THERE used to be a cigar saying along the lines of: “When a man is in his 30s, he smokes a 30 Ring Gauge cigar; in his 50s, he smokes a 50 Ring Gauge cigar.”
We think it’s supposed to highlight that only a man of increasing age – and, perhaps girth – could get away with smoking what was, back then, a very fat cigar. Up until middle age and beyond, the saying tells us, one should concentrate on more discreet, perhaps less opulent, smokes.
How times have changed. Let’s deconstruct this old adage a little further.
These days, a 30 ring gauge cigar barely exists. The English – no indeed, the world market – has aped the USA and introduced fatter and fatter cigars as the years have passed. There was a time not that long ago when a Montecristo No.2 – the magnificent piramide cigar which is perhaps the finest example of the brand in current production – was labelled among aficionados as a behemoth of a cigar. These days, the size isn’t anything special at all.
Cigar smokers of all ages and sexes regularly smoke fatter ring gauge cigars because they like them; the easy draw they provide, the greater mix of filler blends they express and how they feel in the hand and in the mouth. This can only be a good thing.
The downside to this is that the thinner cigars – the Lanceros and the Panetelas of the cigar world – have, by and large, been phased out. Indeed, last year’s Hunters & Frankau release of the El Rey del Mundo La Reina is the first new long, thin cigar we’ve seen on these shores for a very long time indeed.
But should one pay any attention to the size of the cigar you’re smoking, depending on your age, sex, face shape or star sign?
No, of course you bloody shouldn’t. Cigars are, ultimately, about enjoyment, and if you fancy a 60 x 7 telegraph pole and you’re only the size of Yoda, who gives a monkeys? You pays your money and you takes your choice.
However, be prepared to question your own choices. Are you smoking that truncheon because you like it or because everyone else is? If you stopped and considered things rationally, would you perhaps not be better off sticking to a Robusto or a Corona, especially given the time constraint you’re under? Smoking a big fat one doesn’t make you big and tough; equally, smoking a long thin one doesn’t make you a seven-stone weakling.
It’s yet another lesson that cigars have for their disciples. Learn to be your own person and smoke what you want to smoke for the right reasons. This piece of humility and discipline will stand you in good stead in every other aspect of your life and will further help you make informed choices based on your preferences and not on sociological issues or peer pressure.
Now, where did we put those Partagas Culebras?