When searching for a cigar, you’ll often come across the words mild, medium and full to describe the body or strength of the smoke. Body and strength are two factors which may seem somewhat interchangeable or may be mistaken for the other. While it is fairly common for a cigar’s strength and body to be the same, for example, medium body and medium strength, this is not always the case. Body and strength actually refer to different things and aren’t always the same. We take a look at the difference between the two.
What is Body?
The body of a cigar refers to the depth of its flavour – meaning how much of the flavour can be detected and tasted, and how intense these flavours are. A good way of looking at it would be to compare it to drinks. A full-bodied wine will be deeper and richer, with bolder notes and a thicker mouth-feel, whereas a mild-bodied wine will be fresh, zesty and light. Another example from the world of drinks would see a pale ale on the mild-bodied end of the spectrum, and a Scotch at the full-bodied side.
What is Strength?
The strength of a cigar is based on the nicotine content. While the term strength will give an idea of how intense the nicotine level will be in your smoke, it is something of a relative descriptor, as many factors can influence how your body reacts to nicotine. For example, you can be more or less affected by nicotine depending on when you last ate. For the most part, though, mild strength cigars won’t have much of an effect, whereas full strength cigars may give you a bit of a buzz. This can go into the negative; however, as smoking a cigar that is too strong for your body to handle at that moment can lead to nicotine sickness.
There are many misconceptions about the strength of cigars. The phrase ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ certainly applies to cigar wrappers and their strength. It has been a long-held belief that the darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar. While that used to be a fairly safe rule to follow, it doesn’t always apply to modern cigars. Although the wrapper will play a part in the strength of the cigar, most strength will come from the filler, making the colour less of an indicator.
Body and Strength
While body and strength are two different things, there are some strong correlations between them. This is due to the fact that the tobacco leaves that contain the most nicotine are also the most flavourful. Therefore, it is typical for a cigar’s strength and body to fall under the same descriptor (mild, medium, full).
When looking to buy cigars online based on their strength and body, it is important to consider what you can handle. As a beginner to cigar smoking, it is recommended to start off with a milder bodied and milder strength cigar, such as those offered by Hoyo de Monterrey, H.Upmann or San Cristobal. Jumping straight in with a strong cigar isn’t always advised, as you might not be prepared for the strength and flavour, and it might put you off cigars for good! More experienced cigar smokers will be able to handle the stronger intensity of a full-bodied and full-strength cigar, so long as they smoke correctly, without inhaling any of the smoke.