Like we discussed in this post referencing how different sizes taste and perform, size does matter. The blanket disclaimers about cigars being personal and subjective apply here, but let’s try and take it a bit further and steer novice cigar smokers towards a convenient experience. For more information about choosing the right cigar(s) for beginners click here.
Cool as a Cucumber
If you’ve never smoked a cigar before, the name of the game is to enjoy the taste without overheating the tobacco. If you keep the cigar cool, it will reward you with pleasant flavors and easier maintenance. Conversely, smoking the cigar too fast or letting it go out often and relighting it will force the tobacco to burn hotter than is desirable. The results of this are a miserable experience.
It’s for this reason that we often look to the Robusto and Toro sizes for beginners. These sizes have a larger ring gauge and burn cooler by design, taking away some of the experience necessary to enjoy them. Minute for minute, the Toro size provides the coolest smoke but may have too much nicotine for new smokers.
If we were to take a poll, we’d probably find that most of us started with Robustos and Toros way back when. If you’re absolutely comfortable walking away from a cigar early as precaution, Toros are the way to go. If you know that you need the satisfaction of finishing a cigar, Robustos are a very close second. In most cases, the robusto has very similar dimensions but will be roughly an inch shorter.
Robusto and Toro are cigar vitolas, or sizes, that convey certain things. This means that they’ll usually be parejo shaped, or what you’d consider a traditional cigar to look like (round, capped head and relatively straight). Figurado shapes like the Torpedo, Salomon, and others are almost always identified as such by their name.
There are, however, finishing touches that can be placed on cigars that might be confusing at first. These flourishes usually present themselves in the head or foot of the cigar, such as flat caps, fantail caps, shaggy feet, closed feet, etc.
If you feel comfortable asking your Tobacconist questions about these differences, please feel free to do so! Tobacconists love to share their knowledge of cigars in general, and particularly so to new smokers.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking those questions, it’s best to stick with the Plain Jane, traditional parejo shape minus the frills. This will minimize the opportunity to get confused somewhere in the process.
Burn to Learn
We were all new to the game at one point, and there are certain things that you can only learn by experience. After you’ve cut your teeth on standard vitolas like Robusto and Toro, investing time and money into other sizes will pay dividends in your future.
Each vitola is a unique expression of the blender’s intent and can change for every cigar. Like we’ve discussed in the past, it’s always a good idea to go into each cigar with an open mind and try several different sizes before settling on a favorite.
Tell Us! Which cigar size did YOU prefer early on?