  More importantly, is it just me or is the art of enjoying a cigar completely lost in the younger generations? For me cigar smoking was always something my dad or grandpa did with their friends playing poker on a Friday  night. I think maybe there’s a roadblock in the minds of  those under 30’s out there about enjoying a cigar and relaxing any night of the week. So my purpose here is two-fold; my journey about  learning the cigar world, and how can we change the cigar smoker’s image and make it more appealing to everyone of all ages?

 

So here’s to new experiences!

 

~Cigar and Heels

 

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