Thicker cigars, is it better?
On my Instagram account, I expressed my happiness for the low ring thickness of two of the 3 Edicion Limitadas (Romeo y Julieta Tacos and H.Upmann Propios), which were announced at this year's Festival de Habanos and will be released in 2018. Then I added, I wonder how long these ring diameters will continue to thicken. So, I did some research into the development of thick cigars, which are highly preferred especially in the American market.
Cigars with a higher ring diameter became more popular in America in the late 90s and early 2000s. Almost, almost, all of the articles written in the early 2000s ask the same question: Is this fashion permanent or temporary? When we look at today, it does not seem like a temporary fashion, since even accessory brands have introduced new model guillotine cutters with wide mouths to cut thick cigars in order. On the contrary, in terms of market share, according to the sales data published by Neptune Cigar Co., the average ring diameter of cigars sold has increased by 5 units from the early 2000s to 2015, and has increased from 46 to 51. I don't have the data, but I don't think this average has dropped in the last 2 years. In addition, from the data of the same source, the market share of cigars of 50 ring thickness and above sold in the USA in 2015 is 67%, including 60+ with a considerable share of 11%. In addition, in the early 2000s, the sales rate of cigars with 33-50 ring diameter, which had a share of 59%, decreased to 33% in 15 years.
While this is the case in the American market, one thinks what is the situation with Cuban cigars. Habanos makes a solid entrance to the thick cigar arena in 2002 with the Cohiba Siglo VI. I say solid, because for myself I am amazed that it is a solid entrance in both flavor and thickness. This vitola was very popular in a short time. Afterwards, the thickness gradually increased both in the new mass production vitolas and Edicion Limitada, which it released in different brands. In fact, for the first time in 2014, Cohiba Robustos Supremos EL reached 58 ring thickness, Habanos. Looking at the sales rates, according to Imperial Tobacco data, as of 2013, more than 50% of Habanos' sales were made by cigars with a ring thickness of 50+.
But why are these thick vitolas so popular? Different reasons can be listed:
Because thick cigars have more filling tobacco inside, it has been possible to produce blends and cigars that experience more complex and distinct flavors. In general, the thicker the cigars, the less the wraparound leaves contribute to the flavor. If I act as devil's advocate here, I can bring a different interpretation to this. As production techniques improve, it is possible to obtain more tobacco from the same square meter. But while doing this, you may lose the quality and aroma of the leaves, and you try to balance this by increasing the amount of filling tobacco. Sure, mine is just a theory, but when you think about it, why not.
Thicker cigars burn less brightly and hence there may be less aroma loss during smoking. Especially if you are one of those who are hot and hasty.
Some prefer these vitolas just because they provide a more masculine and strong stance in their hands. Considering that Wide Churchill is one of the fastest running cigars in our Duty Free, it's not an unfair reason.
So the second question: Are these thick cigars really better? As I share most of the time, the goodness of a cigar is a somewhat relative concept. Based on the preferred flavors and tastes, the goodness of the cigar can be argued. However, if we look at the tastes of cigars, such as Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Journal, which evaluate cigars especially in terms of aromatic harmony as well as their complex structure, we see that thin cigars like a panatela with a low market share still score higher on average than their muscular brethren. The most recent example of this is that in the evaluation of all tastes performed by Cigar Aficionado in 2017, Panatela Vitola achieved the highest score average with 89.7 points, but the popular 6x60 size vitola remained among the lowest averages of 87.7. Likewise, Toro's, another muscular vitola, has an average score of 89.0, again behind Panatela.
Although I am happy with the above results that I prefer a low ring thickness, I still consider this work to be a bit of a personal preference.
What would you say?
Enjoyable smoking ...