What is Cigar Filler?

April 27, 2022

Handmade cigars have three main components: the wrapper, the binder, and the fillers, which we will be focusing on today.

Beginner aficionados who are starting their journey into the world of premium cigars often ask “what is filler tobacco?”

Put simply, filler tobaccos are the core, the center, the guts of a cigar. The main source of a cigar’s strength, fillers set the stage for the star of the show – the wrapper leaf. Much like a drummer setting the mood and tempo of a song so the lead guitar can play the melody, the fillers set the tone and basis for a completed cigar by establishing the strength level and adding a bit of flavor.

Filler tobaccos make up the majority of the tobaccos in a cigar, which allows a great deal of flexibility for a blender when developing a cigar.

These tobaccos can come from a single country of origin, such as Nicaragua, Honduras, or the Dominican Republic. Some tobacco mixes may even come from several countries. Fillers also utilize leaves from the various parts of the tobacco plant, viso, seco, and ligero, as well as the countless tobacco varietals out there like Habano or Corojo.

The fillers don’t need to be top-of-the-line because they are always obscured, unlike the wrapper, so tobaccos with visual imperfections like veins or blemishes are often used as fillers. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t mean the filler tobaccos are inferior, only that they aren’t as pretty or easy on the eyes. Not that you would normally be looking at them, anyway!

Since there are so many options to use for filler tobaccos, properly blending the fillers is of the utmost importance. Leaves from different countries, different parts of the plant, and different varietals all have their own properties, so leaf selection and placement can hugely impact the final product.

It’s also important for a cigar maker to use the correct quantity of tobaccos used for the fillers, as the proportions have a direct relationship with how the cigar will burn. Too much filler tobacco will cause a cigar to be plugged and tight, while a cigar that is underfilled will burn unevenly or too quickly and hot.

Filler tobaccos come in two forms – long-fillers or short-fillers. Long fillers, which are used for a large majority of handmade cigars on the market, are whole tobacco leaves folded or rolled together to make a cigar. In contrast, short fillers are cut into smaller pieces and mixed together, often composed of leftovers or remnants from tobaccos that were already chopped up.

This isn’t to say a cigar made with short fillers isn’t good. Short fillers, when made with top-quality leaves, can offer a flavorful and satisfying smoking experience at a more affordable price. However, most of the premium cigars you will come across are made entirely with long-fillers.

Fillers are just a component of the many parts that combine to form a top-quality handmade cigar, along with a cigar binder and a cigar wrapper. Find out more about the roles of a cigar binder and a cigar wrapper by checking out our lessons here at the JR Blending Room!



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