Fashions change all the time, and while we would expect this from our clothes and décor, the same can absolutely be said for our cigar preferences too. One of the most noticeable phases for cigars is the size of ring gauge. Over the years, the in-vogue cigar size has shifted, and these days we see a preference for much bigger ring gauges.
We take a look at the different ring gauge options, how ring gauge opinions have changed over the years and what sizing you should look for in a cigar.
What is a Ring Gauge?
Cigar size is determined by its length and its diameter. The diameter of the cigar is described by its ring gauge, which is measured in 1/64 inch. So, for example, a cigar with a ring gauge of 32 will be measured 32/64. In other words, that cigar would have a diameter of half an inch.
The standard ring gauge these days is typically around 50, although you will be able to find some much bigger and some much smaller.
You can find out more about how cigar sizing works in our handy guide to cigar shapes and sizes!
Ring Gauges Through the Years
Until the past thirty years or so, a long and thin cigar would have been considered the best kind. A 26 ring gauge would have been an ideal size in the past, with ring gauges rarely exceeding 40.
However, since the 90s, there has been something of a shift in opinion in the cigar world. While the change was slow to take hold, nowadays, the idea that bigger is better is very much in play when it comes to cigars. For example, while a 26 ring gauge would have been standard in the 20th century, now, many aficionados would see a 50 ring gauge as being on the small side!
Why Does the Ring Gauge Matter?
The size of the cigar actually has quite an impact on the smoking experience.
Typically, a cigar with a thinner ring gauge will smoke hotter. This is because it has a tighter draw, so less air will get through the cigar, making it a lot warmer. This can bring about its own problems, as the excess heat can cause unpleasant flavours to develop in the cigar. On the other hand, a cigar with a thicker ring gauge will likely smoke cooler, as more air can be drawn through.
However, some cigar aficionados actually prefer thinner gauge cigars because it means they have less filler tobacco. The most flavourful, and best quality tobacco leaves, will be used for the wrapper, so smoking a thinner cigar further highlights this aspect of the smoke by concentrating the flavour.
Generally speaking, the thicker the ring gauge, the longer the time it will take to smoke it. Cigars with thicker ring gauges will usually be bigger, as they are filled with more tobacco. This takes longer to burn, and no cigar should be rushed. If you find that smoking a cigar takes too long, or that you regularly find yourself unable to finish a smoke, then it might be an idea to try one with a smaller ring gauge.
If you’re a beginner to the world of smoking, then we would recommend a cigar with a smaller ring gauge to start off with. Something around the 40 mark would be perfect, as it gives you the chance to sample an average-sized cigar without getting overwhelmed by something bulkier.
Why Are Bigger Ring Gauges Preferred Now?
As with all trends, changes in fashion are often to do with seeking a better appearance. While there are many flavour benefits of enjoying a bigger cigar, we do wonder if part of it is to do with the visual too!
As we know, cigars have long been regarded as a symbol of power and success. With this in mind, it would make sense that a bigger cigar would equate to a bigger statement of power.
A prime example of this in action can be seen in the movie Scarface (1984). Many characters in this film smoke cigars and there is a notable difference in their size as the plot develops and Tony Montana because increasingly powerful. At the start of the film, the types of cigars smoked are particularly skinny, pencil-like smokes, whereas by the end of the film, when Tony is in a position of power as boss of a Cartel, the cigars he smokes are much fatter.
Problems With Thicker Ring Gauges
One of the bigger issues with having a cigar with a larger ring gauge is the fact that sometimes, they’ll be too big for the accessories you have. For example, a guillotine cigar cutter, where the cigar is placed through a hole to slice the cap off, may be too small to fit a cigar with a hefty ring gauge.
While there are other methods of cutting a cigar, discovering that the tools you have invested in do not work for some of your stogie stash can be pretty annoying!
The size of cigar you choose is completely up to you and your smoking preferences. While there are pros and cons to each type of cigar, ultimately the decision of what is best is up to you!
The best way to discover which types of cigar you enjoy is to sample a variety, so if you’re looking to try out some smokes, then check out the range of cigars online in the UK we have available here at Havana House!