All cigars can be divided into two broad categories by their shape. Parejos, which have straight sides, and Figurados, which include all "irregular" shapes.
Parejos include 3 basic divisions, by the relative proportion of their dimensions. There's Coronas (a broad category including Coronas, Dbl. Coronas, Presidentes, Robustos, and Churchills). All Coronas are characterized by an open "foot" and a rounded "head". Next are the Panatelas. Longer than coronas, these are generally considerably thinner. The third division is Lonsdales - thicker than Panatelas, but generally longer than Coronas.
(confused yet? - good!)
Figuardos, or "irregular" shaped Cigars are a little better defined. The smallest is the Belicoso - a small tapered cigar with a rounded head (not pointed) and a larger foot. Next are the Pyramids, tapering from a large foot to a small head. A "true" pyramid always has a pointed head. Although many smokers call a large pyramid a torpedo, a "true" torpedo has a large foot, smaller, pointed head, and a slight bulge in the middle. The Perfecto is tapered on both ends to a smaller size than its straight middle section - a classic "cigar shape". Finally, there's the Diademas, the giant of cigars. These are 8 inches or greater. (hmmmm - does that make the Aliados General a "Diademas-and-a-half"?)
Cigar size names did originally specify the exact physical size and shape of cigars. After a dozen decades of manufacturers "individualizing" their cigars, these original standards are long gone. As far as I know, only Cuban manufacturer's have stayed with these original standard sizes. Whether Upman, Partagas, or Cohiba produces it, a Habana Corona is still Corona sized....
CLASSICAL CIGAR SHAPES ORDERED BY LENGTH
1 : Sometimes still refered to as Rothschilds, a previous term used to describe any short and stout cigar. Even more rarely seen are cigars described as a "Rothschild" which is an incorrect spelling. Like the H. Upmann brand, this size is also named after a German cigar enthusiast, specifically the Rothschilds family. Regardless of whether you chose to call the size a Robusto or a Rothschilds, it is in general part of the Corona family and, as a result, was once refered to as a Royal Corona.
2 : Yes this shape is actualy named after Winston Churchill. But considering how many cigars he smoked in a day, who's surprised?
3 : It is a common misconception among smokers to consider any irregularly shaped cigar to be a figuardo. The truth in this statement is merely coincidental though. Unlike typical cigars (straight shafts with rounded heads and open foots) Figuardos are very hard to make—a master rollers job—and that's what makes them Figuardos. The types listed above are easy to pinpoint in respect to dimensions because they are very similar to typical cigars; ie. Coronas and Panatellas. The only specific notes are that Torpedos and Belicosos taper to a point at the head, and the Belicosos tapers over a shorter distance is usualy more pointy. On the other hand the following types are so different and have there own range of lengths and ring guages, that they are mentioned seperately:
Next to the Torpedo, probably one of the most recogonized of the Figuardos. Unlike the Torpedo, which tapers in the last inch or two, the Pyramid tapers from head to foot. The Pyramid size is popular everywhere, with the Cuban Montechristo No. 2 being one of the most famous cigars of all time.
A very odd size that is not often found on the market today. It involves three smaller cigars being "snaked" together into a braided final product. In fact, the word culebra means "snake" in Spanish. Culebras first appeared when trouble arose regarding the practice of workers being able to take a few complimentary cigars home at the end of the work day. Factory bosses discovered that the workers were taking premium cigars from their workbenches and putting their daily gift cigars (which were of lesser quality) into the the premium cigar boxes! To curb this, the bosses began twisting the workers' cigars together when they were still moist to identify what was a daily gift and what was the real thing. The unique look eventually found demand from the public, but has dwindled in recent years. Hoyo De Monterrey apparently dropped its production of Culebras in 1998, leaving Davidoff as the only manufacturer outside of Cuba that still produces the shape. However, it's supposedly still made in a couple of factories in Cuba, including the world famous Partagas factory in Havana.
A cigar that tapers at both ends and is closed at the head and foot. Once extremely popular in the early half of the twentieth century, this cigar has come to be looked upon as a joke. As a result it has lost popularity with smokers and is hard to find anymore, although major brands do still produce it. Te-Amo, comes to mind with its excellent Maduro Double Perfecto.
This is really a general term to refer to any small, cigarette-sized cigar. These days there are many named shapes that fall into the Cigarillo category. For instance, Demi Tasse is one that smokers will see often.
4 : The larger a cigar is, the harder it is to make and new rollers often start with Petit Coronas and then work their way up. The difficulty involved in rolling something as large as a Giant cigar is very great, and hence it falls into the "hard to make" category of Figuardos (see note 3 on Figuardos). Also note that the terms Diedamas and Giant are interchangable; e.g. the Punch Grand Cru Diedamas Deluxe (8 x 52)
HAVANA SHAPES IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
The first dimension is the length of the cigar in inches. The second is the ring gauge of the cigar or the diameter of the cigar measured in 64ths of an inch. So a Churchill is about 7 inches long and 3/4 of an inch in diameter.