Learn How to Speak Cigarese with our Glossary

Walking into a cigar shop can be a very intimidating experience. From the minute you enter the shop, you start hearing words such as wrapper, binder, filler, torpedo, Churchill, robusto, Connecticut broadleaf, Sumatran, and a whole bunch of other odd words and phrases. It can make you feel like a stranger in a strange land where everyone speaks “Cigarese.”

But don’t worry, we're here to help. We understand how confusing these terms sound, and how hard it is to grasp their meaning. It is why we created a glossary of the most commonly used terms in the cigar world.

Whether you’re a novice cigar smoker who wants to learn about cigars, or a veteran cigar aficionado who wants to brush up on the lingo, by getting familiar with the terms below you will soon be speaking “Cigarese”.

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 appearance and flavor. On our website, you will find a description for each cigar, the origin of the different tobaccos that make up the filler, binder and wrapper, and much more.

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 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 give cigars different tastes and characteristics. The different colors are:

  1. Double Claro: Is a light green wrapper also called American Market Selection or Candela. It produces a very mild flavor.
  2. Claro: Is a light tan wrapper, usually shade-grown wrappers like Connecticut Shade. It creates a mild, smooth flavor.
  3. Natural: Is a light brown to brown wrapper, also called English Market Selection, or sun-grown. Natural wrappers provide a fuller bodied flavor than the Claro.
  4. Colorado: Is reddish dark brown. Colorado wrappers create a robust and rich flavor.
  5. Colorado Maduro: Dark brown in color, the Colorado Maduro produces an aromatic and rich medium flavor.

Flavor and strength: The flavor is what smokers perceive as the taste of a 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? Describing a cigar’s flavor can get 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.

Humidor: The best way to ensure your cigars stay fresh is to store them in a humidor. A humidor is a sealed box or container designed to store cigars and keep them at a constant humidity level of 70%.

Humidifier: A humidifier is a device that maintains and generates the humidor’s relative humidity. There are two types of humidifiers: active and passive. Active humidifiers are usually used in large and walk-in humidifiers. They produce humidity mechanically or electrically. Passive humidifiers have no electrical parts and are more commonly used in small humidors.

Hygrometer: A hygrometer is an instrument that measures the humidity level in a humidor. The two most common types of hygrometers are analog and digital. Analog hygrometers need to be manually calibrated. Digital hygrometers have been pre-calibrated at the factory.

Maduro: Refers to a type of wrapper that has a very dark brown color. It is usually has a sweet, strong flavor. The darkest maduro wrapper, called Oscuro, is almost black and stronger than the lighter maduro wrappers; they are usually from Nicaragua, Mexico, Brazil or Connecticut Broadleaf.

Shape: Cigars can be classified in two basic categories: Parejos are cigars with straight sides, rounded heads and open foots; and Figurados are cigars with irregular sides or cigars that have a unique shape (these are very difficult to make). Some of the most popular Figurado shapes are Belicoso, Pyramids, Torpedo, Perfecto, and Diademas.

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 cigars, so they will have a more complex flavor and produce more smoke. The most popular sizes are: Panatela, Corona, Lonsdale, Robusto, Churchill and Double Corona. The exact sizes will vary from brand to brand.

Ash: This is the burning end of a cigar. If your cigar has a white ash, this means that the tobacco was grown in soil rich in magnesium. If your stick produces a black ash, the tobacco was most likely grown in soil that lacked proper nutrients.

Band: Like a family coat of arms, a cigar’s band can tell you a lot about the cigar. A cigar band is a paper ring that is wrapped near the head of the cigar. Typically, the band will tell you the name of the brand, country of origin, and if the cigar is handmade. The band’s graphic usually represents a historic event or an image of personal interest to the cigar maker such as a family dog.

Draw: The amount of air that gets pulled through a lit cigar. A draw can be plugged or too tight which means that the air does not flow easily. A hot draw means the air flows too easily.

Cold Draw: A cold draw, aka as a dry draw or cold taste, is when a cigar is clipped and air is sucked through it prior to lighting. Cigar experts use the cold draw to determine a cigar’s draw and it helps them pre-determine a cigar’s taste.

Dipping: You can dip your chip, but whatever you do, don’t dip your cigar. Dipping is when you dip your cigar in any spirits, wine, or beer. It is very frowned upon by cigar aficionados.

Wheel: This term refers to a bundle of 100 cigars. Cigar rollers use a ribbon to tie the cigars they produce into wheels.

Half Wheel: This term refers to a bundle of 50 cigars. Like the wheel, cigar rollers tie the cigars they produce with a ribbon into half wheels.

Tunneling: This is when your cigar burns unevenly. To prevent tunneling (aka canoeing), rotate your lit cigar every now and then.

Spill: This a very formal way to light a cigar. Instead of a match or a lighter, a strip of Spanish cedar (aka spill) is used to light the cigar. Once lit, the spill is used to toast the foot of the cigar.

Finish: When cigar tasters talk about the cigar’s finish, they are referring to the taste the cigar leaves on the palette after taking a puff.

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