Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

5 types of cigars you need to know about

A reference guide of stogies


If you’ve never really enjoyed a cigar, maybe it’s not you; it’s the cigars themselves — perhaps you just haven’t found the right cigar for your pleasure. It’s a given that the aroma and flavor of a cigar are primarily derived from the tobacco used to make it, both the filling and the wrapper. But cigar type, meaning shape and size, also significantly impacts how a stogie tastes and smells, not to mention how its profile changes during the smoking process.

Those huge cigars passed out at bachelor parties may start smooth, but can end up heavy and harsh as they burn down. Likewise, a slender cigarillo may burn hot and intense from the start: Size and shape don’t play a direct role in how the cigar will taste or how mellow or potent it will be, but they do dictate the smoke time and, depending on the tobacco used, how the cigar will change while burning down.

All you need to know going in is that cigar size is technically called “vitola.” Vitola refers to the length and thickness of a cigar, with length measured in inches and thickness in ring gauge, which equates to 64ths of an inch. So a 64-ring gauge cigar? That’s an inch thick, which is ridiculously thick, by the way.

Cigars come in various sizes, from short and stubby to long and thin. The size of the cigar will affect the length of time it takes to smoke and the amount of nicotine you will consume. Cigars also come in a variety of strengths, from mild to intense. The cigar’s strength will affect the flavor’s intensity and the amount of nicotine you will consume.

Even if you smoke cigars on rare occasions — or even if you never smoke but want to be in the know, whether for gifting or general knowledge — you should know about these five types of cigars.

Romeo Y Julieta Reserve is a Robusto cigar.
Romeo Y Julieta Reserve

The cigar types you need to know

Robusto — Romeo Y Julieta Reserve

The robust is the most popular size of cigar in America today. For a good reason: these cigars are small enough to be enjoyed in a half hour to 45 minutes, yet large enough for a complex flavor profile that develops during the smoking — a typical robust measures between 4.75 to 5.5 inches, with a ring gauge usually around 50. The Romeo y Julieta Robusto is a fantastic entry-point cigar with a medium body and profile notes ranging from toasted nuts to spiced coffee to seasoned leather. They are also a great price.

Highclere Castle Edwardian is a Corona cigar type.
Highclere Castle Edwardian

Corona — Highclere Castle Edwardian

When you picture a cigar, it probably looks like a corona. Famous worldwide, these typically 5.5-inch cigars have a 42-ring gauge. They are an excellent balance of full size without requiring a two-hour commitment and without an overly harsh build-up of tar, yet with plenty of flavor intensity due to the relatively narrow diameter. Highclere Castle Edwardian coronas are rich yet mellow, with creamy caramel notes and a gentle finish.

Montecristo White is a Toro cigar.

Toro — Montecristo White

Sometimes called a corona gorda, the toro is fast becoming a popular cigar size. At 6 inches long and with a stout 50-plus-sized ring gauge, these are cigars meant to be savored slowly. The flavor profile changes as you smoke one, and in the case of the Montecristo White Toro, that flavor involves a medium body and a perfect draw that delivers a gently toasted profile.

This Joya de Nicaragua Antano is a Panatela or Lancera type of cigar.
Joya de Nicaragua

Panatela/Lancera — Joya de Nicaragua Antano

The terms “lancero” and “panatela” both refer to the same cigar, an elegant shape, and size usually at least 6 inches long — often 7 inches — and has a narrow ring gauge between 34 and 38. They can be delightfully mellow or quite robust depending on the tobacco chosen, which in the case of the Joya de Nicaragua Antano Lancero, is pure Nicaraguan tobacco that produces a rich, bold, peppery profile.

Cohiba Dominican is a Churchill cigar type.

Churchill — Cohiba Dominican

Similar to the persona of the famed British Prime Minister for whom they are named, Churchill cigars are big. Like usually 7 inches long and with a 50-ring gauge. This is your hour-plus cigar, where you can count on a big flavor that changes during the long smoking session. These mighty Cohibas have leather, coffee, spice, and cedar notes derived from proper storage.

Man holding a Cuban cigar
silaszindel / Shutterstock

What about Cuban cigars?

When you hear about the gold standard of cigars, you often hear about Cuban cigars. Perhaps you’ve even tried one when you were on vacation in the islands. They’re considered among the best cigars in the world because Cuba has the perfect soil for growing the best tobacco, as well as the best wrapper leaves. Unfortunately, you can’t get them anywhere in the U.S., and they have been illegal since the height of the Cold War.

In 1962, the U.S. imposed a trade embargo on all Cuban imports, and that embargo still exists today, so it is illegal to sell Cuban cigars in the U.S. And don’t think about a loophole, even if you’re on vacation and buy the cigars legally in another country — it is illegal to bring them into the U.S. While the ban on Cuban products was slightly loosened in 2020, Cuban-made tobacco and alcohol products (sorry rum fans) are still illegal.

So if you want to experience a Cuban cigar, you need to plan a vacation out of the country, and if you don’t like beach destinations, don’t worry, Cuban cigars are legal in Canada as well.

So next time you’re on a vacation, enjoy a nice Cuban cigar; just don’t try to bring them home.

Editors' Recommendations

Nate Swanner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
How long should you let new cigars rest in a humidor?
Cigar humidor

Looking at those beautiful, oily cigars you've just unboxed or unwrapped, the calling to light up is real. I get it. I always want to smoke my cigars right away, too. But you shouldn't. Mail day is always exciting after you've ordered a slew of new cigars. When they arrive, the real fun begins. You'll probably need to organize your humidor to make the new sticks fit or arrange them for optimal humidification. As you're handling them, it's difficult to resist the temptation to crack open the cellophane or boxes and smoke one right away. While you can do that in most cases, I would recommend against it. Depending on where those cigars came from, where you live, and how they traveled, they might need a little time to rest in a humidor. They'll need to replenish some humidity and moisture or dry out a little.
How long should you let your new cigars rest?

When you put cigars in a humidor, especially one that's filled, they'll soak up and release humidity over time until they reach the average RH (relative humidity) that you have set inside your humidor. If you have a device like a that does this automatically, it will produce moisture and humidity to keep the levels optimal. You can also achieve the same thing with in smaller humidors, which release and soak up the humidity to match the levels on the label. Boveda packs come in a range of RH levels, from the low to mid-60s to the mid-70s.

Read more
Reacher season 3: Everything we know so far
Get up to date on Reacher season 3!
Alan Ritchson in Reacher.

The era of Jack Ryan may be over, but Reacher is carrying on as one of the best shows on Amazon Prime Video. This action thriller is based upon Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, which previously featured Tom Cruise in the leading role of two different movies. But for Prime Video, Alan Ritchson has stepped into the role of Jack Reacher, a former member of the United States Army Military Police Corps who drifts from town to town and takes justice into his own hands when the local law enforcement isn't enough.

Prime Video didn't waste any time before renewing Reacher for a third season last year. And while new episodes are still several months away, we're sharing everything we know about Reacher season 3.
Which Reacher novel will season 3 be based on?

Read more
The Night Agent season 2: Everything we know so far
We'll get you ready for The Night Agent season 2!
Luciane Buchanan and Gabriel Basso in The Night Agent.

The Night Agent may not be everyone's choice to be among the best shows on Netflix, but it's in the top ten for us! The Shield creator Shawn Ryan adapted Matthew Quirk's spy action thriller, The Night Agent, for Netflix in 2023, and it proved to be a hit out of the gate. By Netflix's internal metrics, it's the sixth-highest viewed series in the history of the platform.

Those kind of numbers mean that a second season was inevitable, and Netflix made it official just over a week after The Night Agent premiered. Since the series is back in production, the details about what's coming up on the show have started to trickle out. To help you stay on top of this series, here's everything we know about The Night Agent season 2.
What is The Night Agent about?

Read more