When a consumer walks into a brick & mortar retailer, or visits an online shop, they are presented with a plethora of cigars to choose from. Once they land on a brand they then have to decide which vitola they would like to smoke. The obvious factors that contribute to the decision of which vitola to smoke are, for most, time commitment, comfort, and preference. If someone only usually has an hour to smoke they may be more inclined to grab a robusto instead of a toro. If someone does not enjoy larger ring gauge cigars they may opt for a lonsdale instead of a gordo. Then there are some people, myself included, that typically have a size preference when trying something new. I myself prefer to smoke something 4 to 5 inches in length and 48 to 52 in ring gauge, so oftentimes my introduction to a brand is a robusto.
There is nothing wrong with any of these considerations when it comes to picking which vitola to smoke. I, however, think that many consumers look no further than this when it comes to the importance of vitola. In reality, vitola plays a much more critical role in the smoking experience than just being a comfortable size for that particular smoker. Ignoring this can lead to a consumer writing off a brand entirely because the one vitola they did not enjoy the one vitola they smoked. Yes, in most instances, all vitolas in a line are going to offer a fairly good representation of what you can expect from a brand. However, there are things that should be looked into with a little more detail or consideration.
For instance, some companies, such as Patina Cigars, know that smokers have their preferred vitola. This is their go to size and they are not likely to depart from it. Mo, Patina’s owner, has experience in cigar retail and understands that these types of smokers also often have this preference because they are looking for, or expecting, a certain experience. For this reason, when Mo works on the blend for Patina Cigars lines, he takes time to cater each vitola towards what a typical smoker of that vitola usually is looking for. I pick Patina for this example because I think Mo does this masterfully, and his cigars are the best example of why a consumer should try different vitolas of the same cigar - if the first vitola is not completely off putting as I do not recommend trying another vitola if the first one was an utter bust.
The Patina example, to me, is the best reason to not overlook other vitolas, however, there are a couple more I wanted to touch on. One of these is the fact that sometimes cigars are named the same and placed under the same brand, but have different blends entirely. A perfect example is the Casdagli Cigars Basilica C line. The #1 Toro, #2 Lancero, and #3 Petit Robusto all bear the Basilica C designation but have different wrapper, binder, and filler combinations. Someone may dislike the #1 and dismiss the #2 without realizing the cigars have significantly different compositions.
The other consideration is that even though most brands carry the same composition and core profiles across the vitolas, the further you stray from the “standard” sizes, the harder it can be to maintain consistency. A lancero just does not have the same space and freedom to work with in the filler, so it may be hard to perfectly translate the profile of a cigar that was blended in a toro size originally to a drastically smaller ring gauge. The length of the cigar is also something to consider. Nick Melillo has mentioned how his Foundation Cigars Tabernacle Double Corona is large enough that it can be blended with full leaves in the bunch, as opposed to breaking and backfilling them. This can yield a slightly different, more consistent smoking experience than something like an ordinary robusto.
After all I presented here, at the end of the day, you do you. I am not going to tell anyone that they are doing it wrong when it comes to how they enjoy this hobby. I just like to share my thoughts and experiences in hopes that I may be able to expand someone's understanding and pique their interests. For me, I don't always smoke multiple vitolas of a line, as there are just too many cigars out there. However, I have had plenty of surprises when trying different vitolas, and that was my inspiration for the “Vitola Battle” reviews that popup every now and again on the website.
The Patina Habano was actually the first brand to open my eyes to how different the “same” cigar could be in different vitolas. The Patina Connecticut cemented this concept for me. Now I want to offer, and challenge you to try, a sampler of Patina’s newest release, the Sumatra. This sampler has one of each vitola in the line. The 4 x 50 “Precipitation” and 6 x 46 “Copper” vitolas are considered to be more of the “connoisseur” sizes. The Precipitation packs big, bold flavors in a compact format while the Copper is full of complex, nuanced flavor in a vitola that is always appreciated by “cigar nerds”. The 5 x 52 “Rustic” and the 6 x 52 “Bronze” are built for a balanced, easy-going smoking experience in classic vitolas everyone knows and loves.
Feel free to reach out to me with questions, concerns, criticisms, or just to talk at @guitarsandcigarsfarm on Instagram, or visit my website www.guitarsandcigarsfarm.com.