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Cigar 101

Robusto vs. Churchill Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Two of the most iconic cigar shapes, or standard Parejos, are the Robusto and the Churchill. A classic Robusto is between 4 ¾ and 5 ½ inches long with a ring gauge between 48 and 52. Churchills are longer at 6 ¾ to 7 inches with ring gauges between 48 and 50. The biggest difference between a Robusto and a Churchill is how long it takes to smoke each cigar size. A Robusto burns for close to forty-five minutes while a Churchill can last an hour or longer. How fast you smoke and the density of the tobaccos in a cigar affect how long it will burn as well. Subtle but meaningful differences occur in a cigar’s profile when you smoke the same blend in different sizes. Let’s breakdown how both of these classic cigar shapes compare to one another.


The Robusto Reigns Supreme

The Robusto has been around for nearly a century, but cigar-makers didn’t regularly label their cigars as “Robustos” until the late 1980s. Dating to the 1930s, the Cuban Partagas Serie D No. 4 is one of the first Robusto-sized cigars to achieve widespread popularity. Today, nearly every premium cigar-maker produces a Robusto in their bestselling blends. Robustos and Toros are the most popular vitolas by sales.

The Robusto is a particularly appealing shape because it’s not an intimidating length for new cigar lovers, and seasoned smokers often prefer this iconic size in a wide variety of blends. The Robusto is also an excellent size if you like to smoke more than one cigar in a day because it requires a smaller investment of your time and money. The Robusto is a great format for smoking a new blend to see if you like its taste before spending more time and money on a larger size.

The Churchill Is Perfect for a Long Conversation

When you’re catching up with an old friend, a longer cigar like a Churchill is the best recipe for relaxing. Smoking a Churchill means you’ve got time to kill, and you’re in no rush to finish your cigar. Churchills are some of the best cigars to smoke on the golf course and for celebrating special occasions. Aficionados choose a Churchill when they really love a specific blend, and they want to savor the moment.

The first half of a Churchill is milder than the first half of a Robusto because the smoke is traveling a longer distance, and cooling, before it reaches your palate. The San Cristobal Quintessence Churchill is Cigar Aficionado’s 95-rated ‘#3 Cigar of the Year’ for 2021. Blended by Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, Quintessence is an exceptional Nicaraguan Churchill that delivers notes of molasses, cedar, and coffee bean with a robust spice. The 94-rated Ashton ESG is blended by legendary cigar-maker Carlito Fuente in five sizes, including a classic Churchill called the 20-Year. Notes of cocoa, graham cracker, cedar, and black pepper gently unfold before a long and luscious finish arrives. Smoke each of these top-rated Churchills to get acquainted with today’s biggest cigar-producing countries: Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Are Longer Cigars Stronger?

A common misconception regarding cigar size is that longer or bigger cigars are stronger than smaller ones. The binder, filler, and wrapper tobaccos a cigar-maker selects to create a cigar’s blend affect the cigar’s strength much more than the cigar’s size. A mellow and rich cigar like an Ashton Classic is mild and creamy in the 5 by 50 Magnum, a standard Robusto, and the Prime Minister, a Churchill, at just under 7 inches with a 48 ring gauge, exhibits an identical, easygoing flavor profile with notes of cedar, cashew, almond, and coffee bean. Because the Magnum is shorter, its intensity peaks sooner than in the Prime Minister. The flavor in the final third of the Prime Minister is more pronounced than in the Magnum, though.

Essentially, the oils and nicotine in a premium cigar culminate faster (earlier) in a shorter format because the heat is closer to your palate when you light the cigar. However, in a longer size like a Churchill, you’re inevitably consuming a greater amount of tobacco by the time you finish the cigar. That’s why it’s wise to build your tolerance for cigars by smoking shorter cigars and gradually experimenting with bigger sizes when you’re a beginner. Smoke a Robusto or a Corona (5 ½ by 44) in a new blend first. Then try a Toro (6 by 52) before indulging in a Churchill for a full hour.

Choosing the Best Cigar Size?

Size is a big factor when you’re choosing a cigar. It’s right up there with strength and price. Equally important is a cigar’s flavor profile. Deciding on a Churchill versus Robusto boils down to how much time you’ve got to smoke. The good news is, there is no shortage of premium Robustos and Churchills to smoke today.

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