Cigar Terminology You Need to Know

June 22, 2015

What is a Cigar Wrapper and Binder?

The wrapper is the most important and most expensive part of a cigar. Typically grown under a gauze tent (shade) to prevent the leaf from growing too thick, the wrapper must be smooth and have very few veins.

The majority of a cigar’s flavor is derived from the wrapper.

Binders usually come from the bottom part of the plant, where the leaves are thicker and have more strength. These leaves usually have little or no flavor.

What is Cigar Filler?

The filler can be from any part of the tobacco plant. The top of the plant usually produces the strongest flavor, while the bottom produces the tobacco with the best burning properties.

Most cigars have blended fillers (fillers from varying parts of the plant and varying sources) to achieve the desired taste and optimum burning qualities.

What Does The Term "Body" Mean?

When someone says full-body, many people mistake this for the strength.  In fact, the body is quite different from its strength. The body refers to the amount of flavor produced by the cigar.

I like to use a beer analogy to explain this.  Strong beer has a higher alcohol content, but a full-bodied beer has more flavor.  For example, Natty Daddy is stronger then Yuengling, but Yuengling is much more full-bodied then Natty Daddy.

What Do The Terms "Blume" And "Plume" Mean?

This is one of the more controversial terms in the industry.  Plume, or Blume, is the crystallization effect that occurs when a cigar has been aged properly, usually in a darker, more enclosed environment.

It is a slight, white powder that will appear on the wrapper, and is easily removed by brushing it with your finger.  Blume is evidence that the cigar has been aged in perfect conditions and will offer the optimal smoking experience.

While many customers think that Blume was made up of the cigar industry, I’ll tell you as a serious cigar smoker, I would smoke a cigar with Blume any day of the week.

What Does The Term "Herf" Mean?

A herf is basically a cigar gathering, or party hosted by cigar smokers.  It’s a great time to make new friends in the community, learn more about the industry, and trade cigars with your fellow cigar smokers.

If you are interested in the details of a herf, check out my previous article explaining it.

What Does The Word "Draw" Mean?

A cigar’s draw is basically how well you can pull smoke from the cigar while puffing.  A cigar that has a tight draw will produce very little smoke.  This might mean that you didn’t cut it correctly, or it is plugged perhaps by a tobacco stem.  A cigar that has a nice open draw will produce a great amount of smoke that you will be able to pull with a very light drag.

The draw of a cigar is important, not just for your overall enjoyment, but to judge the quality of the cigar.  There is a balance between an over open draw and one that is way too tough.  The more cigars you smoke, the more you’ll be able to judge a good draw from a bad one.

What Does "Ligero" Mean?

Ligero is a term you might hear quite often when smoking a fuller body or a stronger cigar.  Ligero actually refers not to a tobacco strain, but to the tobacco that grows at the top of the tobacco plant.

A tobacco plant ripens from the bottom up, so the top leaves take much longer to ripen.  They are exposed to more direct sunlight and therefore are much thicker and offer a heavier and spicier flavor.

Due to the increased strength and flavor, Ligero tobacco is usually placed in a cigar to beef up the strength and profile.  It is often placed at the front of a cigar so that the flavor will pull through and stay for the entire smoke.

Ligero has become much more popular over recent years, as stronger, fuller cigars have become the norm.

What Does "Cap" Mean?

The cap of a cigar is simple to identify, as it is a piece of tobacco that covers the head to help secure the wrapper leaf in place.  While many people believe the wrapper is just one solid piece, the cap is often a small piece of wrapper tobacco that is placed on separately after the cigar has been rolled.

There are a few types of caps that are recognizable.  A triple cap, or Cuban cap, is seen with three distinct lines at the head of a cigar.  The cap is important to see where you want to cut the cigar.  Rule of thumb dictates to cut just above the cap line.  This ensures that the cap and wrapper will stay intact.

What Does The Term "Cold Draw" Mean?

This is a term you might see a lot in review blogs or from a cigar review video.  The cold draw is the act of cutting a cigar and puffing on the end of it before you light it.

This might seem ridiculous and pointless, but usually, it is a preferred process when doing a detailed cigar review.

A cold draw will give you some hints at the flavors to come when you light the cigar.  While a burning cigar will taste different, a cold draw helps identify what your profile should be.


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