Cigar Things You Don't Understand

Ask them here. Wrapper leaves. Different kinds of cutters, countries from which they come....etc

Anything............ Go ahead. The Don will do the Don's damnedest to answer them

The Don

splain me wrapper leaves, styles and sizes. Homes.

Handmade cigars have three constituent parts--the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. Each of the parts has a different function when the cigar is actually smoked.

The outside wrapper (or capa) dictates the cigar's appearance. It is always grown under guaze and fermented separately from other leaves to ensure that it is smooth, not too oily, and has a subtle bouguet. It also has to be soft and pliable so that it is easy for the roller to handle.

Wrapper leaves from different plantations have varying colors (and thus subtly different flavors, more sugary if they are darker, for instance) and are used for different brands. Good wrapper leaves have to be elastic and must have no protruding veins. They have to be matured for between one year and 18 months, the longer the better. Wrqppers of handmade non-Cuban cigars might come from Connecticut, Cameroon, Sumatra, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica or Nicaragua. The wrapper is the most expensive part of the cigar.

The binder leaf (capote) holds the cigar together and is usually two halves of coarse sun-grown leaf from the upper part of the plant, chosen because of its good tensile strength.

The filler is made of separate leaves folded by hand along their length, to allow a passage through which smoke can be drawn when the cigar if lit. The fold can be properly achieved by hand and is the primary reason why machine-made cigars are less satisfactory. This style of arranging the filler is sometimes called the "book" style--which means that if you were to cut the cigar down its length with a razor, the filler leaves would resemble the pages of a book. In the past, the filler was sometimes arrangedusing the "entubar" method--with up to eight narrow tubes of tobacco leaf rolled into the binder--making the cigar very slow burning.

Three different types of leaf are normally used for the filler (in fatter sizes, like Montecristo No. 2, a fourth type is also used). Ligero leaves from the top of the plant are dark and full in flavor as a result of oils produced by exposure to sunlight. They have to be matured for at least two years before they can be used in cigar making. Ligero tobacco is always placed in the middle of the cigar, because it burns slowly. Seco leaves, from the middle of the plant, are much lighter in color and flavor. They are usually used after maturing for around 18 months. Volado leaves, from the bottom of the plant, have little or no flavor, but they have good burning qualities. They are matured for about nine months before use.

The precise blend of these different leaves in the filler dictates the flavor of each brand and size. A full-bodied cigar like Ramon Allones will, for instance, have a high proportion of ligero in its filler, than a mild cigar such as H. Upmann, where seco and volado will predominate. Small, thin cigars will very often have no ligero tobacco leaf in them at all. The consistencyof a blend is achieved by using tobacco from different harvest and farms, so a large stock of matured tobacco is essential to the process.


The wrapper is the outside layer of tobacco on a cigar. It gives a cigar one of its primary flavor components. Wrappers are usually very high quality leaves, and are available in colors ranging from double claro, the lightest to Oscuro, the darkest. Wrappers are very important to the taste of a fine cigar.


Binder leaves are the intermediate leaf used to hold the bunch of filler tobacco together. These vary considerably from one manufacturer to the next.


Filler is the bunch of tobacco found at the center of the cigar. Generally the filler is responsible for determining how strong a cigar will smoke. There are two types of filler: long filler, which contains the whole leaf running from the head to the foot of the cigar, and short filler, comprised of scraps of tobacco (often the trimmed ends of long fillers).

The blending of wrappers, fillers and binders determines the overall flavor of a cigar. There is an art to blending tobaccos and as you smoke different cigars, you will notice how the various tobaccos interplay with one another.

Are there any differences between the blends of different size cigars in the same line?
Manufacturers often use the same types of tobacco in different sizes, producing different tastes. Often the consumer will perceive this as the same "blend". There is a difference however - it's in the proportions of each type of leaf used. An experienced roller may use different proportions of the tobaccos in different sizes to allow for that size differences. In a smaller ring cigar, the binder and wrapper have a greater influence on the taste, for instance. The blender will allow for this difference by re-proportioning the filler blend. It's just one of those details that requires years of training among master rollers. (and of course, one of the reasons smokers will prefer the taste of one size over another of the same blend....

The Cigar Cutter

There are many different types and brands of cigar cutters on the market. The most popular is the guillotine type which slices off the end of a cigar with a straight cut. This is the type I prefer. They make both a single blade and a double blade guillotine cutter. The double blade is nice because it cuts the cigar from both sides which helps prevent tearing of the wrapper and they are generally self-sharpening.. Guillotine cutters range in price from two dollars for the inexpensive single blade type to more than fifty dollars and up for some of the double bladed type. Another type of cutter punches a circular hole in the end of the cigar. These plug cutters are relatively inexpensive but do not allow you to control the draw of the cigar ( unless you have three different sizes). The third type cuts a V shaped notch into the end of the cigar (also called a "cat's eye"). I have not seen too many of these in use, however, your local cigar shop will have all three types. You can also find a mini-drill which you can use to make one to three holes in the cap based on your preference. Experiment by trying all types of cutters before buying to make sure you get the one you prefer. Here is an emergency tip; if you're on the golf course and you forgot your cutter, wet the end of your cigar (by mouth), take a clean tee and push the pointed end into the center of the cap of the cigar and push it in (slowly)about half way then pull it out gently. I have found this works fairly well as oppose to biting the end off, which in MY opinion, is a terrible thing to do to a beautiful cigar.

The Lighter At last count there were about 3.2 zillion different lighters available. Here's what you need to know. Find a butane lighter that has as wide a flame as possible. Period. There are many different types and brands and designs of lighter. Like pens, I seem to frequently misplace mine and therefore opt for an inexpensive lighter. I was at Allan Kern's office (senior editor of CLM) the other day and he was showing me this lighter that was literally a blow torch. The thing would light a stogie in 100 mph winds. It also comes in handy in case you have any welding to do around the house. When using your lighter to light your cigar, be sure to allow the flame to burn for three to four seconds prior to lighting your cigar to let any residual butane burn off. Enough already on lighters, let's move on.

The Humidor
Last, but not least, in my opinion, the most essential item to keep those cigars fresh and enjoyable. There are several key factors to consider when purchasing a humidor. The first is size. Do not buy a small humidor (one that holds less than seventy five cigars). The second is cost. A humidor is something you will have for a long, long time. Make sure you get the one you like, even if it costs a bit more. In the long run it will be worth the investment. Go to several cigar shops when looking for a humidor. Each shop will have a pretty good selection, but be sure to visit several to make sure you find the one with which you're happy. Humidors are also available through catalogs but unless you have seen it first, do not buy it. Take your time when making your selection and your diligence will be rewarded with a quality humidor you will enjoy for many years to come!

Now that we have covered the essential accessories, let's talk about cigar dinners. Cigar dinners are a wonderful way to meet exciting people who also enjoy the attributes of a fine cigar. I have been to several different cigar dinners, making new acquaintances each time. Some cigar diners are better than others. I highly recommend you try several until you find the establishment you prefer. The better cigar dinners I have attended start with a cocktail hour serving quality single malt scotches, single barrel bourbons and fine ports. They have included anywhere from two to five cigars. I suggest you bring your cigar case along with one of your own cigars just in case you do not care for the cigars that are given. There is usually a three to five course meal served and price ranges from about $45.00 to a as much as $350.00. I highly recommend you give these a try. Call up your buddies or your girl friends and make a night of it. I guarantee you will have a good time!

Another fun idea is to have your own cigar dinner at a cigar friendly establishment in your area. This allows you the flexibility of time and date. Just call the establishment a few days in advance and most will give you the option of making a pre-set dinner menu for a fixed price or just ordering off the menu. This is great way for you and your friends to unwind and relax after a busy and hectic week.

I read somewhere, not to long ago, that the median net worth of the average cigar smoker is upwards of a million dollars. Well, I'm here to tell you I am one of those guys that skew that statistic. If a cigar dinner is above and beyond your current financial obligations or you would like to get together more often with your cronies but don't want to spend $100.00 or more, here is a great idea that I myself have tried with great success. Throw your own cigar dinner at your own place. You will find that you can have the best steaks, fine wines, and great cigars for less than $25.00 a person, and if everyone pitches in , it will be a piece of cake

#2: Made popular by The Montecristo #2, this is a smaller torpedo shape.

A: This old Cuban size is 9 inches long with a 48 ring gauge.

Churchill: Traditionally, the churchill is held to be a larger cigar made popular by Winston Churchill. Normally it is 7 1/2 inches long with a 50 ring gauge.

Cigarillo: A small cigar around the size of a cigarette.

Corona: Traditionally this cigar is 6 inches with a 44 ring gauge.

Culebra: Three cigars of any size braided together form this shape. Yes you pull them apart before smoking!

Double Corona: A larger, but not quite double, corona cigar that is 7 inches long with a 50 or more ring gauge.

Esplendido: Made popular by the Cohiba, this size is about 7 1/2 inches with a 50 ring gauge.

Figurado: Any shaped cigar such as a torpedo or perfecto.

Longsdale: A longer thinner cigar that is 6 inches by 42 ring gauge.

Panatela: A long thin cigar that is 6 1/2 inches by 28 ring gauge.

Perfecto: A classic shape that has a 48 ring in the middle and tapers on both ends.

Presidente: A larger cigar that is 8 1/2 inches long and a 52 ring gauge.

Pyramid: A cigar with a larger ring gauge end that uniformly tapers to a small ring gauge end.

Robusto: A short fat cigar about 5 inches long and with a 50 ring gauge.

Torbusto: A new shape that combines the torpedo, toro, and robusto shapes. Made to date only by Altadis.

Toro: A new shape that is 6 inches long with a 50 ring gauge.

Torpedo: The bulk of the barrel is a larger ring (often 50+) that after 3/4 of the cigar tapers to a point.

OK, enough copy and paste, but those sites did a pretty good job explaining shit, at least the parts I actually read.

1 thing I didn't see them explain and that's ring gauge of a cigar. Each number is 1/64 of an inch. So, a 48 would be 3/4 of an inch in diameter. IF you smoke anything of a 70 ring gauge cigar, call me, I gotta special job for ya.

Don Juan Marcos

OK, another-----------------

A.M.S. or American Market Standard wrappers are light green in color and offer a sweet sour flavor that is akin to green apples. Also known as Double Claro, Jade, and Candela, these wrappers are primarily grown in The United States and were extremely popular during the origins of the cigar industry in the USA. Ironically, even though this wrapper is uniquely American, this leaf is unpopular today.

E.M.S. or English Market Standard wrappers are rich brown in color and are truly the industry standard today. Made popular by English smokers in the 19th century, this wrapper is also known for its variant names such as Claro (somewhat lighter), Colorado (somewhat richer in color), and Natural; a catch-all term for this category. The best E.M.S. wrappers are grown in the Vueleta Abajo region in Cuba, Connecticut, and Cameroon.

Maduro wrappers are now very popular and can be easily spotted by their dark brown to black colors. This color is achieved by allowing the temperature during fermentation to surpass 165 F. This process requires are thicker wrapper to achieve a rich, sweet, smooth flavor that is popular with more experienced smokers looking for more flavor. Other grades of this leaf are known as Double Maduro and Oscuro. The best maduro wrappers come from Connecticut and the San Andreas region of Mexico.

Common Cigar Terms: Cigars 101
• A Brief History of Cigars
• Cigar Components
• Cigar Wrappers
• Cigar Binders
• Cigar Fillers
• Cigar Sizes
• Selecting a Cigar
• Common Misnomers

Cigar Glossary
• Common Terms
• Sizes
• Wrappers

Barrel: This is the body of the cigar sometimes called the canon.

Binder: The cigar leaf that holds the cigar filler and wrapper together.

Box Press: An old way of pressing cigars by rolling them in one process and then after placing them in the box simply nailing the box shut. This provides a square shape that has been made popular by Padron. Also known as a Prensado.

Filler: The cigar leaf that is rolled and blended to provide the bulk of the cigar.

Hand: A grouping of about 20 cigar leafs of the same harvest. This is how wrappers and binders are often sold.

Plume: A formation of oil crystals collecting on the wrapper. This is a natural process that occurs when the cigars are stored in dark humid conditions and is considered to be beneficial.

Puros: A cigar whose wrapper, binder, and filler all come from the same country.

Ring Gauge: A cigar is measured by ring gauges which is 1/64 of an inch of the diameter of the thickness of a cigar. Hence a cigar with a 49 ring gauge would have the diameter in thickness of 49/64 inches.

Sticks: A vulgar term for how many cigars in a grouping.

Wrapper: The outside cigar leaf that is visible at first glance.

w00t thanks Don JM :)

The Don says you are welcome. The Don also is anticipating meeting up with fellow mod Juanito in 2 weeks

IF you smoke anything of a 70 ring gauge cigar, call me, I gotta special job for ya.


Good stuff Don!

awsome job Don JM! I'm gonna save this thread so I can refer back to it from time to time.

I appreciate the appreciation from the famiglia.


please elaborate on the "cigar case" mentioned in the "cigar dinner" portion of this fine and educational thread.

thank you.

by the way, since being given a couple of cuban monte cristos i have become a cigar freak. i never really liked them before that. now i'm shopping for a humidor and have a 1/2 box of monte cristos coming.

until then don, what would you recommend that i can find at the local cigar shop....i might get in on your next cigar purchase.

Cigar cases are usually leather and can hold from 1-4 cigars. Good stuff about them: keep your cigars safe from getting messed up in your jacket pocket or where ever you keep them. Bad thing is they don't have any humidification, so they are only safe for the cigar for 12 hours at the most.

I've seen plastic 1's for 7.95 that hold 2 cigars and leather 1's that are over 100. ASk your local tobacconist for his selection and what he suggests.

Good cigars for the Cuban smoker: Padron, El Rey Del Mundo, Cupido, and La Rosa natural

Good luck!

The Don

gracias. uno mas question por favor senor don...

if i take a couple of cigars to vegas in a cigar case for a long weekend, will they survive?

also, my shipment of cubans will be arriving via secret carrier disguised as simple stoggies from an innocuous central american country. the journey will expose them to many days of elements not befitting cigars of their high stature. will my as yet to be purchased humidor be able to repair any damage they may incur on the journey?

thanks for the cigar tips...are they expensive?

Thanks JM very informative!

"if i take a couple of cigars to vegas in a cigar case for a long weekend, will they survive?"

Probably not in the case, keep them in a humidified environment (a damp kleenex or a credo, in a cigar box will suffice as will Tupperware). Then put them in your leather case when you hit the casino.

FS, very welcome