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Learning Your ABCs: Cigars 101

George Brightman
From the Print Edition:
cigar case, Summer 93

(continued from page 2)

-- Belicoso: A small pyramid-shaped cigar with a rounded head rather than a point.

-- Torpedo: A shape with a pointed head, a closed foot and a bulge in the middle.

-- Perfecto: These look like the cigar in cartoons with two closed rounded ends and a bulge in the middle.

-- Culebras: Three panetelas braided together.

-- Diademas: A giant cigar 8 inches or longer. Most often it has an open foot, but occasionally it will come with a perfecto tip, or closed foot.

Remember, even with these "classic" irregular shapes, there are variations among manufacturers. Some cigars called belicosos look like pyramids, and some called torpedos look like pyramids because they do not have a perfecto tip. Confusing? Yes, it is.

Unfortunately, it really is self-defeating to try to talk about "classic" or "normal" ranges for any cigars on the market today. The basic shape designations can vary so greatly from company to company that they make little sense. Don't assume because you like a Churchill from one company that you're going to get the same-sized cigar with that name from another manufacturer.

There are some other designations that are worth knowing because they refer to the style of packing. An 8-9-8 designation, for instance, simply means that the cigars are stacked in three rows inside the box, eight on the bottom, nine in the middle and eight on top. It usually comes in a distinctive rounded side box. Amatista refers to a glass jar of 50 cigars, originally packaged by H. Upmann, that was developed for smokers who wanted a "factory fresh" smoke. Finally, there are tubos, cigars that are packed in aluminum, glass or even wooden tubes; a tightly sealed tube will keep cigars fresh for a long period of time.

This information will help you to navigate the aisles of your cigar shop. And it may make you more open to trying out different wrapper colors, different sizes and even different shapes.

George Brightman is the director of business development at Cigar Aficionado. He has been in the cigar trade for 20 years.

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