Dilettantes reach for the 7-inch Churchills, but serious puffers know downsizing maximizes flavor.
Photo: Everett Collection
The next time you head to a tobacconist, consider that old adage about less being more. Though normally a lie, it’s a truism in the land of cigars. Smaller and narrower cigars aren't just a convenient option for men with shit to do - a good one should last about as long as a stiff drink or your walk from the office to the restaurant - they're usually the best sizes in a cigar line. That's because small is the preferred size for many master blenders when they're testing a new cigar. The reason is two-fold: No one wants to waste tobacco, and narrower smokes make better use of the wrapper tobacco, which is often the tastiest part of the cigar. It sounds counterintuitive, but smaller cigars are more flavorful.
Petit Corona, Short Robusto, Intermezzo: there are tons of names for smokes around four inches that you can light and smoke without sitting. They’re cheaper than the 7-inch Churchills
amateurs go for on instinct, but that’s not even the point. They’re the mark of the veteran smoker and they fit in the inside pocket of a suit without ruining the silhouette.
Matt Booth, the LA-based artist and brand owner of Room 101
, carries his 4 inch, 42 ring signature size, the Papi Chulo
, in almost all of his lines. "Not only is it the most comfortable for me to smoke," says Booth, “it's packed with a ton of flavor.” He produces more than a dozen 20-minutes-or-less cigars so it comes as no surprise that he personally favors something smaller. Booth says his narrower ring produces a "tremendous amount of flavor. Far more than in a 60 ring cigar.”
Like Booth, many smokers want big tastes and more of them. Fortunately, they’re are plenty of options out there. Here are the best short smokes on the market:
The narrowest smoke on this list, the Papi Chulo
is smoky and spicy, with notes of charred meat and a vanilla sweetness playing off of each other.
, the classic Nicaraguan brand, produces a tiny smoke in their 1926 line. The No. 35 is earthy and with coffee bean notes and comes with a darker maduro wrapper as well if you want something heartier.
There's the Davidoff Nicaragua Short Corona
, a slightly sweet smoke with hints of orange zest. It pairs well with your morning coffee, and won't ruin your day if you light it before lunch.
New Hampshire brand 7-20-4 named its small smoke The Dog Walker
, since it was tailored to the time it takes to walk your dog. It’s unexceptional but tasty.
For something fresh to market - and the strongest line on this list - seek out the La Palina Mr. Sam Robusto
. It's a perfectly balanced smoke worth the work to get your hands on.