The Fat Cigar Trend
They're too big for some cutters, cigar cases and perhaps your mouth, but extra-fat cigars are in big demand
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Diamond Crowns helped open the eyes of manufacturers to the idea of thicker cigars, and to the options for blending that are available in a thicker ring gauge. Most cigarmakers that sell an unusually thick cigar cite the ability to blend a wide variety of tobaccos as the reason they've chosen to bring a fat cigar to market.
"Given the diameter of the cigar, you're afforded a very strong blend," says Michael Argenti, vice president of Tabacalera Perdomo S.A., which released Perdomo Cuban Parejo in 2001, a brand with ring gauges from 56 to 62. "On our Cuban Parejo, we're using a blend of five different tobaccos."
Argenti says Tabacalera Perdomo had a good reason for releasing an all-fat cigar brand: the company's thickest cigars are also its best sellers.
Rakesh "Rocky" Patel, president of Indian Tabac Cigar Co., agrees. Last year he created a whopper: the Indian Tabac Cameroon Legend Gorilla, a 6 inch by 58 ring cigar. "These shapes are hot now; we'll see how long it lasts until the new thing comes around," Patel says. He'll be surprised if, 10 years from now, there is still a demand for his Gorilla. He personally isn't a fan of such fat cigars, and he has noticed a difference between Gorilla smokers and those who prefer traditional cigar sizes such as coronas, lonsdales and Churchills. "They're two totally different individuals," he says. "Maybe it's something to do with manly arrogance, but it usually is the bigger guys who are smoking [the fat cigars]. It has something to do with stature, with the way the cigar feels in your hand."
Consumers have mixed feelings as well. "Thicker cigars burn cooler and deliver a bigger bang for the buck," wrote one reader on cigaraficionado.com, the Web site of Cigar Aficionado magazine, in a recent poll on fat cigars. "I don't want to smoke a tree trunk -- that's too much work," said another. "Every once and a while they are a treat/meal, but I wouldn't make a steady diet of them," wrote a third.
The majority of smokers who answered the poll, 73 percent, smoke fat cigars, but they seem to do it more as a novelty. Only 1 percent said they smoke fat cigars exclusively, and only 18 percent said most of the cigars they smoke are fat.
Although fat cigars sell well for Tabacalera Perdomo, Argenti isn't ready to proclaim the death of the more traditional cigar sizes. "There's always a place for a corona," he says.
Regardless of the size of the smoker, Patel believes that many cigar aficionados will always be keen to try something new, even if that product never becomes their go-to smoke. "People are always looking for that hot new cigar," he says. Even if that cigar is too big for an ashtray.
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shirley fornaseri — March 22, 2011 10:24pm ET
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