The world of cigars is overflowing with variety. As a result, you may encounter copious cigar jargon, making it intimidating for you to explore and enjoy cigars. If you have been reading our cigar-related content, you know by now that we are big fans of the craft. This is why we've come with our list of 10 terms every cigar enthusiast, new or experienced, needs to be familiar with.
Cigar fillers are the tobacco leaves bound together at the center of a cigar and account for most of a cigar's weight and volume. The leaves are folded in a way that allows for an air passage down the length of the cigar.
A "tight" cigar does not allow sufficient airflow, creating a slow, uneven burn. On the other hand, with "loose" cigars, the air flows too freely and creates a fast, hot burn.
A properly constructed filler will mitigate these problems, allowing for a good draw and an even burn.
Quick Note: Hand rolled, premium cigars are typically made entirely from long-filler tobacco (whole tobacco leaves that run the length of a cigar.) Machine-made cigars are made from short-filler tobacco— chopped-up leaves, often leftovers from handmade cigar production.
A wrapper is the outermost tobacco leaf that covers the cigar and is often the most expensive component of the cigar.
Due to the use of different methods of curing and fermentation, cigar wrappers come in a plethora of colors and each has its own signature character and flavor.
Some people argue that wrappers are responsible for at least half of the cigar's flavor, while others believe they primarily play an aesthetic role.
The most popular cigar wrappers include the Connecticut, Corojo, Habano and Maduro.
Quick Note: The general rule of thumb is that lighter wrappers have a dry taste while darker wrappers add sweetness. But this is not true in every case.
A cigar band is a loop made of paper or foil fitted around the body of a cigar to denote its brand or variety. There are many legends about the origin of cigar bands.
For example, some believe that the first cigar bands were created for Catherine the Great to prevent her from getting her fingers dirty while smoking.
But the story with the most credibility is about a European immigrant called Gustave Bock, one of the first Europeans to get involved in the Havana cigar industry.
Gustave migrated to Cuba in the early 19th century and started his own cigar factory. In the 1830s, Bock, seeking to protect his brand and minimize counterfeits, placed a paper ring with his signature on each of his cigars.
The goal was to make it easy for people to know if what they were smoking was authentic. By 1855, nearly every Cuban export brand carried a cigar band.
Over the years, cigar bands became a symbol of prestige, with premium cigar brands embracing ornamental designs such as crests and cloaks.
Quick Note: Whether to smoke a cigar with the band on or off is purely a matter of personal choice. If you want to remove the band, it's best to wait until you have smoked the cigar for a few minutes. The heat will help loosen the band's glue from the wrapper and make it easier to remove.
It's not uncommon to hear someone describe a cigar as "slightly longer than a Corona" or "thinner than a traditional Corona." Historically considered the standard by which most cigars are compared, a Corona cigar measures about 5 ½ -6 inches long, with a ring gauge somewhere around 43-44.
Corona cigars fall into a category of Parejos—straight-sided cigars that can be either rounded in shape or box-pressed.
Quick Note: People new to cigars often ask if the size has an impact on flavor. The answer is NO. Generally, cigar shapes only impact how quickly a cigar burns. Thinner cigars tend to burn faster than thicker ones and vice versa.
A cigar's draw is how well you can pull smoke from the cigar. A cigar with a tight draw will produce very little smoke. A cigar that has a nice open draw will produce a good amount of smoke that you will be able to pull with a very light drag.
The draw of a cigar not only determines your overall enjoyment but will also help you judge the quality of the cigar.
Quick Note: Most quality cigars are draw tested at the factory, often before completing the rolling process. But don't worry, no one is drawing your cigars before you. All this is done using draw testing machines.
Curing is the process of gradually removing moisture from tobacco leaves after harvest. This allows the carotenoids in the leaves to produce chemicals that help create the cigar's sweeter fragrance and flavor aspects.
Curing takes place in special curing barns through a variety of traditional and more contemporary techniques. A combination of temperature and humidity determines the time it takes to cure the tobacco fully. Premium tobaccos are generally cured for around 45 days.
There are essentially four different initial types of tobacco curing methods that contribute to the characteristics of color, aroma, and flavor to the cigars you love.
- Air curing
- Fire curing
- Flue curing
- Sun curing
Quick Note: After going through the curing process, the tobacco leaves are fermented. This final stage, which can take several months or longer, drives impurities such as ammonia out of the leaves. Tar and nicotine are also released during fermentation and other chemicals, all adding to the flavor of a fuller, rounder cigar leaf.
7. Cedar Spill
A cedar spill is a long, thin strip of Spanish cedar used for lighting a cigar. This is a traditional lighting technique that's considered the fashionable, formal way to light cigars. A cedar spill is ignited using a candle, match, or lighter and then used to slowly toast the foot of a cigar.
This method ensures zero impurities from lighter fuel or match sulfur are transferred to the cigar.
Quick Note: Cedar spills can create very long, messy ashes, so care must be taken when using this method.
8. Cigar Case
A cigar case is a sound investment for any cigar aficionado. Cigar cases are designed to transport a small number of cigars safely in your luggage or in clothing. Their primary role is to protect your cigars from being damaged and keeps them fresh.
A high-quality cigar case should be lightweight, portable and able to withstand scrapes, bumps, and the occasional accidental drop. This is the perfect storage solution if you want to enjoy your cigars on the go.
Quick Note: Cigar cases come in a wide range of sizes, designs and can be made of leather, wood, metal, carbon, plastic or a combination of these materials. So you are bound to find something that suits your preferences and smoking habits.
9. Cigar Bar
A cigar bar (or lounge) is an establishment that caters to patrons who smoke cigars. For years, cigar lounges have long been a place for members of the cigar community to sit together, relax, and bond over their shared passion for cigars.
The rise in the popularity of cigar lounges can be attributed to the smoking bans instituted in the last few decades. In these establishments, cigar lovers can fire up freely without facing the disapproval of the general public, who might not like cigars.
Quick Note: Every cigar lounge has defined decorum that must be followed for everyone to enjoy their experience to the fullest. So make sure you are up to date with cigar lounge etiquette. For example, when you visit a cigar lounge and use their facility to smoke, be sure to purchase at least one cigar to support the business.
Finish is a tasting term commonly used by wine tasters. It refers to texture and flavor that resonate on your palate after you've taken a puff and expelled the smoke.
Mild cigars do not have much finish, while more robust, full-bodied cigars have distinctive flavors that linger for a while.
A cigar's finish is critical to its overall flavor profile and can determine whether your impression of the cigar is good or bad.
Sometimes you might encounter an undesirable bitter finish. This may or may not indicate you're smoking a bad cigar. For example, if your cigar is naturally bitter, most likely, the tobacco was not fermented long enough.
A harsh or metallic taste is often evidence of this. Also, how you cut your cigar and how you light your cigar can impact the presentation on your palette. There are other factors that can lead to a bitter finish, such as if your cigar has dried out.
Quick Note: Some finishes you'll encounter in premium handmade cigars include: