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Cigarillos vs Cigars

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Cigar purists will often tell you there is no argument when it comes to the cigarillo vs cigar debate. However, there is more to a cigarillo than just its small, narrow stature. A lot of the best cigar makers in the world also make cigarillos, so it’s not as if they are far apart in similarities.

The whole point of a good cigarillo is the fact that it’s a quicker, more efficient smoke because not everybody has the time to sit around for two hours, puffing on a gigantic cigar. There is a time and place for that, but cigarillos offer great flavor and aromas when you just can’t take that kind of time.

Cigarillos vs cigars

Caldwell SamplerThe first and most obvious difference between the two is the size. What a cigar aficionado considers to be an accurate representation of cigar diameter (measured in 64ths), differs from person to person. For most, a ring size above 40 is in cigar territory, with a ring size 34 and below falling in line with cigarillo standards.

Physical Characteristics

Hopefully, we’ve made it pretty plain that the primary difference is size. With that being said, what other physical characteristics separate the two?

One major difference is in how they are made. The vast majority of cigarillos are manufactured with machines. That’s how they can push out thousands more cigarillos for every cigar.

hand rolling a cigarilloFor the most part, cigars are handmade. Hundreds, if not thousands, of workers, essentially work an assembly line, individually applying the tobacco and wrapping them. Cigar purists will tell you this is the best way, providing premium smoke.

That may be true, but there is really no direct evidence that points to hand-rolled cigars tasting better than machine-rolled cigarillos. Quantity, both in terms of packaging and in terms of tobacco amount are different as well.

The typical cigar contains anywhere from 5 to 20 grams of tobacco, while a cigarillo may have as much as 3 grams, possibly 5 if it’s been really packed in. Also, for the most part, there are a lot more cigarillos in a package than cigars, and most of your premium cigars are purchased individually.

Smoking Differences

up close shot of a man smoking a cigarNeither of the two should be inhaled. Some enjoy inhaling occasionally, but it’s not the best for you. Cigar smoke, whether it comes from a cigar or a cigarillo, is harsh and far heavier than what you get from a standard cigarette.

You should puff both cigarillos and cigars, enjoy the flavor and aroma you get from holding the smoke in your mouth, and puff it back out. There’s another method that more experienced cigar smokers are familiar with, known as “retrohaling.”

Retrohaling is something you can do with cigars and cigarillos by passing the smoke from your mouth to your nasal cavities and out of your nose without ever breathing it in. It sounds difficult as a concept, but it’s not as hard as you think.

Ultimately, there is no real difference in how you smoke a cigarillo compared to how you smoke a cigar. Both are meant to be enjoyed slowly, over time. While a cigarillo won’t last nearly as long as a cigar, it will usually last up to twenty minutes or so. A cigar can last up to two hours.

When to smoke each

Well, that depends on the cigarillo or the cigar. Both of them come from a variety of manufacturers and both of them come in a wide variety of different flavors and smells. We could compile an entire article based on nothing more than pairing cigars and cigarillos with certain events, foods, and beverages.

When it comes to cigarillos, there are a lot of fantastic brands and options out there.

cigar next to a glass of scotch whiskeyThe thing is, some of these are best when paired with a good Scotch, and some are best for a post-filet mignon dinner. Some are just all-around excellent cigarillos, best smoked at any time of the day or night.

Cigars are pretty much the same. How to smoke cigarillos vs cigars and when to smoke cigarillos vs cigars are the two areas where both of these options are the most similar. Cigars, like cigarillos, have a lot of premium brand options and excellent cigar choices as well.

Also, much like cigarillos, these cigars are made for certain occasions or they are at their absolute best when paired with something that accommodates the palette in a specific way. Cigars and cigarillos also share common smokes that are good for any occasion, regardless of what you’re eating or drinking at the time.

Bottom Line

There are a lot more similarities between cigarillos and cigars than there are differences, especially when it comes to premium variations of the two. Both have cheap options and enormously expensive options as well.

The only real differences between the two are their sizes and how they are manufactured. Cigar purists will point to the manufacturing process as the major, deciding factor between the two. The reality is unless you’re smoking the oil from someone’s dirty hands, there is no evidence-based difference in manufacturing methods.

If you’re new to cigar smoking, you should keep an open mind and look at both cigarillos and cigars. The worst thing that could happen is you’ll fall in love with both. Then you’ll have much more to choose from at the end of the day. That’s not such a bad thing. 

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