Cigar Aficionado

Looking at Bigger Cigars

Back in 1995, when I was hired by Cigar Aficionado, I was a huge fan of big cigars (I was also thinner, had no beard, and my hair was all black, but that's another story.) When I wanted a cigar—and I always wanted a cigar—I reached for the big ones, double coronas and Churchills especially. Sure, I loved robustos too, enjoyed big pyramids as well, but I didn’t look upon coronas and petit coronas with as much favor.

Things changed. I had my smaller cigar revelations that opened my eyes to just how good a smaller smoke can be. First came the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 3, which is 5 1/2 inches long by 44 ring gauge. (We include them in our corona category when we rate them.) If you haven’t smoked one of these, stop reading my blog right now, go to your favorite cigar store and buy one (better yet, buy a couple.) You’ll know what I mean. It’s one of the all-time great cigars, and it’s downright diminutive.

Then came the Cohiba Siglo I experience. It was 1996, and I was sitting on a balcony in Pinar del Río, Cuba. I opened up a box of Cohiba Siglo Is for the first time. Puny little smoke I thought, looking at the four inch long, 40 ring gauge petit corona. I didn’t expect much. Wow, was I wrong. It was bold and full of taste. How could there be so much flavor in such a small package?

I moved away from really big cigars for awhile. Sure, I smoked them (I smoke cigars of all sizes, for tasting as part of my job) but when I smoked for pleasure I tended to go with robustos, corona gordas, coronas, lanceros, almost anything but the doubles and Churchills I loved as a younger smoker. One reason was my newfound love for the smaller cigars, but another was the constraints of time on smoking large format smokes.

But recent events have put me back on the big cigar train. I got a hold of some glorious Ramon Allones Gigantes recently (one of Cuba’s superb double coronas), and puffing on them reminded me of just how good big format cigars can be. They are cigars that cannot be rushed, cigars that command as much as two hours of smoking time. I fired up one recently with a good friend on my deck, sitting outside on a not-too-hot summer evening, catching up on things. The cigars, each one brilliantly made, with wrappers as fine as silk, got better with every puff, and were eminently complex, rich and delicious.

Double coronas and Churchills aren’t the hottest sellers in cigar stores—the best sellers are robustos and corona gordas—but when they’re great, they are very hard to beat. If you’ve drifted away from them, consider making time for them once again.

"I remember the Hoyo DC`s 10 and 15 yrs ago were so rich and refined. I smoked them by the box.Now i admit to smaller rings. But when i have time i revisit the classic large sizes." —July 28, 2010 21:27 PM
"Nice commentary Dave. Think I will have to bust out one of those RA's tomorrow night. Somehow I think it will be a good evening. " —July 28, 2010 10:39 AM
"The ones I smoked were (and are) fantastic. And they're recent production RAs, very nice indeed. Hope you enjoy yours as well." —July 28, 2010 14:41 PM
"I totally agree with your comments about not finding time to enjoy smoking the bigger cigars. I love double coronas but there is never enough time to smoke them. BecAuse of this I started smoking the Oliva Serie V belicoso. They are small enough they don't take hours, but they offer a full bodied taste and just enough cigar to satisfy. " —August 9, 2010 00:43 AM