From the cigar core moving outwards, a cigar is comprised of its filler, binder, and wrapper. We shall see how each of these components contributes to the unique taste and flavor of every cigar:
The best (premium quality) cigars are handcrafted mini-masterpieces, and will be labeled “Hecho a mano,” meaning “made by hand. The filler, considered the heart of the cigar, is made up of whole leaves skillfully rolled into a tube, ensuring smooth passage of air and smoke. Naturally, as only whole leaves or “long-fillers” are used in premium cigars, this gives consistency to the cigar’s flavor from tip to tip. This is also the reason why a cigar’s ash is sturdier than a cigarette’s ash.
The machine-rolled, “short-filler,” low-end cigar has bits and pieces of tobacco leaves stuffed together to make the filler, and these are generally made from scraps of premium filler or haphazardly chosen inferior leaves.
The long-filler of a high-quality cigar usually contains three different types of leaves from different parts of the tobacco plant and from different sources: leaves chosen from the top of the plant are responsible for the cigar’s strength and flavor, leaves from the middle part usually provides its distinctive aroma, while leaves from the bottom part will contribute to a smooth and even burn. It is the masterful blending of these leaves to achieve a cigar’s unique flavor and quality that constitutes the secret recipes of the best cigarmakers in the world.
The binder leaf, being larger, thicker, and more durable, is wrapped around the filler and functions to hold it intact. Binders are generally chosen from the leaves that come from the bottom of the plant, are bland in flavor and coarser in appearance. Nonetheless, special care is observed in choosing the binders, so that they fully complement (or at least, not alter) the flavors and nuances of the filler and the wrapper.
As we discussed earlier, part of the skills you are acquiring as you learn how to smoke a cigar is choosing your cigar. When you examine your cigar before actually taking out your card to buy it, it is the wrapper that you are looking at or smelling.
This is the outermost layer of the cigar, considered to be its most important and expensive component. The wrapper is what sells the cigar, giving it its characteristic flavor, smell, and appearance. In choosing your cigar, you might want to review the different shades of the wrapper that will help you determine the cigar’s strength and quality.
Typically grown under a gauze tent (shade), utmost care is observed by tobacco farmer to ensure the wrapper’s attractive appearance – smooth, of very few veins, and not excessively thick.
Your choice of an excellent cigar will always be personal and subjective. Surely, in choosing you might consider the construction, the filler blend, the cigar reviews, the wrapper, the country of origin, the name of the maker – all of these contribute to the unique taste of your cigar and the pleasure of your cigar smoking experience.