Those new to cigars might find the string of numbers on a box confusing or puzzling.
Despite the many descriptive names, such as Corona or Double Corona, the names and measurements don’t match the names from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some brands create Coronas much longer than or with a girth greater than the standard measure.
For example, going by the names, you’d probably expect a Double Corona to either offer double the length or double the girth of a Corona, but it does not. A Corona measures between 5.25 and 6.5 inches with a ring gauge of 42 to 44, while a Double Corona measures 6.75 inches in length with a ring gauge of 49.
So, although names like Corona and Double Corona sound romantic, they don’t describe the size and don’t mean much. Sizes of cigar range within their descriptive names, so you must study length and ring gauge to choose your smokes.
What is a Cigar Ring Gauge?
A cigar ring gauge is a measurement of a fraction of its diameter. Coupled with length, it determines the cigar’s construction, style, and burn. The cigar’s ring equals 1/64 of an inch in diameter, so a cigar with a 40-ring refers to one that measures 40/64 of an inch.
Industry standards determine the typical girths of cigars. If you want to roll your own cigars, purchasing a cigar ring gauge guide or cigar ring gauge tool ensures that you roll the cigar to the correct girth. The completist designs of these guides offer the measures for the most common 12 cigar ring sizes.
Similar to a pasta measure, these gadgets make rolling easier. The nicer designs come in wood, while the least costly ones come in plastic.
The American Influence on Ring Gauges
About nine standard sizes exist for ring gauges, but decades ago, when Cuba remained open to the US, Cuban cigars featured a ring gauge that signified the brand’s tribal knowledge. At this time, smokers favored small cigars like Lanceros or Petit Coronas. A big cigar featured a 50-ring, but now a big cigar measures about an inch thick.
Americans enjoyed a nice, fat Rothschild and various sizes, so the selection grew. The 50-ring became more common, and thicker cigars, including those with 58- or 60-ring thickness sprang up.
Manufacturers Vary Their Designs
One brand’s Robusto and another brand’s may differ by a few rings. So, forget the names like Salomon, Perfecto, Robusto, or Churchill. The ring gauge measurement will vary, so choose the numeric size and which measures provide you with the desired cigar flavor. Here’s a cigar size chart you can also refer to.
Ring Gauges for Common Cigar Shapes
|Cigar Size/Style||Length in Inches||Ring Gauge|
|Corona||5.25 – 6.5||42 – 44|
Of course, cigar smokers choose favorites from among those. Some of the most popular ring gauges don’t come in standard sizes. Their popularity has made them easy to find, but their ring gauge varies widely. You might search out these cigars to try them since they’ve become famous. They may have become favorites, but you’ll still find it tougher to locate a:
- Belicoso, typically 6 to 6.5 inches in length with a 48 to 54-ring gauge,
- Petite Belicoso, typically 5 to 5.25 inches in length with a 40 to 42-ring gauge,
- Gigante, Presidente, typically 8 to 10 inches in length with a 52 to 64 ring gauge.
Making a New Cigar
Because ring gauge and length affect the flavor, most cigar makers begin with a Corona when designing a new line of cigars. This cigar uses a modest-sized ring gauge and medium length. (think of it as the medium size of cigars if such a thing exists)
Once the manufacturer perfects the flavor of their new line’s Corona, they begin to scale the cigar size. Typically, the size increases, but sometimes, they scale down almost to a cigarillo size.
Although each will use the same tobacco, their taste differs because the thicker ring gauges burn cooler, while thinner cigars burn hotter. The closer you come to the nub, the harsher the flavor becomes with a lighter cigar.
The ring gauge also affects the ratio of filler tobacco to the wrapper leaf. This also contributes to the cigar’s flavor. Wrappers influence the flavor of a thinner cigar more than one with a thick ring gauge. The same tobacco blend tastes different in a thick cigar than in a thin one.
Getting Started with Cigars
While you try various cigars to find the ideal smoke for you, try starting with a length between five to six inches with a ring gauge of 42 to 44. Essentially, this describes many brands’ Coronas.
Choose a cigar that uses a flavor that appeals to you, such as a tobacco leaf infused with chocolate overtones or one with cinnamon or a nutty flavor.
Starting with a classic length and ring gauge ensures you won’t experience too hot or too cool of a smoke. This leaves you to focus on tobacco flavor and body – mild, medium, or full.
The Joy of Hand Rolling Cigars
While machine-made cigars will likely provide a more exact ring gauge, you may find a deeper taste from the hand-rolled variety. Of course, you may want to roll your own, an experience in and of itself. That’s when you need a cigar ring gauge tool to make it easier to measure in 64ths of an inch.
Rolling your own lets you experiment with ring gauge sizes and how thicker versus thinner affects your favorite tobacco. You can blend your own tobacco and add flavorings by rolling your own, too. Choosing your own wrappers lets you truly customize and develop your favorite cigars.
The learning experience provided by rolling your own cigars can help you learn what you love about cigars. It can also help you develop your favorite ring size and length choices quicker to improve your smoking experience.