What Are the Different Elements of a Cigar?

October 25, 2019

What Are the Different Elements of a Cigar?

While there are thousands, if not millions of cigar smokers around the world, many do not know the time and skill that goes into making each one.  Today it is a combination of age-old processes and modern technology that makes the amazing cigars we know and love.

In order to not only appreciate a premium cigar but to find the perfect cigar for you, you need to first know how a cigar works.

In today’s article, we are going to break the cigar down into its three main parts and explain what each of these parts brings to your overall cigar experience.

Filler Tobacco

The inside of the cigar is known as the filler.  The filler is the majority of the tobacco used in the cigar. In classifying cigars by their filler, there are two major varieties; long filler and short filler tobaccos.

Long filler cigars use premium tobaccos that are rolled into a tube shape and run the entire length of the cigar. Long filler cigars are mostly all hand-rolled and are known to be of a much higher quality.

Short filler cigars use bits and pieces of various scrap tobacco and are crammed into the desired shape. They are typically machine-made and mass-produced.  This isn’t to say that short filler cigars can’t be of high quality.  A short filler cigar can use higher priming tobacco, but it won’t be a long straight leaf.

The filler provides some of the flavors to the cigar, but is primarily responsible for the aroma, strength and burn.

A cigar being hand-rolled with filler tobacco inside it.

Binder Tobacco

While short filler cigars mostly consist of just an inner and outer layer, premium long, filler cigars have an additional layer known as the binder.

The binder is a tough, thicker leaf, and its primary job is to bind the filler together so that the cigar won’t fall apart.  It is typically the same as wrapper tobacco but may have some visual flaws that keep it from being used as a wrapper.

While the binder will also add flavors and aromas to the smoking experience, it is mostly used for construction purposes.  Binder tobacco is typically taken from the middle or bottom of the tobacco plant, where the leaves are much stronger and more durable. It is important for the binder to be strong, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be attractive visually.

A hand rolled cigar nears completion

Wrapper Tobacco

The wrapper is sometimes considered the most important aspect of a cigar for several reasons.  First, it is the most visible element of the cigar, so it has to be visually attractive in order for the cigar to be appealing. If a wrapper has too many blemishes or appears too rough, it will be discarded or used as a binder.

Secondly, and even more importantly, the wrapper is responsible for a majority of the flavor.  How much of the flavor comes from the wrapper is debatable, but some experts say it offers up close to 70% of the flavor profile.  As discussed in our cigar myths blog, the wrapper color doesn’t dictate strength but rather body and flavor.  For example, a darker cigar will offer up a more rich and robust profile.

The wrapper is typically picked from the very top of the tobacco plant, where the leaves get the most sunlight and are therefore much more flavorful. When smelling a cigar, it is the wrapper that provides its most pungent aromas, so it is of the utmost importance that the wrapper is of the highest quality.

A hand-rolled cigar enters its final stages of production.


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