Search Content

Search form

Everything Cigars Since 1898!

Glossary of Cigar Terms

When you need some crash-course knowledge on cigar lingo, we've compiled an extensive glossary of common cigar terminology. Find a ton of cigar terms here when you need a quick and easy reference.

#

A traditional way to pack 25 cigars inside a box with 8 cigars on the bottom row, 9 cigars in the middle row, and 8 cigars on the top row.

A

Among the largest standard cigar sizes, an “A” is traditionally 9.25 inches by a 47 ring gauge, although the dimensions can vary. Most “A” cigars burn for a very long time, some as much as two hours.

A cigar-rolling method where the leaves are folded in a zig-zag shape, like the bellows of an accordion. It’s a faster way to roll cigars than entubado, but slower than booking each leaf.

An electric or battery-powered device that expels and circulates humidity in a humidor. They are typically used in larger humidors or cabinets.

The process of allowing tobacco to rest under precisely monitored conditions whereby unwanted impurities dissipate. Cigar-makers age tobacco in its whole leaf form in bales, as well as finished cigars. Premium tobacco can be aged for months or several years, both before and after it is rolled into a cigar.

A room in a cigar factory where cigars are stored (after they are rolled) and allowed to rest for an extended period of time, giving their tobaccos sufficient time to merge flavors. Aging rooms are often made of Spanish cedar.

A yellow cigar wrapper.

A large glass jar used in the packaging of cigars, predominantly popular in the 1950s and 1960s, used to emphasize freshness. The practice emerged in Cuba in the early 1900s.

A term once used to identify Candela (or green) wrapper leaves. Also referred to as AMS, Candela wrappers became widely popular with cigar lovers in the U.S., especially after the Cuban Trade Embargo. Their popularity lasted into the 1970s. Candela wrappers are still available, but are far less prevalent today.

Freshly harvested tobacco leaves possess ammonia. Proper curing and fermentation of tobaccos is designed to rid the leaves of ammonia. Cigars that are not properly aged deliver a harsh, bitter taste often derived from ammonia.

A Cuban term for a cigar band.

A tobacco grown in the northeastern coastal region of Brazil. Its leaves are dark and oily. Its seeds are also grown in Ecuador.

The scent of a lit cigar, also called a “bouquet.”

The end of a lit cigar. Tobacco grown in soil with an abundance of magnesium will exhibit a bright, white ash. Too much magnesium reveals a flaky ash. If the soil is affected by a lack of nutrients, a black ash is revealed. It’s best to let the ash develop a bit on the end of a cigar before gently tapping it off.

B

A unit of storage for cigar tobacco. Dry tobacco that has been cured and fermented is layered in a wooden crate on a scale. The tobacco is wrapped in material, typically burlap or nylon. When the desired weight for a bale is achieved, the tobacco is compressed with a hydraulic press, the sides are stitched, and the wooden supports are removed. Cigar-makers age tobacco in bales for years or even decades. Bales range in weight and size. They’re often 100 pounds or more.

An often colorful and ornate ring of paper around the top portion of a cigar that identifies the brand and other details like country of origin. Cigar bands often exhibit intricate lithography and detailed brand logos. Today, some cigars have secondary bands, or cigar-makers will place the band at the foot of the cigar.

One of the three main components of a cigar, banda refers to the binder. The binder leaves in a cigar encapsulate the filler leaves. Although many binder leaves are grown with the intention of being used as wrappers, cosmetic imperfections lead them to be classified as binders.

A barber-pole cigar is rolled with 2 different wrapper leaves which the cigar roller alternates, giving the appearance of a barber-pole (or candy cane) pattern on the surface of the cigar. Most commonly, the effect is achieved with alternating Maduro and Natural wrappers.

Cheap cigars were shipped in barrels in the 1800s, usually in quantities of 2,500 cigars.

The scientific name for a tobacco beetle is lasioderma serricorne. At just 2 to 3 millimeters in size tobacco beetles can accomplish irreparable damage to single cigars as well as entire cigar collections thanks to their insatiable appetites. Cigar beetles leave tiny, pin-sized holes in a cigar, often in a trail. If you suspect any of your cigars are infected by beetles, remove them from your humidor immediately and toss them out. Cigar beetles can hatch when the temperature in a humidor exceeds 72 degrees.

A cigar shape, similar to a Torpedo, but shorter and with a more abrupt taper at the head.

A recipe of herbs, wine, rum, or liqueurs used to infuse tobaccos.

An integral component in a handmade cigar, the binder tobaccos hold the centermost filler leaves in place. Together, the binder and filler tobaccos are called a “bunch.” Binders often start out as wrapper leaves, but are classified with a lower grade due to cosmetic imperfections. 

The process of releasing an unwanted pocket or bubble of air from the fuel tank on a butane lighter. Bleeding a lighter improves its performance and allows a full injection of fresh fuel to occupy the tank.

Blend refers to the complete recipe of tobaccos that go into a premium cigar. For most cigars, a blend consists of up to five leaves in the filler, one or two binder leaves, and the exterior wrapper leaf. For many cigar-makers, the precise ingredients in a given blend are never revealed beyond the general regions where the tobaccos originate. A single blend can consist of tobaccos from numerous farms and tobacco-growing regions.

The process of smoking a cigar after its band has been removed with no knowledge of what brand or blend you’re smoking.

Naturally, as cigars age, they can exhibit bloom (also called plume) which typically appears on a cigar’s wrapper in the form of small white powdery dots. Bloom can simply be brushed off the surface of the cigar and is not harmful. Do not confuse bloom with mold, which is blue or green in color and very harmful.

Originally a designation for the clearance aisle or clearance shelf in a retail shop, the Blowout Bin is a popular location physically, and virtually (online), for identifying cigars that need to be expunged from a store’s inventory. Cigars in a Blowout Bin are often marked down to the lowest prices possible which has made the term a buzz word for bargain hunters.

Blue mold is an airborne fungus that can infect and ruin an entire tobacco field in days. The scientific name for blue mold is peronospara tabacina. Some hybrid tobacco varietals are less susceptible to blue mold than others, but it has impacted every major tobacco-growing region at one time or another.

A layer of paper or film that folds over the cigars in a protective manner inside a dress box. The bofeton typically features the brand’s logo and is the first thing you see upon opening a box of cigars.

The formally styled cedar box in which many premium cigars are packaged. An authentic Boite Nature box consists of two hinges, a clasp, dovetailed or interlocking joints, and four lifted cedar collars that form an inner lip and rise above the lower walls of the box. Many cigar boxes are made of cedar, but may not exhibit the full course of Boite Nature appointments.

The origins of celebrated Fuente Fuente Opus X cigars reside in Bonao, an agricultural region in the Dominican Republic, roughly an hour from Santiago. The area’s fields once grew Candela wrappers. The Fuente family successfully harvested the country’s first Cuban-seed, Shade Grown tobaccos in Bonao, and later grew the coveted wrappers for Fuente Fuente Opus X there.

Bonche refers to a bunch, or the combination of filler and binder leaves rolled together in a cylindrical shape.

Also called “bunchers,” boncheros are the cigar-rollers in a factory who specialize in assembling the binder and filler leaves (or bunch) in a cigar.

A technique of cigar-making whereby the roller layers the filler leaves on top of one another (like the pages in a book) and then rolls them up in a scroll. Booking is quicker than other rolling methods but can create issues with a cigar’s draw if not done properly.

The aroma of a cigar, lit or unlit, can be called a bouquet. Also called a cigar’s room note, the bouquet refers to the qualities of a cigar we perceive with our olfactory senses.

A term once used to characterize small-batch releases, typically from cigar-makers outside of the mainstream. Overuse of boutique as a classification for scores of new brands, including those by bigger more established companies, has led to its erosion as a romantic term.

A form of traditional cigar packaging widely used today. Many credit H. Upmann with originating the practice in the early 1800s in Cuba. Laws in the U.S. were enacted in 1865 that required cigars be packed in wooden boxes in quantities of 25, 50, 100, or 250 cigars in order to accurately track production for taxation. Spanish cedar is the most common material, however cigar boxes have been made of cardboard, tin, and plastic.

Box aging simply refers to aging cigars in the box in which they are packaged. Cigars can be aged for many years and when aged in the original box, they can exhibit distinctively uniform qualities of taste and aroma.

Box codes are predominantly used to identify the age of Cuban cigars according to a code found on the bottom of each box. Box codes are uncommon outside of Cuba.

Box pressed cigars exhibit a flat, somewhat squared off shape as a result of being tightly packed into a box with flat top. There are varying degrees of box pressing, however trunk pressing technically refers to cigars that are pressed in the most extreme manner using wooden slats between the cigars to achieve the effect. Trunk-pressed cigars have very sharp, squared-off edges.

A clasp that fastens the top of a cigar box lid to the bottom.

Also shortened to BOTL, Brother of the Leaf is a popular contemporary term used to identify a fellow cigar lover. Its usage has blossomed across the Internet.

Small cigar factories in the U.S. were called Buckeyes prior to the Cuban Revolution. The term originated from the widespread use (in domestic factories) of tobacco grown in Ohio, the Buckeye State.

Large piles of tobacco assembled for fermentation are called bulks. They can weight up to 4,000 pounds or more. Bulks are compiled in warehouses after the tobacco has been cured in a curing barn. Bulks consist of tobacco leaves that have been arranged in bunches, called hands.

A type of punch cutter that opens the cap with a circular blade. Bullet cutters are available in a variety of ring gauge sizes and typically create a more constricted draw while keeping the cap of the cigar intact.

A type of punch cutter used to open the head or cap of a cigar with a circular blade reminiscent of the bull’s eye on a target.

Bunch refers to the combination of binder and filler leaves used in a cigar. A bunch is placed in a cigar mold and is then finished with a wrapper leaf to complete the blend.

A buncher is the worker at the cigar factory who specializes in assembling the combination of binder and filler leaves used in a cigar. The task of a buncher is distinct from the work done by a cigar roller. In some factories a single worker performs both the bunching and the rolling, however the tasks are often separated in many cigar-making facilities. When handled separately, male workers often perform the bunching while females carry out the rolling.

Powered by hand, a bunching machine is constructed with a leather pad, a metal handle, and guides that aid in the assembly of the bunch (the combination of binder and filler tobaccos in a cigar). Also called Liebermans or Temscos, bunching machines are common in the Dominican Republic, but are rare in other Central American nations and are not utilized in Cuba.

In lieu of boxes, some cigars are packaged in bundles wrapped in cellophane. Many bundles are assembled in counts of 20 or 25 cigars. Once commonly used to package un-banded seconds from premium brands, a number of premium bundles now exist due to the economy they offer, as the cost of a box is removed from the manufacturing equation.

A burro is another term for a bulk or pilón or trojes, which is a large pile of tobacco assembled for fermentation following the curing process. After the tobaccos have been cured, they are moved from the curing barn to a warehouse where they are placed in enormous piles that can weigh up to 4,000 pounds or more. The leaves are piled flat on top of one another with cardboard, old tobacco stems, or boards underneath. In a burro, the fermentation process begins as the weight and moisture from the leaves generates heat which causes a change in the tobacco’s chemical structure.

A clean-burning, odorless fuel used in many cigar lighters, especially torch models. Cigar smokers prefer butane due to its lack of impurities. Butane is far less likely to produce a residual aftertaste or negatively impact the flavor of a premium cigar. High-quality butane, or fuel that is refined at least five times, is strongly recommended.

C

Typically in boxes made of Spanish cedar, Cabinet Selection is a style of packaging cigars in quantities of 25 or 50, bound with a ribbon on the inside of the box. Cabinet Selection packaging allows for more air between the individual cigars which many believe facilitates aging.

A climate-controlled curing barn that delivers precisely determined levels of humidity and temperature with an advanced system of interior ductwork. It ensures a more efficient curing of tobaccos than traditional methods. Due to their expense and construction, Calfrisas are uncommon.

A nation in West Africa well-known for producing a sought-after wrapper varietal. Cameroon is a term also used to classify tobacco grown in the country’s neighboring Central African Republic.

Candela is a green wrapper leaf produced by harvesting tobacco leaves before the plant has fully matured and drying them quickly to lock in the plant’s natural chlorophyll content. Candela wrappers are created by fire-curing tobacco after it’s been harvested and then rehumidifying the leaves. Candela wrappers are well-known for delivering mild, grassy and sweet flavors.

When one portion of your cigar burns hotter and faster than the other, particularly beginning with a narrow strip. In some cases, canoeing can be remedied by touching up the cigar’s burn with a lighter. In other cases, the cigar can’t be fixed and is best left to go out.

Another word for a seedbed. Today, tobacco farmers often plant seedlings in trays inside greenhouses to protect them from the elements, although some growers will still plant them in the ground. Typically, an excess of seedbeds are planted as insurance against catastrophic weather or other unpredictable natural setbacks in the growing cycle.

The cap covers the head of the cigar to secure the wrapper leaf. There are different varieties of caps, like the Cuban-style, triple cap (or a cap with three seams). Another type of easily recognizable cap is a pigtail, which features a thin twist of tobacco curled up at the cigar’s head and looks like the fuse on a stick of dynamite. Before you can smoke a cigar, the cap has to be cut.

The wrapper leaf on a cigar.

Another term for the binder in a cigar. The binder, or capote, is one of the three main parts of the anatomy of a cigar. The binder holds the filler leaves together. Many cigars are rolled with a single binder, but some also use a double binder. Many binder leaves are initially grown to be wrappers, but due to cosmetic or other imperfections they are graded lower than wrappers and are used on the interior of the cigar.

Carbon (Spanish for charcoal) is used to raise the temperature in tobacco-curing barns. Many operations also use propane heaters today.

A plant pigment found in may plant structures. As natural-occurring chlorophyll in tobacco breaks down, it is replaced by carotene.

Another name for a curing barn.

Tobacco that has been aged is cased, or moisturized so that it can be worked with. Casing can be accomplished in a handful of processes, including dipping the tobacco directly in water, exposing the leaves to a continual mist, and storing the tobacco in vast rooms with a very high level of humidity.

Casing is a term commonly used to identify the flavoring of pipe tobacco as well.

Another name for a V-cutter or a wedge cutter. The V-shaped blade in a cat’s eye cutter draws smoke from the top and bottom of a cigar’s length to blend it directly on the palate. Like a bullet cut, a cat’s eye cut delivers a more concentrated draw.

Cedar is the type of wood used to make most cigar boxes and humidors, Spanish cedar in particular. Spanish cedar positively reacts with moisture and facilitates the aging of cigars after they are packaged.

Cedar is also a tasting note in many premium cigars.

A long, thin strip of cedar used for lighting cigars is called a cedar spill. In this traditional lighting technique, the cedar spill is lit from a match or lighter. The burning cedar spill is then used to light a cigar. In this method, zero impurities from lighter fuel or match sulfur are transferred to the cigar.

The thin, clear protective sleeves individual cigars are wrapper in are made of cellophane. Although not all manufacturers use cellophane, it provides a safeguard throughout the packaging and transport process of premium cigars. It also inhibits the loss of humidity in a cigar. Additionally, when cigars reach the shelf in a retail shop, cellophane minimizes direct contact and/or the potential damage that can occur, unintentionally, when consumers handle them.

A flat piece of steel with a curved end used to trim a wrapper leaf to the correct size by a cigar roller.

The material once used to cover tobacco fields where Shade Grown wrappers are planted. Cheesecloth restricts direct sunlight from reaching the plants. Today, nylon material is used in its place.

A rustic, often inexpensive, cigar with an open foot and an open head. Cheroots are most commonly associated with Clint Eastwood’s characters in the many Spaghetti Westerns he starred in.

Slang for a small cigar factory or shop.

Short-filler tobacco, or chopped up filler, is also called chop. Short-filler is used in inexpensive and machine-made cigars.

A classic cigar shape measuring 7 inches by a 47 ring gauge, named for British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, who is perhaps history’s most famous cigar smoker.

Much of the premium tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic is planted in the country’s Cibao Valley.

An organization of importers, distributors, and manufacturers of cigars.

A bar or lounge where cigar smoking is permitted.

A period of tremendous growth in the premium cigar industry which began in the early 1990s and lasted until the late 1990s. Demand for premium cigars quadrupled from 100 million to over 400 million during this time.

A simple tool used to break cigar box seals and open them in premium retail shops. The tool is designed to remove the nail that seals a traditional flat-top box and to pound the nail back in if desired.

A cigar case is designed to protect your cigars during travel or transport. Cigar cases range in size and function from those that can easily slide into a breast pocket and hold one to three cigars, or larger models that can store ten or more when you’re going on a longer trip.

A room or area where cigar smoking is permitted. Cigar lounges are primarily found inside premium cigar retail shops.

An organization that promotes and protects the rights of premium cigar lovers.

The owner of a cigar factory or brand. Cigar-maker can also refer to a cigar roller.

Smaller machine-made cigars usually packaged in quantities of ten or twenty to a box. Cigarillos are short, thin, and burn quickly. They are often made from dry-cured, short-filler tobaccos.

A cigar wrapper leaf that is pale in color (from a light, faded green hue to a light tan).

A cigar manufactured in the U.S. prior to the Cuban Embargo. Clear Havanas were made with Cuban tobacco.

Closeout refers to a brand or a blend that has been discontinued and will no longer be made. When a company marks a cigar brand as a closeout, they often want to remove it from the market as quickly as possible. To accomplish this, they will lower the price dramatically, sometimes below cost.

An individual box for a single cigar.

Also called a cold taste or dry draw. After the cigar has been cut, taking a draw and pulling air through the cigar onto your palate offers a preview of its flavors before you have lit it.

Wooden slats (usually made of Spanish cedar) that line the interior edges of a cigar box.

One of the last steps in the manufacturing and production of premium cigars. To insure every cigar in a box exhibits a uniform color, special workers at the factory are trained to examine each cigar against a stark black or bright white surface and inspect them for the slightest variations in color.

A color classification of wrapper leaves. Colorado wrappers are brown or reddish-brown in color.

A condition of taste cigars exhibit when they produce multiple transitions of flavor.

Just north of Esteli, Nicaragua, Condega is one of the country’s three key tobacco-growing regions. It is known for producing tobaccos that are medium-bodied and rich. The other two regions are Esteli and Jalapa.

One of the primary wrapper leaves used in premium cigar making today. Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers are grown in the Connecticut River Valley under direct sunlight and are almost always processed as Maduro wrappers. Whole plants are harvested at once in the stalk cut method when Connecticut Broadleaf is harvested – as opposed to harvesting individual sections of the plant in a series of primings.

A Cuban-seed tobacco that is grown as wrapper in the Connecticut River Valley. It is far less common than Connecticut Shade or Connecticut Broadleaf. It is known for its rich, leathery taste.

A primary tobacco-growing region in the U.S. The Connecticut River Valley encompasses the Connecticut River from Hartford, Connecticut and up through Massachusetts and the shared border between New Hampshire and Vermont. Today, the region’s fertile soils produce some of the most exquisite tobaccos in the world, thanks to a variety of growing techniques, primarily the use of nylon (originally cheesecloths) to filter out direct sunlight which results in a golden blond wrapper.

Tobacco grown in the Connecticut River Valley used for wrapper leaves. Connecticut Shade is a specific type of wrapper grown under the shade of nylon, or cheesecloths, erected over the plants to block out direct sunlight. Connecticut Shade tobacco is prized for its silky, golden blond color and creamy rich flavor.

The most prominent variety of Cuban-seed tobacco grown today. First introduced in the 1930s, Corojo-seed tobaccos are now grown throughout Central America. Although Corojo tobacco was once used in the most sought-after Cuban cigars, the seed is not grown on the island any longer due to its susceptibility to disease.

Typically 5 5/8 inches by a 42 ring gauge, the Corona is one of the most common classic cigar sizes.

Corona Gorda is a cigar shape. The term means “fat” Corona. Corona Gordas are often crafted with a ring gauge over 50. Corona Gordas can actually approximate traditional Toros in size.

The sides of a cigar box that bear the brand’s name, logo, and other important visual elements.

Another name for the wrapper leaf on a cigar.

A cigar handcrafted with a combination of long-filler and short-filler tobaccos.

Tobaccos grown outside of Cuba with seed varietals that originated in Cuba. Ecuador is one of the most prominent regions for growing Cuban-seed wrappers, for example.

The government-owned enterprise that controls all of Cuba’s cigar brands.

The outer lid or top of a cigar box.

In a curing barn, tobacco hangs from a wooden pole called a cuje. Shorter versions called cuje cortos measure roughly six feet, while longer ones, cuje largos, stretch to twelve feet.

Culebra is Spanish for “snake.” The term refers to an unusual cigar shape consisting of three Panetelas (often 6 inches by a 38 ring gauge) that are braided together and meant to be smoked individually. The origins of Culebras vary. One widely believed theory is that cigar rollers were allowed to smoke only Culebras due to the shape’s visual uniqueness. The practice was enacted as a form of inventory control as cigar rollers caught smoking a standard size could be identified as stealing.

The process of gradually removing moisture from tobacco leaves after harvest. Curing takes place in special curing barns where heat is introduced and controlled through a variety of traditional and more contemporary techniques. Premium tobaccos are generally cured for around 45 days.

Curing barns are structures where tobacco is stored after harvest for roughly 45 days. Essentially, tobacco is dried in a curing barn in a gradual fashion. A mixture of temperature (heat) and humidity determines the time it takes to fully cure the tobacco. After curing, the tobacco is moved to a warehouse where fermentation begins.

A tool used to clip off or open the cap on the head of a cigar so that air can pass through it. The three most common cutters are a straight cutter (or guillotine), a punch cutter (or bullet), and a V-cutter (or cat’s eye).

D

Desflorado is a method of growing tobacco whereby the plant has essentially been “deflowered.” By removing the flowers, seeds, and in some cases the upper portion of the plant, its nutrients are transferred directly to the leaves which makes them stronger and sweeter. The process is also referred to as “topping.”

The Spanish term for “destemming” tobacco. In order to roll tobacco leaves into cigars, the stems must be removed. The process is done by hand or by machine. For binder and wrapper leaves, the entire stem is removed, but for filler leaves, only the bottom two thirds of the stem are stripped.

The process of removing the stems from tobacco leaves. It is also called “stemming.” Because the stems on tobacco leaves are thick, they need to be stripped in order to roll the leaves into cigars. For binder and wrapper leaves, the entire stem is removed. For filler leaves, only the bottom two thirds of the stem are stripped.

A cigar shape with a tapered head and a closed foot that is technically a Figurado, but with particular dimensions. A Diadema is usually at least 8 inches long. A common Diadema is a Salomone.

The process of dipping the head of your cigar in your drink, typically a darker spirit like bourbon, scotch, rum, or cognac. The act of dipping is often disapproved by a number of purists.

In a tobacco-curing barn, the top vent or opening where heat escapes and air flows is called a doghouse.

A nation regarded as one of the primary producers of premium cigars in the world. Santiago and La Romana account for much of the cigar production in the Dominican Republic. Several prominent brands are made in the Dominican Republic, including Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Montecristo, Macanudo, and scores of others.

Another term for Candela, a green-colored wrapper leaf known for its mild, grassy flavor. Double Claro or Candela wrappers are creating by curing tobacco leaves with heat before they are fully mature, a process which locks in the plant’s natural chlorophyll content.

A cigar size that typically measures at 7.5 inches with a ring gauge between 49 and 52. The long, cooler-burning shape provides an extended smoking duration.

The process of pulling air through the cigar (as a verb), or the actual pull itself (as a noun). The draw on a cigar is a measure of its construction. The style of cut can also effect the draw by making it more concentrated (with a bullet cut or a V-cut), or looser and more open (with a straight cut).

A quality control device that pulls air through a cigar to ensure it is not rolled too tight or too loose. Cigars are draw tested at the factory, often prior to the completion of the rolling process. Draw testing machines became more commonplace in the 1990s and are now widely relied on throughout the premium cigar industry.

E

A South American nation noted for growing a number of wrapper leaves. The region’s natural cloud cover and nutrient-rich volcanic soils produce an unrivaled wrapper leaf. The chief tobacco-growing region in Ecuador is just outside of Guayaquil in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

The process of assembling a pilón or bulk of tobacco for fermentation.

A limited form of shading tobacco crops from direct sunlight. Unlike traditional shade-growing where cheesecloths or nylon sheets are erected over the entire crop, encallado involves erecting shade barriers only on the sides of the tobaccos plants. The tobacco is protected from wind, but is shaded from natural light only when the sun is lower in the sky.

Another term for Natural wrappers, or those that are light in color – not Maduro and not Candela. The term is also abbreviated as EMS, but most simply refer to English Market Selection cigars as Natural today.

Transferring harvested tobacco leaves from the fields to the curing barn is called ensarte. Strings used to bind the leaves together during the curing process are called sartas.

Another term for Entubado, a cigar rolling method whereby tobacco leaves are rolled into tube shapes to ensure a perfect draw.

Cabinets at a cigar factory where freshly rolled cigars are cooled.

Spanish for “chosen,” which is a reference to color sorting. Among the last steps in process of making cigars, special workers at the factory color sort the finished cigars to ensure every box exhibits a uniform color.

The town in Nicaragua around which much of the nation’s cigar production is situated. A generous amount of tobacco is also grown in the region.

F

The front of a cigar, or the side that shows the cigar’s band. Color sorters at a cigar factory determine which side of a cigar looks the most attractive and they arrange them face up in trays prior to the band going on.

Cigars imported into the U.S. are subject to federal excise taxes. Once a modest tax (under 5 cents per cigar), the passage of the State Children’s Health Care Initiative Program (SCHIP) in the spring of 2009 caused the federal excise tax to erupt to 40.26 cents per cigar. The cost of federal excise taxes is passed onto the consumer.

Following the harvest and curing of premium tobacco, it must undergo fermentation, a process that can take several months or longer. To ferment tobacco, large bulks, or pilones, of tobacco leaves are assembled, often weighing up to 4,000 pounds or more. Natural pressure from the weight of the tobacco combines with heat (temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) to release ammonia and other impurities from the tobacco.

A classification of cigar shapes, such as Torpedos, Belicosos, Pyramids, and Perfectos, which are not considered traditional Parejos like Robustos, Toros, Churchills, and Coronas.

Another word for the decorative trim on a cigar box.

The interior-most leaves in a cigar. The filler leaves are encompassed by the binder leaves. Premium handmade cigars often contain several different filler leaves (between two and five). The leaves are rolled “whole” in long-filler cigars, as opposed to short-filler, or chopped up leaves in machine-made cigars.

The final tasting notes in a cigar, or the residual taste it delivers to the palate. Some finishes linger, in stronger cigars for example, while the taste of milder cigars dissipates more quickly. A cigar’s complexity and flavor profile culminate in its finish.

To insure that a fire doesn’t start, workers in curing barns must continually monitor conditions as heat is introduced. A variety of methods are used to raise the temperature, including charcoal and propane tanks. Temperatures can exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

A cigar can be considered firm if its draw is too tight or it is rolled too densely.

Instead of finishing a cigar with a traditional cap, a roller can simply extend the wrapper leaf in a twisted-off manner called flag tip. The more common name for a flag tip is a pigtail or a curly head.

For both protective and aesthetic reasons, cigars can be wrapped in foil. Often it serves to draw consumers’ attention to a product on a store shelf, however, foil can also encapsulate a cigar’s natural flavor as it ages. In some cases, the entire cigar is wrapped, but it’s more common to see only a portion or half of the cigar wrapped in foil.

The foot is the end of the cigar you light.

The name of a cigar’s exact size or shape is called the frontmark because it is commonly displayed on the front of the box.

G

An old form of cigar packaging rarely used today. Also called an Amatista jar, cigars were once packaged in heavy glass jars in quantities of 25 or 50 cigars.

A reference to commonly counterfeited Cuban Cohibas. Real Cuban Cohibas are never packaged in boxes with a clear window at the top which displays the cigars inside.

Like aluminum tubes, glass tubes are used to package individual cigars. A glass tube protects a cigar if you carry it in your pocket.

A reference to thicker cigar shapes, Gorda is Spanish for “fat.”

A size of Cuban cigars, in particular, which measures 5.5 inches by a 50 ring gauge.

A long cigar shape, typically 9.25 inches by a 47 ring gauge.

A long version of the Panetela shape, often longer than 7 inches with a 38 ring gauge.

A complimentary Cuban term for a farmer or man of the earth.

A traditional Cuban dress shirt lined with many pockets (convenient for holding cigars) on the front. Guayaberas are not tucked in when worn.

A tasteless, odorless substance used to apply the head of the wrapper leaf around the bunch in a handmade cigar.

H

Another term for a Cuban cigar.

The company in charge of global distribution for Cuban cigars.

50 cigars in a bundle are a half wheel. They are traditionally tied with a ribbon.

Roughly 30 or 40 tobacco leaves tied together in the curing process are called a hand. Several hands are assembled together in a bulk, or pilón, during fermentation.

A cigar made entirely by hand from premium long-filler tobaccos finished with a wrapper leaf.

The capital of Cuba and also a term often used to refer to Cuban cigars. In Spanish, the name is “Habana.” Pronounced: Ah-Bah-Nah.

The end of the cigar that goes in your mouth when smoking. The head consists of a cap, which is the part of the wrapper that must be cut or removed in order to draw on the cigar.

A cigar holder is a device used to cradle the head of the cigar while smoking. A cigar holder goes in your mouth and creates a barrier between the actual tobacco and your lips. Although a cigar holder allows the smoker to enjoy a cigar down to the smallest nub possible, they are rarely seen or used.

A combination of cellulose adhesive and chopped up tobacco scraps that have been processed in a sheet which is cut up for use in cheap machine-made cigars. It’s also called HTL and is never used in premium, handmade cigars.

The fourth largest cigar-producing nation behind Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

Cigars that are rolled too loosely or are under-filled burn hot.

Also called a reservoir or a humidification unit, the humidification element is the humidity source inside a humidor. A traditional element consists of floral foam inside a plastic or metal case with vented slots for the humidity to escape. They are often replenished with distilled water or propylene glycol solution.

A box for storing cigars. Humidors are often made of Spanish cedar and are designed with a tight seal to lock in and maintain humidity at a preferred level, typically 65-70% RH (relative humidity). A humidor is also the room in a cigar shop where the cigars are stored and displayed for sale.

A variety of hybrid tobaccos have been developed through advances in genetics. Two or more different plant types are used to create a hybrid tobacco. Hybrids are engineered for disease resistance, greater yields, and specific flavor profiles.

A device in a humidor that measures the humidity level. Although analog hygrometers (those with a dial) are still common, there are a variety of digital models today that include both temperature and humidity readings.

I

Drawing the smoke into your lungs or diaphragm. The practice is common among cigarette smokers, but should never be attempted with cigars.

Formerly called the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America (RTDA), the IPCPR is a trade organization of retail tobacco dealers, or cigar shops, throughout the U.S. During its annual trade show, premium cigar manufacturers release new brands and meet with their retailers.

Another term for Cuba. It stands for the Island South of Miami.

J

One of Nicaragua’s three key tobacco-growing regions. Tobacco grown in the Jalapa Valley often is used as wrapper due to its rich and refined taste. The other two Nicaraguan regions prized for tobacco production are Estelí and Condega.

The Jamastran Valley in Honduras is one of the country’s key tobacco-growing regions. The Jamastran Valley is near Danli, Honduras.

Heavy glass or ceramic jars were once a common packaging method for premium cigars. Also called Amatistas, the use of jars is rare today.

L

Cigar shops that sell Cuban cigars and are partially owned by Habanos S.A., the Cuban government’s cigar distribution company.

Another name for a cigar piercer or a cutter that pierces the cap of the cigar with a sharp needle-like point.

A cigar size that is long and narrow and noted for the concentrated flavor it delivers. Traditionally Lanceros are crafted in dimensions of 7 to 7.5 inches with a 38 ring gauge.

A term for the front side of a cigar box where the brand name, logo, and other visual or decorative elements appear.

Also called a cuje, a lathe is the wooden pole from which freshly harvested tobacco leaves are hung in a curing barn.

A person in a cigar factory who reads to the cigar rollers while they make cigars. Although an uncommon practice today, it still exists in Cuba. The Montecristo brand traces its name back to the Alexandre Dumas novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, as it was a favorite of Cuban cigar rollers entertained by lectors who read it to them.

Small leaves that grow at the base of the tobacco plant. Also called sand leaf, they are typically discarded.

Also known as a Temsco, a Lieberman is a machine used to bunch tobaccos in the manufacture of cigars. The hand-powered mechanism bunches tobacco with a leather strap, guides that create a uniform bunch, and a metal lever. The use of Liebermans is less common outside of the Dominican Republic and nonexistent in Cuba.

When grading tobacco for filler leaves, three classifications exist: Ligero is the strongest, Viso is the second strongest, and Seco is the mildest. Ligero leaves come from the uppermost portion of a tobacco plant. Because they receive the most sunlight, they are thicker, heartier leaves.

A device for lighting cigars. Cigar smokers prefer lighters powered by butane fuel. Because it is much more refined than traditional liquid fuel, butane gas exhibits fewer impurities and will not taint the flavor of a premium cigar.

Liquid fuel used in wick lighters. It is not recommended for lighting cigars because it is not refined and it can taint the flavor of a premium cigar. Wooden matches or butane lighters are preferred over lighters that take lighter fluid.

Whole leaf tobacco used in the manufacture of premium handmade cigars. Long-filler is called tripa in Spanish and is distinct from the chopped-filler or short-filler used in machine-made cigars.

A cigar shape that measures 6 to 7 inches by a 42 to 44 ring gauge. A typical Lonsdale is longer than a Corona, but not as thin as a Panetela.

A cigar that is under-filled is loose, meaning too much air passes through it on the draw. A loose cigar will burn hot and too fast.

M

Machine-made cigars are made in machines and not by hand. They are made with short-filler homogenized tobacco created from chopped-up tobacco scraps and cellulose adhesive. Machine-made cigars are also called mass-market cigars. They are manufactured in far greater quantities than premium handcrafted cigars and are more readily available in convenience stores than in fine tobacco shops because they are very cheap.

Maduro is Spanish for “ripe.” It refers to a shade of wrapper leaf, typically very dark brown or nearly black in color. Maduro wrappers can be achieved through exposure to sunlight or an extended fermentation, during which the sugars in the tobacco rise to the surface of the leaf. The most common type of Maduro wrapper is Connecticut Broadleaf.

Another term for cheap machine-made cigars. Mass-market cigars are made from processed homogenized scraps of tobacco and cellulose adhesive. Machine-made cigars are referred to as “mass-market” because they are widely distributed in convenience stores and gas stations as opposed to premium retail cigar shops.

A prized tobacco wrapper leaf harvested near Brazil’s northeastern coast in a region called Recôncavo.

Another term for a half wheel or a bundle of 50 cigars. They are usually bound with a ribbon. 100 cigars make up a full wheel which is called rueda.

Small leaves that grow at the top of a tobacco plant. Because they receive the most direct sunlight, they are prized by cigar-makers for their complex, intense flavor.

Mexico is well-known as a tobacco-growing country, particularly the San Andres region where a tremendous number of prized San Andrés wrapper crops are grown.

Another term for Cuban sandwich cigars. Mixed-filler cigars are still handmade, but with a mixture of short-filler and long-filler tobaccos.

Cigar bunches (binder and filler leaves) are placed in a mold to conform to the cigar shape that is being made. Cigar molds are made of wood or plastic and are constructed with a bottom half and a top half joined together under pressure.

The term mold also refers to the blue or green fungus that can develop on cigars when they are stored at temperatures that are too high. Cigars infected with mold should be discarded and never smoked.

A mounted head is a cap with three seams, also called a triple cap. Originally a Cuban-style of cigar-making, a number of cigar-makers in Nicaragua and other nations also produce cigars with mounted heads now.

An extra step in the fermentation process that is performed on tobacco that is on the periphery of a pilón, or bulk. Because tobacco that is further away from the center of a pilón is less likely to receive an appropriately thorough fermentation, it is treated in a mulling room where it is exposed to high temperatures (100 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity (90% RH) for a more complete fermentation.

N

A light-brown or golden-blond to medium-brown color of a cigar’s wrapper. Once commonly referred to as Colorado Claro, Natural is used much more frequently today. Many Connecticut Shade wrappers are classic examples of Natural.

One of the world’s most prominent cigar-producing and tobacco-growing nations. Much of Nicaragua’s cigar production is situated around the town of Esteli. Nicaragua’s three key tobacco-growing regions are Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega. The strongest tobaccos are grown in Esteli, while Condega is more medium in strength, and Jalapa tobaccos are less intense and ideal for wrapper leaves. Many highly rated cigar brands are made in Nicaragua, including Padron, La Aroma de Cuba, and My Father.

The most common of all plants in the genus Nicotiana and the one from which contemporary, commercially grown tobacco derives. It is only found in cultivation.

Pushing cigar smoke out through your nose. Nosing produces added layers of complexity in your perception of flavor and aroma from a premium cigar. It is also called retronasal olfaction.

O

Desirable wrapper leaves often exhibit an oily quality. It’s also a sign of adequate humidification. Darker wrappers, like Maduro and Oscuro leaves, are more prone to display an oily quality than lighter Connecticut Shade wrappers.

Olor is a tobacco varietal grown in the Dominican Republic and predominantly used as binder and filler. Olor is distinct for the large size of the leaves it produces.

The name of a volcanic island close to Lake Nicaragua. A small portion of tobacco is grown on the island where its fertile volcanic soils yield a distinctive sweet, earthy taste.

The darkest color of wrapper leaf. Oscuro wrappers are darker than Maduros and can be associated with a pronounced intensity.

P

A long and slender cigar shape. Panetelas are typically rolled in dimensions of 5 to 7 inches by a ring gauge of 34 to 38.

A rectangular or oval sticker or emblem stuck to the top of a cigar box that wraps around the outer side to the bottom. The papeleta must be sliced in order to open the lid.

A cigar with parallel or straight sides. Traditional Robustos, Churchills, Toros, and Coronas are all considered Parejos. Figured cigars, or Figurados like Torpedos, Belicosos, and Perfectos are not Parejos.

A region in Cuba where premium tobacco is grown.

A humidification system that does not rely on batteries or electricity to function. Most traditional humidification units sold with humidors (like those made with floral foam), or Boveda humidity packs, are passive.

To make tiny tobacco seeds easier to handle, some are pelletized or coated in a neutral material like clay.

Spanish for “hair of gold,” Pelo d’Oro is the name of tobacco prized for its rich, distinctive flavor. It is grown in Nicaragua and other regions but is not common due to its susceptibility to disease.

A cigar shape that tapers at both ends. Because there are many shapes and sizes of Perfectos, the term is occasionally confused with Figurado. All Perfectos are Figurados, but not all Figurados (i.e. Belicosos and Torpedos) are Perfectos.

A cigar size that measures approximately 4.5 to 5 inches by a 38 to 42 ring gauge. Petit Coronas are a smaller version of the traditional Corona shape. The shape delivers an added concentration of flavor and is ideal when you’re stepping out into cold or inclement weather for a cigar.

Another term for short-filler or chopped up tobacco scraps, primarily like those used in machine-made cigars. Some handmade cigars consist of a combination of short-filler and long-filler tobaccos, such as Cuban sandwich cigars. Short-filler tobaccos burn hotter and faster than long-fillers.

A piercer is a cigar cutter with a sharp needle-like point that penetrates the cap of a cigar to create airflow.

During the fermentation process, tobacco leaves are arranged in pilónes, also called bulks, burros, or trojes. Before fermentation takes place, the tobacco is cured in a curing barn for roughly 45 days where moisture is removed from the leaves. After curing is complete the tobacco is moved to a warehouse for fermentation. Around 30 to 40 individual leaves are tied or sewn together in what is called a “hand.” Many hands of tobacco are assembled in a large pile, or pilon, which can weight up to 4,000 pounds or more. At the bottom of each pilón is a layer of cardboard, wood, or old tobacco stems. During fermentation, the pilónes are taken apart and reassembled several times over a period of months. 

A famous varietal of Cuban-seed tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic. It is also called Piloto for short.

A world-famous tobacco-growing region in Western Cuba. Pinar Del Rio is where Cuba’s most legendary and prized tobacco is grown.

A cigar is plugged when the draw is obstructed. Using a piercer to loosen the tobacco at one or both ends of a cigar can sometimes remedy the draw. In other cases, the cigar may have been rolled too tight and is unsmokable because it is plugged.

Another term for bloom, plume is a powdery white substance derived from the natural oils in a premium cigar. It is harmless and typically appears on the surface of the wrapper leaf in small white specs. Plume can easily be brushed off a cigar and is actually a sign of proper aging. It is not be confused with mold, which is blue or green in color and is very harmful.

Cuban cigars manufactured prior to Fidel Castro’s ascent to power in January of 1959.

Cuban cigars manufactured before the enactment of President Kennedy’s U.S. trade embargo against Cuba in 1962.

Many kinds of presses are used in the manufacture of premium cigars. Some are powered by hand to compress the cigar molds after the tobacco bunches have been created. These presses help to give the cigars their precise shapes. Pneumatic presses are used in larger factories. Industrial hydraulic presses are also used to compress the tobacco bales after fermentation is complete.

The vertical sections of a tobacco plant are called primings. Each priming yields leaves that are suited to be rolled into specific components of a cigar. The most common primings (beginning at the bottom of the plant and going up) are Volado, Seco, Viso, and Ligero. Tobacco leaves are always harvested from the bottom up, typically two or three leaves at a time. The tobacco leaves increase in strength as you go higher on the plant with the top leaves being the strongest because they get the most sunlight. Between the harvests of each priming, a few days pass giving the plant ample time to continue maturing.

Also called 50/50, propylene glycol is a solution used to soak the humidification unit in a humidor. When humidifying cigars, distilled water or propylene glycol should be used, not tap water which has the potential to create mold. Propylene glycol offers an advantage over distilled water because it won’t oversaturate your cigars or humidor. It is designed to stop releasing humidity when the environment inside a humidor reaches 70% RH (relative humidity).

A cigar cutter with a circular blade designed to remove a precise section of the cap on a traditional Parejo. Punch-cutters are also called bullet-cutters. They are available in a variety of ring gauges to accommodate thinner or thicker cigars. A punch-cutter should be used with a gradual or careful pressure in a twisting motion so as not to crack the head or wrapper leaf on a cigar.

Blowing smoke from the head of cigar out through the foot is called purging a cigar. The purpose of purging a cigar is to eliminate the buildup of unwanted flavors.

Purging is also another term for bleeding a butane lighter, or releasing the air pocket or bubble from inside of the fuel tank by pressing in on the fuel valve. Purging a lighter, increases its efficiency. Because the tank is completely emptied, the lighter can receive a full injection of fuel.

Spanish for “cigar,” Puro also refers specifically to cigars that are made with tobaccos grown in one nation. Flor de las Antillas (blended by Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia for the My Father brand) is a Puro because its binder, filler, and wrapper leaves are all grown in Nicaragua.

Also called a Torpedo, a Pyramid is a cigar shape that tapers sharply at the head with an open foot.

Q

A structure used to cure tobacco in certain areas of the Dominican Republic. A quisqueya is a more rudimentary and less protective structure than a traditional curing barn.

R

Cuban cigars released only in specific regions.

The former name of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR), a trade organization that consists of premium tobacco retailers in the U.S.

The diameter of a cigar is measured in ring gauge, or millimeters (64ths of an inch), the same as your finger would be measured for a wedding ring. A standard Robusto is 5 inches by a 50 ring gauge, or 50mm thickness. Today a number of incredibly large ring gauges exist, some more than 60 or 70mm.

The most popular cigar shape in the world, Robustos measure from 4.75 inches to 5.75 inches in length with a 48 to a 52 ring gauge.

In a cigar factory the roller is the worker who makes the cigar. In some factories the process of assembling the interior components of a cigar (the binder and filler) are handled separately from application of the wrapper leaf. The worker who rolls the cigar into its wrapper leaf is the roller while the worker who creates the binder and the filler is called a buncher.

The area or floor in a cigar factory where the cigar rollers craft the cigars by hand. In some factories, a cigar roller assembles the binder and filler tobaccos as well as the wrapper leaf. In other factories, the binder and filler tobaccos are assembled by a “buncher,” while the cigar roller wraps the finished bunch in a wrapper leaf.

How a cigar is made. Three common processes exist: booking, the accordion method, and entubado (or entubar). Booking is layering the tobacco leaves like the pages in a book. In the accordion method the leaves are folded in a zig zag pattern like the bellows of an accordion. And with entubado, each leaf of filler tobacco is rolled up like a scroll or tube before it is assembled into the binder.

Often made of wood, a rolling table is where a cigar roller sits to make cigars.

Spanish for “rose-colored,” Rosado refers to Cuban-seed tobaccos that exhibit a reddish-brown color.

S

A large, complex, and impressive cigar shape. A Salomon is a Diadema with bulbous, elongated proportions. A Salomon is typically 7.25 inches with a 57 ring gauge (at its thickets point). The head of the cigar is tapered and the cigar swells to its thickest measurement towards the foot which is finished with a nipple at the tip. Because of their sweeping, curvaceous shapes, Salomons require great skill to craft. Even a highly experienced cigar roller can only make roughly 50 or 60 in a day.

A type of wrapper leaf named for the region in Mexico where it is grown. Sometimes called San Andrés Negro, the tobacco is stalk cut, often dark brown in color. It can exhibit either an oily or dyer texture. San Andrés wrappers appear on many celebrated cigars. It is prized for its rich, spicy and sweet taste.

Grown in the Dominican Republic, San Vincente is a tobacco hybrid.

Also called libre de pie, sand leaf refers to the lowest leaves on a tobacco plant. It is typically discarded.

The second largest city in the Dominican Republic and the area where most Dominican cigar production takes place.

A string used to bind tobacco leaves together in a curing barn.

SCHIP stands for the State Children’s Health Care Initiative Program. The program was expanded with $32.8 billion in funds generated by the federal excise tax on cigars – a tax paid when cigars are imported into the United States. Upon the passage of the SHCIP expansion in April of 2009, the federal excise tax skyrocketed from less than 5 cents per cigar to 40.26 cents per cigar, an increase that was mostly passed onto consumers.

Another way to cut a cigar is with a scissors cutter. Special cigar-cutting scissors are made with blades that have a sloping edge designed to embrace the cap on a standard Parejo without cracking the wrapper when the cut is applied. Although traditional models are not necessarily pocket friendly, Xikar makes a scissors cutter that easily folds up and can fit on a keyring.

One of the key primings of tobacco leaves on a plant. Seco is typically harvested from the mid-section of the plant. It is the thinnest and mildest leaf used in the filler of a cigar.

Tobacco seedlings are planted in seedbeds, also called canteros. Many cigar-makers now plant tobacco seedlings in trays kept inside greenhouses where they are protected from the elements and conditions can closely be monitored. As a measure of insurance against unpredictable or catastrophic weather, tobacco growers plant many more seedlings than what they actually need.

When a tobacco seed is planted, it becomes a seedling after roughly 60 days. A seedling is a few inches high. Today, many cigar-makers plant seedlings in trays or raised beds inside of greenhouses, as opposed to the traditional method of planting the seedling directly in the ground. From a tray or seedbed, seedlings are eventually transferred and replanted in a proper tobacco field.

A plain cedar cigar box with a clasp on the front and two rear hinges.

Wrapper leaves grown under a tent (historically made from cheesecloth, and nylon today) are called Shade Grown. The cloth, or tent, filters the sunlight which results in a wrapper that is thinner and more elastic or workable than tobacco leaves exposed to direct sunlight. Shade Grown wrappers are most commonly associated with Connecticut wrappers. They are also called Connecticut Shade wrappers.

Also called chopped-filler, short-filler refers to chopped up tobacco scraps predominantly used in cheap machine-made cigars. Short-filler tobaccos burn hotter and faster than traditional long-fillers. Cuban sandwich cigars, which are still made by hand, use a combination of short-filler and long-filler tobaccos.

Part of a cigar’s anatomy where the body of the cigar curves to meet the cap. It’s always recommended to cut the cigar above the shoulder or the cap line so that the bottom portion of the cap remains intact. Cutting below the shoulder can cause a cigar’s wrapper to come unraveled.

The unit of measure for a single cigar (as opposed to a box).

Also called a cabinet selection box, slide lid boxes typically contain 25 or 50 cigars bound by a ribbon. Cigars packaged in this method are afforded more air in between each cigar. Some cigar lovers believe slide lid boxes benefit the aging process.

A small-batch cigar is similar to a limited edition. Limited editions are typically made only one time in a smaller production and are not rereleased in subsequent years. Small-batch cigars may get rereleased, or they may be produced annually, but they are simply made in very small quantities, often due the rarity of the tobaccos used.

The duration of time a cigar will burn for. Generally, a 5 x 50 Robusto burns for around 30 minutes, while a 7.5 x 52 Double Corona can burn for over an hour. Thinner cigars burn hotter and faster than thicker cigars.

Spanish cedar is technically cedrela, a tree in the mahogany family. It is harvested in tropical regions and is ideal for making cigar boxes and humidors because it reacts positively with moisture and can benefit cigars as they age.

A thin strip of Spanish cedar used to light a cigar in a traditional manner. The spill is lit with a lighter or matches. A burning spill can generate a sizeable flame and it will not impact the taste of a premium cigar with any residual impurities, as can be found in certain types of lighter fuel.

A method of harvesting tobacco where the whole plant is cut at once, as opposed to select primings of a plant’s leaves being harvested in succession over a period of days. After a plant has been stalk cut, it is allowed to wilt. The plants are then speared with wooden lathes and hung upside down in a curing barn. Connecticut Broadleaf and San Andrés tobaccos are the most closely associated with the stalk cutting method.

Another term for destemming, or removing the stems from a tobacco plant. The stems on a tobacco plant are very thick and must be removed before the leaves are rolled into cigars. The entire stem is removed for binder and wrapper leaves, but typically only the bottom two thirds of the stem are removed in filler leaves.

Stow-Gee

A slang term for a cigar, often used to indicate cheap cigars. The term derives from the drivers of Conestoga wagons in the 1700s and 1800s because they smoked, long thin cigars with a rougher appearance.

Tobacco plants can produce unwanted shoots called suckers. Workers must remove these shoots from the plants or they will rob the tobacco of precious nutrients. Bigger, healthier and more flavorful leaves grow as result.

Also called Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), it is the price a manufacturer or distributor will charge for a cigar. Although the federal excise tax is often included in the MSRP, state tobacco taxes and local sales taxes are not included. Therefore, the price of the same cigar can vary greatly from one state to the next.

Tobacco exposed to direct sunlight as it grows is called Sun Grown, as opposed to Shade Grown tobacco which is grown under a nylon or mesh covering. Sun Grown tobaccos exhibit thicker leaves with stronger veins. Sun Grown tobaccos are fuller in flavor and stronger than Shade Grown. All filler tobacco is Sun Grown.

T

The term for a tobacco grower in Cuba.

The sticker that conceals the nail in the lid on a box of cigars. The Tapacalvo wraps from the top of the box over the front edge.

Spanish for “covered,” it refers to the nylon or mesh tents or tarps used to conceal Shade Grown tobaccos from direct sunlight.

Taxes on cigars are levied in a variety of ways at the federal, state, and municipal levels. The federal excise tax on cigars was used to fund the State Children’s Health Care Initiative Program (SCHIP) in 2009, with dramatic increase from less than 5 cents per cigar to 40.26 cents per cigar. Differences in sales taxes and other tobacco taxes from one state or municipality to another can cause major fluctuations in the price of a cigar at the cash register.

Another name for a Lieberman, which is the hand-powered machine cigar rollers use to create tobacco bunches. Temscos are more common in cigar factories in the Dominican Republic.

Tobacco bales wrapped in palm bark to age fermented tobacco are called tercios.

A common form of packaging cigars. Thirteen toppers are rectangular-shaped boxes with 12 cigars, plus a space holder, on the bottom row and 13 cigars on the top row. The box is usually sealed with a brass nail.

Highly destructive, miniscule beetles that can wreak havoc in a single cigar or an entire humidor. Tobacco beetles hatch when the temperature in a humidor exceeds 72 degrees. They make tiny pin holes in a cigar’s wrapper leaf, often forming a trail. Tiny, dusty crumbs of loose tobacco will shake out of the cigar into the cellophane wrapper or your humidor.

Tobacco seeds are the tiny origins of tobacco plants. Often, tobacco seeds are coated in clay, or a similar substance, to make them easy to handle. Tobacco farmers will collect seeds from their most prized plants for future crops. Once they reach the seedling stage, a tobacco plant will mature in about 60 days.

Tooth refers to tiny bumps in a cigar’s wrapper leaf. Certain wrappers like those from Cameroon are more prone to displaying tooth than others. Tooth forms as a result of oil pockets.

At the end of very year, Cigar Aficionado announces its Top 25 Cigars of the Year. The list generates buzz among consumers and retail cigar shops.

Removing the flower tobacco plants produce is called topping because in some cases the whole upper portion of the plant is removed. The process is also called desflorado. Tobacco plants redirect their nutrients to the remaining leaves, making them stronger.

Spanish for cigar roller.

A lighter fueled by butane gas that produces a concentrated flame with a single jet or multiple jets. Cigar smokers often prefer torch lighters because it’s convenient to toast the foot of a cigar quickly and to perform touch-ups if the ash burns uneven at any point.

An extremely popular cigar size measuring 6 to 6.5 inches by a 50 to 54 ring gauge.

Sometimes called a Pyramid, a Torpedo is cigar shape with a sharply tapering closed head. Technically, a Torpedo should have a closed a foot, whereas Pyramids have an open foot, however few cigar-makers acknowledge the difference in their naming conventions. As a result, Pyramid and Torpedo are frequently interchanged.

Spanish for “made totally by hand.” The phrase is displayed on cigar boxes and is preferred over “Hecho a Mano” or “made by hand” which can technically apply to cigars constructed with filler tobaccos bunched in a machine.

An agricultural implement used by tobacco farmers to plant large numbers of tobacco seedlings in a short period of time. A tractor tows the transplanter which digs a channel for the seedlings to go in. Workers occupy the planter’s stations which drop the seedlings into the ground as they move along. Transplanters are not common outside of the Connecticut River Valley.

The ornamental elements that embellish the edges of cigars boxes are referred to as trim, or filete.

Inside a premium cigar, a combination of individual tobacco leaves make up the binder and filler components, called Tripa in Spanish.

Another term for a mounted head or a three-seam cap. A triple cap is a Cuban style of finishing the head on a cigar, but the practice is also used other countries, including Nicaragua, Honduras, and sometimes in the Dominican Republic.

A cigar shape where its fattest point is the foot and it continually narrows toward the head.

Often referred to as box-pressed, trunk-pressed is technically a more extreme method of pressing cigars into square shapes. Trunk-pressed shapes are most closely associated with the Padron Anniversary line. The sharper, more squared off edges of trunk-pressed cigars are achieved by placing wooden edges in between each cigar in a wooden cabinet and applying pressure.

Many manufacturers will package cigars in glass or aluminum tubes (also called tubo) for the convenience of transporting them in a pocket or suitcase. Cigars in tubes are often wrapped in cedar to preserve humidity and flavor.

Spanish for tube.

When the inner filler leaves of the cigar burn faster than the wrapper or outermost leaves. A cigar can tunnel if too much time passes between draws. Rotating your cigar while smoking it is also helpful to avoid the condition.

U

Cigars that rolled with too little tobacco in the bunch are underfilled. They will burn too fast and hot and will taste right.

V

A cigar cutter that carves a V-shape into the head of the cigar. A V-cutter is designed to create a draw that pulls smoke from the upper portion of the cigar and the lower portion of the cigar and concentrate each stream directly on your palate. A V-cutter is also called wedge-cutter or a cat’s eye.

Another word for a tobacco plantation.

The part of a tobacco leaf that delivers nutrients. While veins are critical to the growth of a tobacco plant, pronounced veins are not desired in wrapper leaves. The veins are typically stripped from the wrapper. The side of the leaf where the veins are emphasized is rolled on the inside to minimize their appearance.

A cigar sampler that features one of each size or numerous sizes of one single cigar blend. Vertical cigar samplers are an excellent opportunity to taste the way different cigar shapes present a blend.

Viso is a priming of filler tobacco. On the plant, Viso is below Ligero, making it less intense than Ligero by comparison, but above Seco, making it stronger than Seco.

When opening a cigar box, the inner portion of the lid is called the vista. The vista is often adorned with a brand’s logo or ornate artwork.

Another term for a cigar’s shape. Robusto, Churchill, Toro, and Corona are all considered Vitolas.

Volado is a priming of filler tobacco on the plant. It is located near the bottom under the Seco. Volado is stronger than Seco and milder than Ligero.

 A valley in western Cuba prized for the quality of tobacco grown there.

W

Also called a V-cutter or cat’s eye, a wedge cutter carves a wedge, or V-shape, out of the head of a cigar. Wedge cutters create a draw that pulls smoke from the upper half of a cigar and the lower half of cigar and blends each stream directly on the palate.

A measurement of 100 cigars in a bundle. A wheel is typically bound by a ribbon.

After stalk-cut tobacco has been harvested, it is laid on the ground to wilt in the sun.

The best way to light a cigar with matches is with a wooden match, preferably a long cedar match.

Premium cigars are finished with a wrapper leaf. The wrapper is the highest quality and most pristine tobacco leaf in a premium cigar. Ideally, the wrapper leaf is free of any cosmetic imperfections, veins, or tears. The wrapper is also the most expensive leaf in a cigar.

Y

Tobacco barns in the Connecticut River Valley are constructed with long boards called Yankee hinges, which are designed to swing open to increase the air flow.