Cigars for Beginners | Cigars 101 Guide

July 26, 2018

Whether it’s your first time smoking a cigar or you have been smoking stogies for years, learning about cigars can be exciting. From casual cigar smoking tips to steps to help you become a more savvy cigar connoisseur, this helpful guide includes details on cigar strengths, various wrapper flavors and flavor profiles, understanding ring gauges, cigar shapes and sizes, and other details to increase your cigar knowledge.

Note: We’ve included several cigar samples in different strengths to help you increase your palette.

How to Pick Cigars

When picking cigars, you can select them by strength, shape, ring, length, wrappers, binders, fillers, and origin, which we’ll explore in-depth:


A cigar’s strength is based on intensity, not shape or size and individual to your particular tastes. When smoking and tasting cigars, experiment with different cigar brands to find the best cigar brands. They might be mild, medium, or full-bodied. If a cigar tastes too strong, switch to a milder strength. If it’s too sweet, try one that has a different wrapper and binder.


Cigars come in different shapes and can be fat, skinny, long, or short, but the size doesn’t determine the strength. Stogies can be sweet or strong, thin cigarillos can be mild or intense. Larger cigars are for longer smokes, while shorter or thinner cigars might last 30-45 minutes.

Ring Gauge

A cigar’s ring gauge is the distance around the circular part of the cigar, (its diameter), which is 64ths of an inch. Cigar’s in the US and U.K. are measured in inches. In other parts of the world, they use centimeters. To measure a cigar, a 42-ring gauge means its diameter is 42/64.


Cigar lengths can include Parejos which are straight-sided and can include:

  • Coronas 5.5-6″
  • Petit Coronas 4.5″
  • Churchills 7″
  • Robustos 4.75-5.5″
  • Corona Gordas 5.5-8.6″
  • Double Coronas 7.5-8.5″
  • Pantelas 5-7.5″
  • Lonsdales 6.5″

Figurados aren’t straight in shape and can include:

  • Pyramids 6-7″
  • Belicosos 5-5.5″
  • Torpedos 6-7″
  • Perfectos 4.5-9″
  • Culebras 5-6″
  • Diademas 8.5″+

Wrappers, Binders, and Fillers

Examine a cigar’s wrapper. This isn’t the label, but the leaves which range from the palest green color (mild) to a dark brown or black (strong).

Wrapper colors can be:

  • Double Claro or Candela (green)
  • Claro (tan)
  • Colorado Claro (light brown/red)
  • Colorado (medium brown)
  • Colorado Maduro (dark brown)
  • Maduro (red brown/black)
  • Oscuro (black)

In addition to wrappers, cigars include fillers (inner portion) and binders (course layers to hold moisture content). These can include leaves from different countries.


Cigars are made from tobacco leaves. They might be grown in Columbia, Honduras, Cuba, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and other locations with warm tropical climates where tobacco leaves grow.

A Cigar’s Freshness

Cigars should be firm, but not crackling when squeezed which means they’re stale and dried out. Store cigars in a humidor to keep them fresh.

Flavor Profiles and Strengths

Just like wine drinkers detect flavor components like flowers or fruit in wine, cigar smokers pick up flavor components. Flavors and aromas tend to be nutty, coffee, peppery, leathery, woodsy, chocolate, floral, or herbal, while cigar strengths can be mild-, medium-, or full-bodied.

Mild Cigars

Recommended for newer cigar smokers, mild cigars aren’t overpowering.

They can include:

Medium-Bodied Cigars

Medium-bodied cigars may have more spice and are ideal for aficionados. They pair nicely with rum.

Examples include:

Medium- and Full-Bodied Cigars

Medium- and full-bodied cigars are stronger and spicier. These can be paired with ports, darker rums, or coffee.

A few examples include:

Learning about cigars helps increase your flavor profile and palette. Try a cigar sampler that can be purchased right here at JR Cigars. JR Cigars specializes in the finest premium cigars deals and you can buy cigars online for your upcoming events or cigar tastings with friends.



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