As you likely know, cigars have two dimensions that are generally listed in the sales details. Length is given in inches such as 5.5 or 5 ½. Centimeters may be used too, but not generally on cigars sold in the U.S. At least not as the only measurement of length.
The diameter is given in 64ths of an inch and is called the ring gauge. A stogie with a ring gauge of 48, for example, is ¾” in diameter.
Most seasoned smokers suggest that a ring gauge of 47-50 is the most smokable. It’s comfortable in the hand and offers enough width to get a good draw. Sizes with ring gauges in this range include Rothschild, toro, Churchill, gran corona, robusto and presidente.
The greater the width, the more intense the smoke and flavor will be because more tobacco is burning with each draw. Narrower cigars are not quite as intense, and you may have to draw harder or longer to get the amount of smoke you want. One caution is that drawing hard on a cigar may cause it to heat up. This will negatively affect the flavor and may simply make the stick uncomfortably hot.
These are generalizations, but hold true for most cigars.
If you’re the type of person who likes big, bold and even a bit wild, then opt for larger ring gauges. They can be as large as 60. The size of the Nub 460 F is 4x60. The Fuente BBMF is just that at 6.5x60.
Wider sizes and their general ring gauge include toro grande at 52, double corona at 50-52, torpedo at 52 and gordo at 60.
If you enjoy a mellower smoke with more controlled draws, then a 48 ring gauge or less will likely suit your style. Some tasty options here include the Alec Bradley Pryme 300C at 7x48, the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur 1066 King Arthur at 6.2x45 and the Acid Blondie at 4x38.
Smaller sizes and their ring gauges include panatela at 38, petit corona at 42 and corona grande at 42 also. The difference in the corona and corona grande is the length.
The next thing to consider is how long the cigar will last. Of course, the volume of tobacco increases as length and width increase. So, once you’ve decided generally what ring gauge you prefer, you’ll need to choose a cigar for the occasion that will give you the length of smoke you want.
If you’re sitting on the deck on a summer evening with nothing to do but enjoy the landscape and premium cigar alongside your favorite beverage, than a longer cigar is a good choice. The same holds true for a round of golf or an afternoon of fishing.
When selecting a cigar for the 30-minute commute home from work or for after dinner when you need to leave in 45 minutes for a meeting, then a shorter cigar will be preferred. The key is to have the cigar end about the same time the time you have to enjoy it runs out.