The rise of the big ring gauge cigars is not new news. Last year, during our 2012 IPCPR Preview, we noted that ring gauges were moving past the 60 ring gauge mark. Now a year later, it appears that 70 ring gauge cigars are now a part of many cigar maker’s strategy. Recently Asylum 13’s 80 ring gauge cigar now has raised the bar even further. RoMa Craft Tobac has even been toying with a 100+ ring gauge cigar for their CroMagnon blend – although it appears to be in an experimental stage. Many hard-core cigar enthusiasts have long panned the 60 ring gauge cigars and this seems to have intensified with the releases of the 60+ ring gauge cigars. So the question becomes – is this hurting the cigar industry? I think not and will unveil a few talking points on why this is not doomsday for the cigar industry. The purpose of these points is not to say bigger is better, but to look at some of the positives that can come out of big ring gauge cigars.
- The Blend Can Work: The key to a big ring cigar is the blend. If you smoked the Tatuaje Gran Cojonu, it is a case study for how a 60 ring gauge cigar should be. In cases with the E.P. Carrillo Inch and yes even the Asylum 13‘s, the 60+ ring gauge has worked well. The problem is when a cigar is blended for a different ring gauge and then adjusted to the larger ones. Basically not every cigar can be a 38 ring gauge lancero – and not every cigar can be a 60/60+ ring gauge. This will simply come down to a case by case basis.
- Big Ring Gauges Promote Cigar Enthusiasm: Ok, you might be thinking a cigar manufacturer is taking a short-cut for sales. However, if the blend is right, then why shouldn’t they take a product to market that works? If it can attract more people to cigars, then why not? Perhaps someone smoking that big ring cigar might not be a person who would pick up a cigar in the first place. If someone enjoys a cigar, then they should be allowed to enjoy it. Perhaps that might be a way to expose them to the world of cigars, and then they can see some of the positives of a smaller ring gauge cigar.
- The Cigar Industry Has Bigger Problems: Some people have been critical of companies that have embraced the big ring gauges. The cigar industry is facing its greatest threat from the outside – namely with the threat of FDA regulation. While everyone is entitled to an opinion, such criticism can divide an industry that already needs to stick together and battle the external forces.