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Cigar 101

Long Filler Cigars

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

In the world of cigars, there is premium and there is everything else. Premium cigars, the ones you love, are characterized by the use of better parts of the tobacco plants that are then treated lovingly to make a delicious smoke. Almost always, premium cigars contain long filler.

WHAT IS LONG FILLER?

Simply, the term is self-descriptive in referring to the tobacco that goes inside the cigar. A premium cigar generally has between two and five leaves of filler tobaccos – generally seco, viso and ligero –, a blend. The whole leaves are long, folded or rolled together, and form a tube wrapped by a binder and wrapper leaves. Conversely, short-filler is made of chopped up leaves generally left over from the process of making premium cigars by hand. Short filler is used in several types of cigars that are either machine-made or a hybrid of short and some long leaves, commonly known as a Cuban Sandwich.

CIGAR FILLER TYPES

If you can, remember these words in Spanish: Tripa and picadura. The first is the term for whole tobacco leaves running the length of the cigar. Long filler. Picadura means chop, as in chopped-up tobacco. Short filler.

WHY LONG FILLER?

Short filler, small pieces of tobacco, burn quickly. They get hotter faster. Long filler burns slowly, luxuriously even, and is mellower as a result. This is a big factor in contributing to an excellent cigar-smoking experience.

BEST LONG FILLER CIGARS

The best cigars, and you know this, are made by hand using long-filler tobacco. There are many to choose from. I recommend trying a variety of vitolas, or shapes, to get an idea of how cigars of different sizes smoke in relation to one another. Among the things you should notice are complexity differences between thinner and fatter cigars and the burn rate. A thin cigar, a well-made Lancero, for example, can burn slowly, but might not be as complex as a wider-ring gauged Robusto because the former just doesn’t have the room for as many leaves inside the smaller tube. Keep in mind also that the wrapper can have greater influence on the taste when there’s less filler in the cigar. Here’s the program you can try. All of these are excellent long-filler cigars.

LANCERO

Starting out skinny, the Don Pepin Garcia Original Lancero, 7.5 x 38, about $8.50, gives you a sense of how much power can be put into a thin package. Made in Miami, this cigar has a gorgeous reddish-brown Corojo Oscuro wrapper encasing all-Nicaraguan binder and long-filler. There is a considerable amount of pepper, cocoa, cedar and earthiness here. It’s quite full-bodied and among the more complex Lanceros at this price point.  

ROBUSTO

Sure, everybody makes a Robusto. Does it get better, though, than the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto? This 5.25 x 50 (about $10) cigar is among the more popular long-filler sticks available today and is solidly medium in power with tremendous complexity, including a sweetness in the finish contributed by the shiny Cameroon wrapper. The Don Carlos is a lavish, nuanced cigar, with well-aged Dominican long-filler and binder. Earthy, with notes of cedar and oak, you’ll also get some coffee and nuttiness.

PERFECTO

The Perfecto is an elegant shape that is tapered at both ends and comes in many sizes. This is our splurge cigar. The Padron 1926 Series 80 Years, 6.75 X 54, about $32 is a full-bodied, all-Nicaraguan cigar available in a Maduro or Natural wrapper. Padron 80 Years is spicy, nutty, chocolatey and swimming with coffee and earthy cedar notes. To say this cigar is complex is an understatement.

LARGE FORMAT

The Ashton VSG Spellbound, 7.5 x 54, $16, is our “go big” cigar. Well, all VSG (Virgin Sun Grown) shapes are big in flavor and power, but this large cylinder provides the opportunity for the long-filler blend of vintage Dominican tobaccos to deliver extraordinary flavors inside an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper. The cigar is dark, oily and strong. There is a lot of interplay among the earthiness, cedar, spice, and leather.

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