Whether you are buying a gift or are new at cigar smoking, it is useful to learn the meaning of the terms that are commonly used to describe cigars:
Composition: A cigar has three parts: filler, binder and wrapper. The filler is the inner part made of tobacco leaves that are folded accordion-style by the rollers or torcedores. The binder is what keeps (or binds) the filler leaves together. Finally, the wrapper is a beautiful and delicate tobacco leaf that is wrapped around the binder. The wrapper gives the cigar its good looks. On our website, you will find a description for each cigar of the origin of the different tobaccos that make up the filler, binder and wrapper.
Country: This refers to the country where the cigar is manufactured. Most cigar producing countries use different tobaccos from all over the world in their blends or as binders or wrappers. A “puro” refers to a cigar that has only tobaccos from one country.
Color: Frequently cigars are classified by the color of their wrapper. Each wrapper color is obtained from different leaves and curing methods so it is safe to say that different wrappers will give a cigar different tastes and characteristics. The different colors are:
- Double Claro: Light green wrapper also called American Market Selection or Candela, very mild flavor.
- Claro: Light tan wrapper, usually shade-grown wrappers like Connecticut Shade, mild and smooth flavor.
- Natural: Light brown to brown, also called English Market Selection, often sun-grown wrappers, fuller bodied flavor than the Claro.
- Colorado: Reddish dark brown, robust and rich flavor.
- Colorado Maduro: Dark brown, aromatic and rich medium flavor.
- Maduro: Very dark brown, usually sweet and strong flavor. The darkest maduro wrapper, called Oscuro, is almost black and stronger than the lighter maduro wrappers, usually from Nicaragua, Mexico, Brazil or Connecticut Broadleaf.
Size: The size of a cigar is measured in inches (length) and ring gauge (diameter=ring gauge/64th inch). Large ring gauge cigars contain more tobacco and possibly a larger combination of different types of leaves than small ring gauge cigars, so they will have a more complex flavor and produce more smoke in comparison. The most popular sizes are: Panatela, Corona, Lonsdale, Robusto, Churchill and Double Corona. The exact sizes will vary from brand to brand.
Shape: Cigars can be classified in two basic categories: Parejos, cigars with straight sides, rounded heads and open foots; and Figurados, cigars with irregular sides or cigars that are very difficult to make. Some of the most popular Figurado shapes are: Belicoso, Pyramids, Torpedo, Perfecto, and Diademas.
Flavor and strength: This is where it gets interesting. The flavor is what smokers perceive as the taste of a particular cigar. It often depends on various factors: How old is the cigar? Is it too dry, too humid or just right? What did you eat before? What are you drinking during? It gets very complicated. Some of the adjectives used to describe a cigar’s flavor are: leathery, peppery, woody, earthy, nutty, creamy, etc. Cigars can also be described as full (strong), medium or mild (delicate) bodied. Body refers to the strength or intensity of the smoke. It is a matter of personal preference but veteran smokers tend to prefer full bodied or full flavored smokes. Likewise, new cigar smokers will prefer a cigar with a gentler flavor.