Tobacconist University
Tobacco College

Tobacco College: Cigar Shapes & Sizes

American Vitolas
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Cigar Ring Gauge
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Cuban Vitolas
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In the American market the length of a cigar is measured in inches (") and the diameter (rg) is measured in 64ths of an inch ("). The Robusto format/vitola generally measures 5" x 50rg, the standard Churchill size is 7" x 48rg, and a Corona is 5 1/4" x 44rg; but all of these generalizations vary from one manufacturer to another.

In Cuba, a brand such as Montecristo will have two vitola names for a cigar, one for the factory (vitola de galera) and another for the marketplace (vitola de salida). For example, the Montecristo A (vitola de salida) is a Gran Corona vitola de galera, and Montecristo No. 4 (vitola de salida) is a Marevas vitola de galera.

The shape of a cigar will affect how it smokes. Thinner cigars will provide less smoke per toke, and therefore will taste lighter if smoked at the proper pace. If a cigar, regardless of ring gauge (rg), is smoked too quickly, it will burn "hot" and the flavors will not be pronounced properly. Thinner cigars may tend to smoke hot, either because they are rolled too tight, or because they are smoked too quickly. When properly rolled and smoked, thinner cigars can be light and subtle delicacies which emphasize the flavor of the wrapper. Thicker cigars will contain more fillers, and the potential for a broader range of flavor. Thicker cigars will also tend to smoke cooler and produce a greater volume of smoke per toke. A thick cigar can have a fuller body and more complexity than its thinner siblings.

Size & Blend Technique

Great cigar makers blend a cigar so that the flavors will develop as you smoke it. The flavor at the beginning of a cigar will change as it is smoked. Many cigar makers like to build flavors towards the center and finish smooth, while others prefer to finish strong. The possibilities are a function of how the filler leaves are placed in the cigar as well as how the cigar is shaped. Some cigar makers attempt to make every vitola 'taste' the same within in the brand. While others try to blend each vitola individually so the blend is accentuated and paired with the particular size and shape: this means a robusto could be blended to be full and robust while a lancero may be light and milder.

There is a shape, size and blend for every moment and every mood. Ultimately, each vitola should convey something unique about the tobacco blend for a particular brand.

For MORE information regarding Figurado Lengths and Shapes: Figurado Geometry.


Great tobacco has a natural combustion rate at which it must burn to convey its most delicate flavors. If smoked "too hot", tobacco will taste acrid and one dimensional; heat will coat the palate and the intricate blend of aroma and flavor will be lost. To determine the proper rate of smoking, let the ash be your guide. A cigar smoked at the proper rate will release its ash and leave a “flat” foot and ember behind. A cigar that is “too hot” will leave behind a pointy ember after the ash has fallen. The pronounced ember is a sign that the cigar is not burning evenly and therefore, too hot. Cigars can burn too hot because:
  • the user is smoking too fast
  • the cigar is rolled too tight, or poorly
  • the filler leaves were not arranged/placed properly
Cigar Shapes: Smoking Too Hot

Certified R&D Tobacconists: United States

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Carlos Molina, CRTHabana Port Cigar Merchants
Metarie, LA - United States
(503) 324-6462

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Raymond Noriega, CRTStag Tobacconist (Stag of Colorado Ltd.)
Colorado Springs, CO - United States
(719) 633-0669

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Ryan Burke, CRTTwins Smoke Shop
Londonderry, NH - United States

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