Editor’s note: Famous Smoke Shop has made some amazing cigar tools like the Beginner’s Guide, the flavor wheel, and pairings. Head to their website to download the PDF of the ring gauge tool. The following content is from their website.
The cigar ring gauge tool is another way for cigar lovers to learn about the cigars they enjoy. Have you ever seen a cigar online or in a catalog and looked at the dimensions printed on the page but weren’t sure that the cigar would fall into your “sweet spot” of the sizes you prefer? And cigar ring gauges are not set in stone — a Robusto can be anywhere from a 49 to a 54 ring gauge (or RG), depending on who makes it and what name the manufacturer gives it. That’s where a cigar ring gauge tool can help anyone from an experienced smoker to a beginner smoker.
Ring gauge is a critical part of the smoking experience: larger and thicker cigar ring gauges tend to burn cooler; thinner ring gauges can burn hot, if you draw deeper on the cigar. But the biggest difference in cigar ring gauges is flavor. Smaller cigars contain less filler tobaccos, allowing you to sense more of the flavor and strength from the wrapper leaf. Larger ring gauge cigars display more of the flavors that the binder and filler tobaccos have to offer. This is where experimenting pays off: you may say you
only smoke Toros, but you might find that you love a heartier blend Churchill but enjoy the profile of another brand’s Rothschild just as much. These differences may even help you along the way when it come to making cigar recommendations or cigar pairings.
Cigar lengths and ring gauges are represented by (length) x (ring gauge). In the case of a 7 x 48 Churchill, the cigar’s length is 7 inches; the ring gauge is represented as fractions of an inch, where an inch is 64/64ths. Here, this Churchill is 48/64ths of 1 inch. The inch is standard measure for cigars — meaning it’s rare to see cigar ring gauge in millimeters, even though most countries use the metric system. As for big ring gauge cigars, plenty of them go bigger than 64; some are as large as 80RG, which is about 1 3/8 inches in diameter.
How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Cigar?
There’s an old adage in cigar smoking: smoke what you have time to enjoy. But how do you choose the right cigar, if you have an hour and a half set aside? Or, if you find yourself asking, how long does it take to smoke a 5 x 50 Robusto — and will I be able to enjoy it from start to finish?
Different cigar lengths and sizes will yield different smoking times, and we choose the cigar we want to smoke based on the amount of time we have available. Ring gauge matters too, with big ring gauge cigars like Gordos and Gigantes taking much longer to smoke than Lanceros or Panatelas — even though they’re the same length. How long it takes to smoke a cigar also depends on how fast you smoke: if you’re pacing yourself (about a puff every minute or so), your cigar will burn cool and slow, and with more flavor. Smoke too fast, and your cigar could turn bitter. Use this cigar length ruler as a rough guide to help you choose the right cigar for the amount of time you’ve set aside.
Cigar Wrappers Explained: What the Color Means
The wrapper can significantly influence the overall taste and flavor of a cigar, but cigar wrapper color doesn’t always signify strength. It’s actually one of the most common misconceptions about smoking cigars: while a darker Maduro cigar wrapper might smoke with more flavor, it may not be as spicy or as strong as a Habano or Corojo leaf. The color of a cigar wrapper is a better indicator of what type of tobacco is being used, along with how the wrapper leaf was fermented and aged.
The chart below shows the range of colors, along with the generally accepted terms for these cigar wrapper types. Different types of cigar wrappers range from lighter to darker shades: Candela is quick—cured for a very mellow, grassy flavor; Claro is often found on Connecticut wrapper cigars, which tend to smoke with creamier flavors. Criollo and Cameroon wrapper cigars exhibit a top layer that’s a bit darker. The types of cigar wrappers that are darkest, like Maduro and Oscuro, are those that have undergone the longest and most intense fermentation.