Cigars 101

How the Components of a Cigar Work Together

A primer on the components of premium handrolled cigars and how they “marry” to create each unique blend.

It’s hard to believe that premium handmade cigars, which appear to be simply made, are actually very complicated. There are at least 300 steps, not to mention several years of aging that go into the making of each cigar. If you’ve been following Nick Perdomo’s series on making cigars, you’ve seen how much time, labor and skill it takes to make good cigars on a consistent basis.

Though it takes plenty of skill to properly roll a cigar, the components are limited to essentially three parts: The filler (tripa), the binder (banda), and the wrapper (capa or capote); the latter being the most expensive component. The reason for this is, only so many leaves make it as wrappers, because the leaf must be virtually flawless; no tears, holes or other blemishes.

The Filler: This is the core of the cigar, mainly comprised of Seco, Viso, and Ligero leaves. By the time these tobaccos make it to the rolling table, they have been bale-aged up to three years or more. The master blender decides which filler leaves from each bale are the best combination for a specific blend. Seco leaves come from the plant’s mid-lower primings, and are used for their moderate flavor and good burning qualities. Viso leaves come from the middle part of the plant somewhere below the top Ligero leaves and above the Seco leaves. Ligero leaves come from the top of the plant. Since they are exposed to the most sunlight, the leaves are thicker and much stronger in flavor. Volado leaves, from the very bottom of the plant are often included for their mildness, sweetness, and good combustion properties.

The Binder: A dense leaf with excellent burning properties. This leaf, which is up to the discretion of the blender, is rolled around the filler and helps the bunch keep its shape when placed in the molds.

The Wrapper Leaf: The final stage of rolling. The molds are placed on the roller’s table where the wrapper leaves are deftly applied for a smooth, seamless finish. Popular wrapper leaves used today are U.S. Shade or Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut, Habano, Corojo, Criollo, Broadleaf, Brazilian Mata Fina or Arapiraca, Mexican San Andres, Indonesian or Ecuadorian-grown Sumatra, and African Cameroon. The wrapper also plays a big role in the overall strength, character and flavor of the cigar.

Put them all together, send the cigars to the aging room for anywhere from six months to several years. If the master blender did his job, the cigar will convey just the right amount of flavor, complexity, and strength he intended. The result is a cigar you will enjoy time and again.

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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