Select a size suitable for the available smoking time. Examine the cigar using all your senses: smell, appearance and feel. If you are buying and if anything at all looks wrong, try something else. If it is one of your own cigars, reappraise your storage conditions. You will gradually develop a sense for this, it really can’t be taught.

Cigar Strength

Whilst individual brands have an accepted strength / flavour rating, strengths and blends of individual cigars vary within the brand.

Habanos rate their cigars using a single term, which encompasses flavour, body and strength. Their current brand ratings are as follows.

Mild (or Light)Mild to MediumMediumMedium to FullFull
FonsecaEl Rey del MundoCohiba – SigloCohiba – ClassicBolivar
Hoyo de MonterreyH. UpmannFlor de CanoCohiba – MaduroCohiba – Behike
Montecristo – OpenPor LarrañagaLa Gloria CubanaCuabaPartagás
Quai d’OrsaySan CristobalPunchDiplomaticosRamon Allones
Rafael GonzalezQuinteroJose L PiedraSaint Luis Rey
Romeo y JulietaJuan LopezVegueros – old
Sancho PanzaMontecristo
TrinidadVegas Robaina
Vegueros – new

Smokers tend to separate these characteristics:

  • flavour (intensity of taste or aroma – nose)
  • body (heaviness or lightness – mouth)
  • strength (nicotine kick – head).

Not all users use these terms in the same sense, contributing to some confusion and differing opinions.

Some of the more common flavours one can observe while smoking a cigar include: spice, cocoa or chocolate, peat, moss, earth, coffee, leather, grass, bean, nut, wood, and berry.


The cigar should be cut just inside the cap, leaving enough cap on to prevent the wrapper from unravelling. On figurados, cut about 5mm from the tip. The easiest method is to use either a single or double sided guillotine cutter. Some prefer a sharp knife or a punch cutter. Definitely don’t poke a hole in the end.


To light the cigar, a gas butane lighter (which has an odourless flame) is recommended. Liquid fuel lighters, wax candles and matches are not recommended.

Char the end of the cigar evenly, then place the cigar in your mouth and slowly draw-in until the cigar is well lit, rotating the cigar as necessary. Don’t hurry this process as a well lit cigar will respond with even burning.

If relighting is necessary, this is not a problem if carried out immediately. If a cigar is left for any period, it can lose flavour and become bitter.


Enjoy the cigar; do not rush things. Much of the smoking pleasure is taking the time-out to enjoy.

Don’t inhale like a cigarette; just draw in the smoke and enjoy the flavour and aromas.

Cigars are commonly discarded around the three-quarter mark. More or less is an indication of your enjoyment of the cigar. If you burn your fingers you have had a good cigar.


where possible, leave you cigar to safely burn out, as cigars naturally self-extinguish within one or two minutes. This avoids the “butting-out” smell and is a fitting end to your Cuban.

Grading your Cigar

after smoking your cigar, you may wish to “grade” it. Typical grading scales are:

100 Point Grading0 – 5 Point Grading1 – 9 GradingDescriptive Grading
95 – 10059Classic
90 – 9448Outstanding
85 – 8937Excellent
80 – 8436Very Good
75 – 7925Good
70 – 7424Average
60 – 6913Below average
< 6002Poor
< 6001Unsmokable


Cigars are divided into two basic forms:


Straight cigars are known as Parejos. Examples are Robusto, Churchill, Corona, Lonsdale, Panetela and Cigarillo. Parejos can have round, conical or pigtail heads.


Fancy cigars are known as Figurados.
Examples are Perfecto, Pyramid and Culebra.

Box Pressed Cigars

All cigars in standard Dress boxes
(except for Tubos and cedar-wrapped cigars) are boxed pressed.
The degree of box pressing can vary from negligible to extreme.
No other packaging contains box pressed cigars.

Cigar Sizes

Cuban cigars sizes are quoted by their ring size (diameter) and their length.

Ring Size

The ring size of a cigar is the cigar’s diameter, quoted as the number of sixty-fourths of an inch. For example, a ring size of 50 represents 50/64 of an inch. Perfectos are measured at their thickest point.

Ring Gauge

Cuban cigars are divided into three gauge groups. The gauge of a cigar is an indication of its ring size. The common Cuban term is shown first in the following table.

These groups are becoming a bit lopsided with the trend to thicker cigars.

Gauge Ring Size

GaugeRing Size
Heavy (thick)46 & up
Standard (medium)40 – 45
Slender (thin)up to 39

Metric Diameters

Metric diameters, while sometimes quoted, are not in general use. The following conversion chart can be used if this information is required.



Cigar lengths are produced to a metric dimension (mm). For convenience, the lengths (in inches) have been added to appropriate sections of this website.

When checking the size of cigars, allow a minus 2-4mm tolerance, as cigars shrink after production.


while there is a schedule of cigar weights issued by HSA, the weight of a cigar cannot be used to test authenticity. Individual weights vary enormously due to hand roll variation and (to a lesser extent) their moisture content.

The official cigar weights tend to be on the low side of actual cigar weights.

Partial List of Official Cigar Weights

Cigar Names

Cigars are described using three different names.

Market or Commercial Name – Vitola de Salida

This is the name that the cigar is sold under. This name appears on price lists and the cigar packaging. It is a specific name and identifies a single unique cigar.

For example, Cohiba Lanceros is a Market name.

Factory Name – Vitola de Galera

This is the name used by the factory to define a specific cigar type or “vitola” (that is, the ring size, length, shape and cap finish). This name might appear on catalogue lists but it does not appear on the cigar box packaging.

In the above example of the Cohiba Lanceros, its factory name is Laguito No.1, which has a unique size of 38 x 192. This vitola i s also a Parejos (straight cigar) and has a “pig-tail” cap.

There are a number of cigars made in this Vitola de Galera that are sold under different market names (Vitola de Salidas).

Complete List of Factory Names

Common Name

This is the common (or slang) name for the cigar and is used in general terms to identify a particular group of cigars with a similar shape, ring size and length. This name is not used by the factory.

In the above example, the Cohiba Lanceros is commonly called a Long Panetela. There are many cigars that fall within this common name description.

However, not everyone agrees what each common name exactly means. In Paul Garmirian’s 1990 publication, only a single Robusto is listed. He calls a longer version of the Robusto “a Toro”; a common term used in USA, but not used to describe a Cuban cigar.

In this website, Robustos and Perfectos have been further subdivided.

In some older publications or in different areas of the world, the common names can vary.

Using these Names

These terms are often loosely used and can cause confusion. Sometimes a specific cigar adds to this confusion.

For example in the Cohiba brand, there is a Cohiba Robustos. It has a factory name Robustos and has a common name Robusto. One needs to be clear on which term is being used. In this website, all three names are shown.