A couple of weeks ago, a few of us Twitter using, Pennsylvania cigar smokers were toying with the idea of getting together for a cigar. With a drive of about two hours separating all of us, we decided to meet in the middle and get together at an Oliva event being held at Olde World Tobacco.
When that day came, I met up with my father and we drove out to meet up with, Mike (Knightrid), Paul (Shing999), and Paul’s Father (Also Paul). The featured cigar of the event was the new Cain Straight Ligero, so naturally we all wound up smoking one at some point during the event.
One of several topics discussed was the strength of the Cain and how parts of the industry are headed in the direction of making a cigar that is chocked full of power. The trend seems to be paying off as these cigars are flying off the shelves all across the country.
I’m of the mind that this trend, which has been going on for years now, has altered our perception of cigars. I have a few friends that were cigar smokers back in the boom and they all say the same thing, if you wanted a powerhouse you either bought Puros Indios or Punch.
I’ve only been smoking since 2005, and I remember full bodied cigars consisting of brands like Punch, and El Rey del Mundo. Now, I consider those same brands medium bodied. I’m curious on your thoughts about where the industry lies in terms of the body spectrum.
Do you feel that cigar smokers should use a sliding scale when discussing a cigars body? Perhaps adjusting our classification based on what else is available on the market? It seems that every few months a new product is launched which either recalibrates our determination of body in cigars, or expands the full spectrum.
Do we need a very full classification for sticks such as the CAO LX2, El Cobre, Rocky Patel Edge, and Cain Straight Ligero, among others? What do you think this does to new smokers seeking out something mild?
22 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Does our definition of Full Bodied need an overhaul?”
I use a sliding scale, and that’s been moving more and more as I’ve expanded my list of smoked sticks. Personally, I don’t think the Cain is as incredibly full as others think, but I also feel full bodied is a combination of nicotine kick, spice, and flavor, so perhaps my definition varies. I think the way to do it is to compare to sticks people are most familiar with. Most everybody has something like a NUb Connie on the mild end, something like a Punch Punch in the medium range, and something like an Edge on the full end. Comparing to those sticks gives a relative idea of how strong a cigar is. The more classified things become, the more complicated cigar lingo becomes. I’d prefer to be able to discuss cigars in a broad sense with everyone and be more specific with those who actually care to discuss cigars in detail.
When you think about a common “comment” that is typically mentioned/inserted into any “review” of a very full bodied/full strength/very strong cigar – that comment usually mentions “for experienced smokers”. Ray D. hit it spot on when he covered off on the multiple combination of nicotine kick, spice, and flavor – he is describing what an “experienced” smoker experiences. As such, I would propose a new category or classification definition of “Full Bodied – Experienced Smoker”. Now before anyone has a stick (as opposed to a cow); consider this. Only “Experienced” smokers can typically withstand the more full bodied and stronger smokes. A new/novice/occasional/infrequent – aka “inexperienced” smoker is likely to be knocked on their ass by a truly full bodied cigar.
I started out as a light bodied cigar smoker (Bacarrat, Artuo Fuente Chateau, Macanudo, etc) and over time – (aka experience) – tried different cigars of increasing strength and complexity and viola! Before you know it, I’m now a Medium to Full body smoker and cannot smoker anything lighter – no matter how flavorful. Now – its Ashton VSG’s; Padron 26’s and 64’s; Fuente OPUS X’s; Alec Bradley Tempus, Kristoff’s; Rocky Patel Decade’s; Bolivar’s, maduro’s in general.
In summary, smoking over time brings about experience in smoking and increases the changing “palette” of the smoker.
To be honest, when I read a review or I am thinking about trying something for the first time, the most important aspect that I really want to now about are the flavours and how the tastes evolve as the cigar progresses. Most people who have smoked cigars for a number of years find that the ‘body or strength’ of a cigar is also unique to the person smoking it. I am afraid to say that I think that some cigar makers today use the whole strength thing as a marketing tool when maybe they should pay a little more attention to the flavour. Thanks.
For my opinion, I would like to see a new class of a Full+ ( someone used this in a review somewhere, maybe nicetightash? so I dont get accused of stealing it =) ) be used to classify some of the over the top cigars. It is hard to classify everything due to different tastes of each person, but if a veteran cigar smoker feels a cigar is above Full, then I would take their word on it 😉
Bit of a side note….I think more manufacturers are just going for power rather than making a nice flavorful cigar. I am more of a mild-medium smoker, but enjoy the AB Tempus, RP Edge Natural, and a couple other fuller bodied cigars, on occasion. I just like the flavors they produce. I think the biggest thing selling the over the top cigars is the “I smoked that” factor. It will be interesting to see after they have been out on the market for a year if they still are selling as well or if people go back to the more flavorful smokes.
Yeah, the previous two comments here (A well aged Cuban and KnightRid) both have it right, IMHO. “Full-bodied” has become more a marketing item. I haven’t found the Cain to be more than upper-medium while others find it powerful. The problem is, nearly everything about a cigar is subjective. So how do you give anybody an idea of what one particular smoke is like without classifying something about it? Flavor is far more important to me than body, but how could you quantify that? At least body may have a scientific basis in nicotine content.
So, is “body” a quantified, scientific rating? If not, maybe it should be.
Well, whatever you think about what a specific cigar’s body is, I think that your frequency of smoking influences both your ability to enjoy body and your definition. People keep coming out to say that ‘X isn’t the full bodied cigar it claims to be’ or even ‘I thought Y would be mild, but it kicked my ass!’. The truth is, the more you smoke, the more you can handle strong cigars, and the more the mild ones become bland to your palate. Macanudo may get a bad rap amongst the hardcore, but I still think they are a top of the line smoke, just not for regular smokers. Same goes for davidoff, which I see get bum reviews all the time. Conversely, Bolivar, a brand that is not pleasant or easy for less frequent smokers to enjoy, gets top honors in CA and elsewhere pretty often.
I noticed this when I used to smoke cigarettes. I would over spice food and dump a mountain of herbs in everything. Smoking numbs the taste buds and temporarily decreases your ability to sense flavor. Your taste comes back, but frequent smoking does tend to push you to more and more intense cigars to get that flavor and buzz you used to get from a milder smoke..
And I think that there is variation in cigar leaf that is very difficult to control. You can generally blend cigars to taste the same, because tobacco is easily sorted into flavors and aromas and you can put a certain amount of this, a pinch of that and a leaf of the other to keep the same flavor year to year. But there is no good, easy way to measure out strength, so I think we’ll see wider variations in strength than in flavors.
I guess what I think is, full to mild is fine as a spectrum, but there may be a need for a select few intense cigars to be labeled as FFULL, or F(***KING)FULL. These are the cigars for twice daily and thrice daily smokers. The All Ligero, all the time crowd. And I also think that since strength is more subjective and more random than flavor, maybe not to focus too much on it, or at least keep in mind that there is a wide variance in what two people might call a powerful cigar, and give the strength as a spectrum, like med-full to full, or FFULL to FF FULL( yes, might as well invent a newer more intense FFULL rating. Its only a matter of time till we need it).
The problem I have with the term “full-bodied” is that people define it differently. Some use it to talk about the nicotine hit of the cigar – that is, how much do you feel the nicotine; while others use the term to refer to the fullness or strength of the taste on the palate – that is, are the flavors strong and deep (which is different still from complexity).
When you guys use the term here, I think you mean the nicotine hit. So, to make it easier to interpret, I’d like to see reviews include a nicotine hit rating on a scale of some sort. That would take the guesswork out of it.
I agree with Robert. I think there is a gray zone when defining body. Does it mean the heavy feel in the mouth, does it mean stregnth, I guess both. If anything I think there should be a stregnth rating. For example, I think the Cain is a 10+ on strenght, but only a medium body cigar in terms of body and flavor.
I remember when the Edge was the killer full-boded “smoke at your own risk cigar.” Now, there are quite a few that trump the Edge in terms of power.
In my opinion, the industry DEFINITELY needs an “Extra Full Bodied” classification. Not only will this improve sales numbers for sticks like the Oliva V, Cain, Man o War Ruinaion, and Edge, but it will help to warn people who simply can’t take that much strength.
I know people who have been sacred away from “Full Bodied” cigars because they smoked something very strong like an LFD Double Ligero, and so now they won’t even touch sticks like a CAO Italia because it says “Full Bodied” as well. The industry needs to make a new classification SOON if it wants to keep all of the (many) newer cigar smokers out there.
Oh — and let’s not wait for C.A. to do this for us … the industry has evolved past them anyway. Let’s just coin the obvious term “Extra Full Bodied” and use it!
I also agree with Robert. I would like to see nicotine hit rating. I think of a full bodied cigar as having full flavor and a strong cigar having high nicotine content but that is not necessarily the case. I like good robust flavors but I don’t care too much for a strong nicotine buzz. I think a nicotine hit rating would be a great idea.
I think not only may we need a new definition of full bodied but, we may also need to sharpen the term itself. Too many times I hear a cigar defined as full bodied when the person is really trying to say full flavored. In fact, it has become so cmmon, I just expect it.
i think as the times change so does the definition, what we consider fulltoday may not be what we consider full 5 years from now, thing is with all the new botique cigar makers out there now, we ae experencing a lot more than what general or altidis does. i think well see some stronger cigars to come, but not many more, somewhere like good hot thai food we as humans will find our limit, until then some cigars will move from the full to med full position. i dont see a full + , i mean haw can you have more of somethkng when your already full, there should be a 100 point scale leaving 100 reserved for cigars that are so full it would take a army of lumberjacks to smoke just one, i thik a 100 poing scale is the way to go.
Like most things about cigars, body is subjective too. I’m with Rah55 in that people use “body” in different ways. But yes, there needs to be some classification changes. Ultra Full is a term I use or Mega Full for cigars like the Cain or Man O’ War Ruination and then there is solid full that comes between full and Mega Full.
When I am thinking about a cigar and reading your reviews, the body of it is my least concern actually. I am more concerned with how it burns, how it tastes, and just if you guys think it’s worth giving a try. I suppose some of you guys that are really experienced might find that useful but I don’t. I can see a difference from a while back and what was concerned a full body cigar to today however.
I think that whatever is categorized as full will just always be whatever is among the strongest cigars on the market at any given time. The problem is that strength is subjective and varies from cigar to cigar even among sticks from the same box. There is no quantitative measure for strength in a cigar like there is with an alcohol’s proof or an engine’s horsepower so the only way to measure a cigars strength is through comparison and the perceived difference in strength from one cigar to the next.
My opinion about the Edge, and El Cobre is that they are medium bodied cigars. While the Edge is medium bodied, I think it happens to be full-flavored. I think there is a common mix-up in the cigar world between a cigar being full-bodied and full-flavored. The Cain is full bodied and full flavored, but not overly powerful, and the Lx2 falls into the same category for me. I think you should leave it as it is and just distinguish any personal differences since the strength of a cigar is totally objective. The only overly powerful cigar I have every had was the LFD Cheroot, which made me woozy for about 30 minutes the first time I had it.
But I think JB has it pretty well written out there.
I think body and strength are kind of subjective terms. I feel one person’s full strength cigar can be another person’s mild-to-medium.
I think body is supposed to describe the weight and mouthfeel of the smoke. I notice that many times it is used to describe full flavored cigars. There are full flavored cigars with light body (smoke) and there are dense smokes with medium strength flavor. Of course, as many others have said, this is all relative to the smoker and subject to perception.
TLDR version below
It seems like it would make much more sense to come up with stats much like new cars have to go through with crash tests. If each manufacturer would send 5-20 cigars of each new type that they plan to produce to a central place (or a network of places using the same scale) then we could develope tests. Maybe something like these:
Test 1: Cut the end of the cigar and use a draw tester ( much like the one that CAO has in thier DVD). Then average the numbers possibly throwing out the lowest and highest. – I am sure that many of us have tried a new cigar and it was either like drawing air through a straw or it was like sucking a frozen milkshake through a straw. Neither are pleasurable and if that stat was available, we would all find our individual sweet spot.
Test 2: Pull a specific amount of air through a lit cigar into a chamber and then measure the density of the smoke – There is nothing I hate more than smoking a cigar that puts off nearly no smoke. This was my experience with the Cain. While the cigar hits hard (I was a bit woozy afterwards) there was not near the quantity of exhaled smoke as I expected. This is probably due to the ligero, but it still ruined the cigar for me.
Test 3: Have the cigar put in a machine that would rotate it and simulate a person smoking. Record if it had to be relit and how many times, record how long it took to get to a particular point (say 1 1/4 inches from the cut end) , also record if it ran and to what degree (measurement) – Having a machine do this would get rid of the human factor and would show just results of the cigar not the person and time that it was smoked.
Test 4: Nicotine hit. There are tests out there to measure the amount of nicotine in a particular air sample. The same time that test 2 is being run, this one could be run.
Test 5: Finally a subjective test! Flavor. Have it be a 1 through 10 scale where 1 is bland (I tasted nothing, this was purely smoke) to 10 where You tasted flavor in every draw, the flavors were very noticable and easily distinguished. It would also help if that scale had well known cigars placed on it for reference. That way we would have a trueing point for each person that read that review.
Test 6: I do not have a good name for it other than power or strength. This should probably also be on a 10 or 100 point scale with other well known cigars on it for reference points. There are some smokes that you could accidentally inhale a little and it would be barely noticable. There are others that can nearly make you forfeit your lunch if any hits your lungs. I am sure that nicotine plays a role in that, but I don’t think that is the only factor. Depending on what time of day it is and what I have had to eat, determines the type of cigar that I want to smoke.
TLDR(Too long, didn’t read) version
Yes, I think the definitions should change.
Flavor should be from bland to flavorful and it should be a 10 or 100 point scale with with specific cigars listed as refernce points
Strength should be from weak to strong on a 10 or 100 point scale with specific cigars listed as reference points
Leave “bodied” out of the comparison since my subjective view of full bodied could be a 60 ring guage while medium could be a box press 🙂
Whenever I have always been confused by others reviews when they mix up taste/complexity and strength together. When I review a cigar I try to separate the taste/complexity and strength as different ratings. As a novice this I feel is a more accurate way of describing a cigar, especially to a beginner or novice who is still discovering taste and might not want the power of cigar because they are not used to it. For me I like the strength/power of cigar anytime, I love the headiness I get from a cigar, that’s half the enjoyment.
Full bodied, light bodied, medium bodied,….doesn’t much matter to me and ALL of my smoking buddies. If the stick has a sharp ‘pepper’ bite with that dirty cigar taste, it gets snubbed immediatly and chalked up to lesson learned. Too many people get ‘bite’ and full bodied mixed up.