When you go out and buy premium, hand-rolled cigars, you might think that they are all the same – essentially a cylinder of tobacco.
While this may be true in the very broadest sense, there is a lot more to a cigar than just tobacco.
The fact is that various types of tobacco are often mixed in very precise ratios, which then make up the various parts of the cigar.
Today, we want to take a closer look at cigar anatomy and explain what specific parts a cigar consists of.
Cigar Anatomy – The Three Main Parts
Generally speaking, a cigar consists of three main parts, these being the wrapper, the binder, and the filler. When combined, these are known as the blend, like the recipe for a cigar.
There are thousands of blends, and they are specifically created to create a certain flavor profile; these cigars come in assorted sizes. Let’s take a look at the main components of a cigar.
One of the most important parts of cigar anatomy is the wrapper, which is the outer leaf of a cigar that holds the inner tobacco in place. This is the first thing that you will see when you pick up a cigar, and you can be sure that professional cigar makers are quite picky when it comes to choosing the right leaf.
That outer tobacco leaf needs to taste good, look good, and be very smooth.
If tobacco leaves have any blemishes or inconsistencies, such as discoloration or pronounced veins, they will usually be rejected. What is interesting to note is that there are many kinds of cigar wrappers out there, and the one you get can determine up to 60% of the cigar’s taste.
Growing, fermenting, and constructing a premium cigar gets a lot of attention, and the wrapper seems to get the most attention of all.
Much of a cigar wrapper’s classification has to do with color, and they are classified into two categories, these being natural and Maduro, with the natural ones being lighter in color and the Maduro being darker brown.
That said, a Maduro cigar is more than just the color, but the taste too. Maduro wrappers tend to produce sweet and dark notes, whereas natural wrappers are creamier and nuttier. Wrappers are also often identified by the country of origin.
The binder, also known as binder tobacco, is the tobacco right underneath the wrapper tobacco leaf, and it surrounds the filler tobacco. The binder, out of the three main parts of a cigar, is the least important, but it still serves a crucial purpose.
The binder is designed to allow for a very consistent and smooth burn, so the cigar does not burn too fast nor too slow, and so that it does not burn lopsided.
The binder is all about maintaining proper structural integrity during the smoking process. As you might be able to tell by the name, it binds everything together. There are two main types of cigars in this sense – those constructed with a single binder leaf, and those constructed with dual binder leaves.
An interesting fact here is that often when wrapper leaves don’t look nice enough to be used on the exterior of cigars, they are then often used as binder leaves instead.
Filler tobacco is located inside of the binder tobacco, in the center of the cigar. The filler tobacco is all about taste and creating a good flavor combination along with the wrapper.
Cigar makers can spend years finding the right blend of wrapper and filler to create a unique flavor profile.
Some cigar makers opt for a lot of complexity and flavor, while others may go for a subtler and more uniform flavor. The consistency of the filler tobacco can also determine how well the cigar pulls with each draw.
Cigar Anatomy – The Other Three Parts
Now we know what the three main parts of a cigar are. So, what are the other parts?
Cigar bands are aesthetic and do not add to the flavor, but instead, these are used to identify cigars. The cigar band tells you what brand the cigar is from, maybe the country, and potentially other information as well.
Many cigar bands also come with beautiful images. Simply put, they help spur on the imagination and they are all about moving cigars off shelves.
The cap is the part at the head of the cigar, where you put your mouth. The cap is made of the same tobacco leaf as the wrapper. You can tell where the cap is because you can see a line or seam, and the cigar will then taper, which is known as the shoulder.
Some cigars have a fast and pointier taper, while others have rounder and more gradual tapers. Don’t forget, to smoke your cigar, you need to cut the cap off.
The part of the cigar that you light, the end of it, is known as the foot. Remember that you always want to light the foot of a cigar evenly, or else it may canoe and burn inconsistently. Always make sure that the entire circumference of the foot is lit to ensure a good burn.
You are now familiar with the anatomy of a cigar. Now that you know what a cigar consists of, you can start making better-informed purchasing decisions.