Sixty ring gauge smokes have been on my mind lately. They're everywhere you look, and they're the hot new thing in cigar shops.
Most premium cigar companies now offer something (or many things) in a 60 ring gauge, a size that was once unheard of in the cigar world. Back in 1992, when Cigar Aficionado was created, 50 ring gauges were about the maximum you could find in most cigars. Sure, there was the occasional oddity, such as the Casa Blanca Half Jeroboam (I believe Robert DeNiro smoked one to great effect in the remake of Cape Fear) and Cuba Aliados always had a few incredibly fat figurados, but most cigar brands were no thicker than 50 ring. Diamond Crown pushed the boundary by launching an all 54-ring gauge line in the 1990s, but today 54s seem downright slim compared to a 60.
The preferred length for these 60 ring gauge smokes is six inches. There isn't a standard name for a six by 60, but many cigar companies call them grandes, gigantes, or gordos. Gordo, Spanish for "fat," certainly fits. Ring gauges are measured in 64ths of an inch, so 60 ring is close to one inch thick. Cigar smokers seem to love them, because they're buying them up in droves.
As we reported in our summer survey of tobacconists across the United States in Cigar Insider, the six by 60 has emerged as a top seller. The six-by-60 size climbed into third place among the best-selling cigar sizes in America, behind longstanding winners toros and robustos, which ranked first and second, respectively.
I'm not a huge fan of the format myself. I find that 60 ring gauge smokes take a very, very long time to light, don't feel terribly comfortable in the mouth and seldom offer the flavor I enjoy in other formats. But cigar smokers certainly like them. So I used my Twitter account the other day to ask what other people think. The results were mixed.
"I LOVE the bigger ring gauges," wrote Michael Forry. Another called the six by sixty his "my favorite size when I have the time. Perfect at barbecue."
Others were less enamored. "I think people who smoke the 60 don't understand the nuances of the flavors," wrote cigar blogger NYIsles. He compared puffing on a 60 ring to "drinking Johnny [Walker] Blue with soda." (Not a recommended practice, by the way.) Jeta Kaziu of Cigar Masters in Boston went so far as to say "true cigar smokers don't smoke 6 by 60." Pete Johnson, who owns the Tautaje cigar brand, sells plenty of them but doesn't really enjoy smoking them. "I have had a 6 1/2 x 60 in my line since 2004," he wrote. "My best seller today, but I think 60 is a silly gauge. Fifty and under please."
Taking the middle ground was a Tweeter named Pablo, who said the addition of tobacco filler in such fat cigars led to more aroma, and not necessarily more strength. He seemed to like them "as long as the cigar is balanced."
So what's your take? Do you enjoy six by 60s? If so, why do you like them? And do you think they're here to stay?
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