5 Key Differences Between Cigars and Cigarillos

Cigars and cigarillos have a lot in common. They both consist of tobacco wrapped for smoking with a tobacco-based outer leaf. The similarities between cigars and cigarillos can lead some people to confuse the two products, but they actually differ in some crucial ways.

1. Size
The number one difference between cigars and cigarillos is size. Cigars are significantly larger, often more than six inches, and can be up to one inch thick. Cigarillos are much smaller, generally around 3.5 inches long and less than half an inch thick.

2. Composition
Full-size cigars are made of a filler of bunched-up tobacco rolled in special tobacco leaves grown specifically for cigar wrappers. The flavor of a cigar comes predominantly from its wrapper leaves, which are grown in a variety of ways to impart different characteristics to different cigars. Cigarillos, in contrast, are often filled with chopped up tobacco and wrapped in a paper made from tobacco pulp. Some cigarillos also incorporate a filter or plastic mouthpiece into their design.

3. Flavor
Cigars taste only of the tobacco leaves in the wrapper and filler. This gives them a robust, complex tobacco flavor. Cigars from different parts of the world have their own distinctive flavor profiles, just like wines from different regions. Conversely, cigarillos are usually manufactured to have a uniform flavor from one to the next. Many popular brands of cigarillos are made with sugar and artificial flavors to impart a sweet taste. The tobacco flavor is less detectable in cigarillos than in full size cigars.

4. Smoking Procedure
To smoke a cigar, you have to first carefully cut off the mouthpiece end and then light the other end gently, holding it close to the flame without touching. You then puff on the cigar without inhalation, bringing the smoke into your mouth and then exhaling. Cigars take quite a long time to smoke relative to cigarettes and cigarillos, as long as an hour or more. Cigarillos have pre-cut ends and are lit like cigarettes by letting a flame touch the tip. They take much less time to smoke, only around ten minutes. Cigarillos are not supposed to be inhaled, but some people inhale when smoking filtered cigarillos.

5. Storage
Most cigar smokers don’t smoke very frequently, so they sometimes need to store cigars in special climate-controlled boxes called humidors. Humidors preserve the freshness and flavor of cigars for a relatively long time. This kind of storage is not necessary for cigarillos, as they are usually sold in packs and meant to be smoked in quantities similar to cigarettes.