Cigar Construction 101

Here’s a primer on the anatomy of a cigar. Knowing how it is constructed will enhance your appreciation for its quality and may help you better understand where the flavors are coming from that you enjoy. From the inside out, the stuff in the middle is known as filler tobacco. In premium cigars, the filler tobacco is long leaf tobacco. It is whole, rather than being chopped and processed like tobacco in cigarettes and cheap cigars. In addition, most filler is a blend of tobacco with different flavor profiles, like ingredients in a recipe. The purpose of blending is to balance and combine flavors so that the end result is tastier than any of the tobaccos would have been alone. While it’s not a hard and fast rule, tobaccos from different growing regions tend to be stronger or milder in body based on agricultural factors. Tobacco from Nicaragua is considered stronger – it has more nicotine – than tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, etc. In addition, sun-grown tobacco is stronger than shade-grown tobacco as a general rule, and the top leaves of the tobacco plant known as Ligero leaves are the strongest. The cigar binder is a leaf used to secure the filler. Many times, leaves are chosen that have a neutral flavor, so that the flavor profile being sought by the blender is not disrupted. The wrapper is the outer leaf of tobacco used to finish the cigar. Wrappers are chosen for two reasons: Looks and flavor. The flavor aspect is sometimes overrated because, in reality, it only amounts to six to ten percent of the tobacco volume. Estimates, depending on the wrapper and filler tobacco, are that the wrapper accounts for 15 to 40 percent of the overall taste. The cap of the cigar is the piece of tobacco used to cover the head – that’s where caps go, right? It’s where you’ll make your cut before firing up the cigar. Finally, the head of the cigar is the part you draw from, the foot is the end you light and the barrel is the body of the stogie.