Every cigar is constructed of three different parts. They are the wrapper, binder, and filler. Individually the tobaccos that make up these parts have their own flavor profile, but when combined together they create a flavor that is unique to that particular blend. These different blends can contain tobaccos from one country or region or a combination of countries and regions.
Wrapper- The wrapper of a cigar is the outside leaf of tobacco on a cigar. The wrapper should be free from sun spots and veins and should be uniform in color. The wrapper is responsible for a large majority of the cigars flavor.
- Claro/ Connecticut Shade- light colored wrapper that is typically grown under cheese cloth.
- Double Claro/ Candela- Light green colored wrapper that is picked before the leaf is picked before maturity and then dried quickly to retain the chlorophyll.
- Colorado/ corojo/ rosado- reddish brown wrapper
- Maduro- A wrapper leaf that has undergone a longer more intense fermentation process that results in a darker wrapper color and yields richer, earthier and sweeter flavors.
- Oscuro- Almost black in color the oscuro wrapper tends to result in a fuller bodied smoke.
Binder- The binder is the second layer of tobacco leaf in the cigar. The primary purpose of the binder is to keep the filler leaves bound together.
Filler- The filler tobacco makes up the middle of the cigar. The filler can be composed of several different tobaccos.
Shapes and Sizes
Cigars come in many different shapes and sizes. The size of a cigar plays a major role in the flavor, draw and length of time that cigar will burn.
Corona-5 ¼” by 44 RG
Lonsdale- 6 ½” by 42 RG
Robusto-5” by 50 RG
Toro- 6 ½” by 50 RG
Torpedo- 6 ½” by 52 RG
Churchill- 7” by 48 RG
Gordo- 6” by 60 RG
Cutting Your Cigar
There are three different cut styles for cigars. Cutting style is mostly preference but can play a major role in the way a cigar smokes and tastes.
- Guillotine Cut- The guillotine cut is the most popular form of cutting a cigar. A guillotine cut removes the full cap of the cigar so that a large volume of smoke can enter the mouth and spread throughout the entire palate.
- Punch Cut- A punch cut refers to making a small hole in the cap of the cigar so that only a limited amount of smoke can pass through. By doing this it forces the smoke directly onto the palate.
- V-Cut- A v-cut is a very unique form of cutting a cigar. A v-cut cuts a small wedge into the cigar creating draw that directs the smoke to the center of the mouth from top to bottom.
- Don’t cut too much. The main objective to cutting a cigar is to open up the closed end of the cigar. The recommended amount to cut is 1/8 inch.
- Apply even pressure. When using a double guillotine cutter apply even pressure to each side of the cigar to avoid crushing the cigar.
- When punching a cigar, hold the head of the cigar firm and apply pressure strait down on the head of the cigar. This will help to keep the rest of the cap of the cigar from splitting or cracking.
Lighting Your Cigar
Lighting a cigar is a very important part of the cigar smoking process. Like cutting a cigar there are several different options for lighting your cigar.
- Match- Talk to many aficionados and they will tell you that the only true way to light a cigar is with a wooden match that has a sulfur free tip. This is thought to be the cleanest way to light the cigar.
- Butane lighter- Butane lighters burn extremely clean compared to traditional fluid lighters that can leave unburned fluid residue in your cigar. They come in many different styles including double, triple and even five burner lighters.
- Don’t let the flame touch the cigar. Keep the flame just far enough from the cigar so that the heat will toast the foot of the cigar without charring the wrapper.
- Roll your cigar as you light. By rolling the cigar as you apply the flame you help spread the heat evenly around resulting in an even burn.
- Draw in on the cigar as you light the cigar. This will help bring the heat to the cigar and spread the flame to create an even burn.
Smoking Your Cigar
Now that you have the cigar cut and lit you can relax and enjoy. However there are a few tips that will help you to keep the perfect burn and get the most satisfaction out of your cigar.
- Roll your cigar as you draw. Just like when you lit your cigar by giving it a slight roll as you draw it will help keep an even burn throughout the smoking process.
- Don’t smoke too fast. Remember cigars like a good meal are meant to enjoy and savor. By smoking a cigar too fast you can cause the cigar to burn too hot. When you ash your cigar if there is a point at the end it is a good sign that you are smoking too fast. This means that the wrapper and binder are burning faster than the filler.
Storing Your Cigars
When keeping cigars more than a day or two storing them properly is crucial. Store them with too much humidity and they burn uneven and require extra effort to keep them lit. However, let them dry out and you’ll find yourself with a cigar that may burn fast and hot with a much harsher flavor. Therefor a humidor is one of the easiest ways to ensure your cigars are stored in the best possible conditions.
A humidor is a device that helps maintain cigars at an optimal humidity level (70%) and temperature (70 degrees). Humidors traditionally are made of wood and lined with Spanish cedar. Spanish cedar is the preferred because of its ability to hold the humidity and it helps the cigar aging process.
Selecting and Maintaining Your Humidor
- Remember to plan ahead. When purchasing a humidor it’s always best to buy a little larger than what you think you’ll need. If you think you’ll only have 10 cigars at a time buy a humidor that will hold 20. This is so you’ll have room to grow. It’s better to have a little extra space rather than to have to buy a new humidor in 6 months when you decide to buy a box of 20 cigars.
- Keep it at least 30-50% full. The worst thing you can do is let a humidor sit empty for a month. By keeping the humidor at least 30% full the cigars will help regulate the proper humidity level. If the humidor does sit empty for an extended period of time it may require re-seasoning before stocking up again.