Q: How many leaves are used in handmade cigars?
A: If you’re referring to premium handmade cigars it can be any number, because the number of leaves used is determined by 1) the proportions of the cigar, and 2) the taste, strength, etc., the master blender wants to achieve.
There are no set rules when it comes to the number of leaves a blender can use in a premium handmade cigars. The basic recipe consists of three long-filler leaves (Ligero, Viso, and Seco), the binder leaf (usually Volado), and finally, the wrapper leaf, which is also the most expensive of the leaves. Again, depending on the blend and size of the cigar, you can use more or less of the three filler leaves. (I’ve heard tell of a cigar coming out later this year that’s blended with 10 tobacco leaves. That could be a first!) Some manufacturers, like the original CAO cigars and Drew Estate are known for using leaves from countries outside of Central and South America in some of their cigars.
Lately, a lot of manufacturers have begun using double binders in their cigars; for example, one Nicaraguan, and one Honduran, or Dominican, or whatever works. This method, like most blending and rolling techniques, stems from the Cuban cigar tradition.
Suffice it to say, thinner cigars like Lanceros and Petit Coronas will have fewer filler leaves, offering more wrapper flavor, whereas thicker cigars like Robustos, Double Coronas, and Grand Toros allow for more tobacco. Therefore, the latter tend to be more flavorful and complex. If you like Toros, which are mostly 6″ x 50, you’d probably notice the difference – and agree.