All handmade cigars (the only kind we smoke) are made in much the same way, and their construction is the same and is simply composed of 3 separate parts: the filler, the binder, and the wrapper.
The filler. This is the largest amount of tobacco contained in the cigar. It is the center of the cigar, made up of full leaf tobacco of many origins. The mixture of the filler tobacco is called the "blend". When you see a cigar description of a cigar which mentions the blend, this is what is being described. Many of the great names in cigars are "Master Blenders". I don't know where, or who, assigns them the title of Master, but that is what they are called, and their work is most important to the cigar, especially Caribbean cigars, or those made outside of Cuba. All Cuban cigars contain a blend of wholly Cuban filler. More about Cubans and blenders in general later. The filler of a cigar contains the majority of tobacco leaves. In Caribbean cigars, these leaves can come from many locations or different fields within a single location. But, they are all whole tobacco leaves, thus the label "Long Leaf". The distinct mixture of the tobacco leaves within the filler is at the creation of the "blender", one of many.
The binder: This is a leaf of tobacco that is not necessarily of the quality that finds itself in the filler. It could be from a certain part of the tobacco plant, harvested at a different time, or a totally different plant dedicated to being binders. Anyway, its function is to hold, or bind, the loose tobacco leaves of the filler into a tube shape. The binder leaf has little impart into the flavor of the cigar, but is generally stated in the cigar's construction details. After the filler has been wrapped in the binder and the result is tube shaped, it is placed into a cigar mold to be pressed into the fine tubular shapes of cigars.
The wrapper: The wrapper is a fine, delicate tobacco leaf, generally specially grown, that is wrapped (rolled) around the tube of the cigar after it is removed from the wooden mold. Estimates, and opinions, vary about the amount of flavor derived from the single wrapper leaf of a cigar, but generally it is 50%. That is: 50% from the filler and binder, and 50% from the wrapper. I don't know, but do know that the wrapper is what you see when you shop for a cigar, and it is what you feel when you caress it, besides holding the whole thing together. Applying the wrapper is a critical, and difficult, job to be done correctly, and over and over again.
So, this doesn't have any data about the plants themselves, or the fields, or the drying barns, or the preparation of the leaves for rolling, or the fermentation sheds or barrels, or the application of the bands and insertion into cello sleeves, or placement into boxes. All of that is beyond the scope of this page, but does indicate just about how much labor and effort, and the number of folks involved, in the creation of your smoking enjoyment. Not to mention the business risks involved with farmers and supply, rain, dirt, bugs, and who know what all.
Given all of the above, its a wonder that we have so many to choose from, or any to smoke at all. But, it is a time honored business that has been around longer than we can know, as the Indians of North and South America were smoking cigars made from tobacco long before the invasion of "civilization".
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