A good cigar is a real treat. Thankfully, there’s something out there for everyone, from the novice to the seasoned cigar enthusiast. Cigars of all flavors, styles and shapes can be found in dedicated shops. Most aficionados and experts will agree that cigar shape plays a major role in how a cigar tastes. However, does the shape of a cigar really affect how it burns?
As it turns out, the shape of a cigar is important, but what really affects how the cigar burns is the center leaf, which is referred to as “ligero.” This is the leaf that provides a cigar’s taste. It comes from the top leaf of a tobacco plant where the nicotine content is at its highest. However, the ligero does far more than affect flavor. When there is more of this leaf in a cigar, the burn quality is greatly improved. When a cigar is actively burning, about an inch of it will turn to ash before it falls off. When it does, the top of the cigar should have a clearly defined cone shape. This means that the cigar is still burning and does not need to be re-lit. A cigar with a large amount of ligero leaves will have a sharp cone while cigars with less ligero will have a blunted cone.
Most cigars that are sold today are referred to as “parejos.” This is the straight shape that the everyday non-smoker will clearly recognize as a cigar. Since these have such a large corner on the market, we can pretty clearly assess how they will burn based on the amount of ligero contained inside them. In addition, smaller or thinner cigars and cigarillos will burn faster and hotter than a cigar with a larger ring gauge. So, it seems that cigar size is also more important than cigar shape in the long run.
Whether you’re enjoying a Churchill or just a Robolo, it seems that higher-quality cigars of any shape or size will burn “better,” so to speak. Having more the of the all-important center leaf is what makes a cigar burn properly. Just remember not to smoke a cigar too quickly or draw too heavily on it as this will negatively affect both the flavor and the burn quality. Cigars are meant to be savored, much like you would with a good coffee or a fine wine. Enjoy it for the luxury that it is, and you’ll have a pleasurable experience regardless of the shape or size of your cigar.