Amatista: A glass jar containing 50 or 25 cigars, sealed and sold as factory fresh.
Band: A paper ring around the head of most cigars. Legend has it that cigar bands were invented by Spanish nobles to keep their gloves from being stained. Cigar bands are often printed with the name of the brand, country of origin, and/or indication that the cigar is hand-rolled. They often have colorful graphics, which have made them a popular collectors' item.
Barrel: The main body of the cigar.
Belicoso: Traditionally a short, pyramid-shaped cigar, 5 or 5 1/2 inches in length with a shorter, more rounded taper at the head and a ring gauge of 50 or less. Belicoso is often used to describe Coronas or Corona Gordas with a tapered head.
Binder: The portion of leaf used to hold together the blend of filler leaves; with the wrapper and filler, it is one of the three main components in a cigar.
Blend: The mix tobacco in a cigar, including up to five types of filler leaves, a binder leaf and an outer wrapper.
Bloom: A harmless white film or spots on the wrapper caused by oils in the tobacco rising to the surface. Stress to the cigar (RH or Temp.) might spur bloom onto the wrapper. Also called Plume.
Body: The main or middle part of the cigar. Same as Barrel.
Body Guard: When sending a package or bundle of cigars to another smoker, whether as a sale or for gratis, the inclusion of an extra cigar or two are referred to as Body Guards for the bundle.
Boite Nature: The cedar box in which many cigars are sold. Book Style (also, Booking) A rolling method by which the cigarmaker lays the filler leaves atop one another, then rolls them up like a scroll.
Bomb: Among groups of cigar smokers, the anonymous giving, or sending, small packages of cigars to another smoker without expectation of a return in kind.
Book style, or booking: is common in Honduras. The alternate style is based on the old Cuban method called entubar.
Bouquet The smell, or nose of a fine cigar. A badly stored cigars can lose its bouquet.
Box: The container used to package cigars. Traditional styles include:
o Cabinet Selection: Wood box with a sliding top, designed to hold 25 or 50 cigars.
o 8-9-8: A round-sided box designed to hold three rows of cigars with eight on the top, nine in the middle
and eight on the bottom.
o Flat Top or 13-topper: a flat rectangular box which is the most common container used today.
This package holds 13 cigars on the top and 12 cigars on the bottom.
Box-pressed: The slightly square appearance taken on by cigars packed tightly in a box.
Bull's-Eye Piercer: A device for opening the closed head of A cigar before smoking.
Bunch: Up to four different types of filler tobacco blended to create the body of the cigar. The bunch is held together by the binder.
Bundle: A packaging method designed with economy in mind that uses a cellophane overwrap. It usually contains 25 or 50 cigars, traditionally without bands. Bundles, oftentimes seconds of premium brands, are usually less expensive than boxed cigars.
Burros (also called bulks): The piles, or bulks, in which cigar tobacco is fermented. They can be six feet tall and are carefully monitored. If the heat level inside them gets too high, the burro is taken apart to slow the fermentation.
Cabinet Selection: Cigars packed in a wooden box rather than the standard cardboard or paper-covered cigar boxes. These are preferable when buying cigars for aging.
Candela: A bright green shade of wrapper, achieved by a heat-curing process that fixes the chlorophyll content of the wrapper while it's still in the barn. Also referred to as double claro.
Cap: A circular piece of wrapper leaf placed at the head of the cigar.
Capa: The cigar's wrapper (also called the binder).
Case: In the cigar production process, workers case (slightly moisten) aged tobacco so it will be easy for hand rollers to work with.
Catador: A professional cigar taster who determines a cigar's qualities of taste, texture and aroma.
Chaveta: (roller's knife) The knife used in a cigar factory for cutting the wrapper leaf.
Churchill: A large Corona-format cigar.
Claro: The lightest in color (like milky coffee) wrapper, usually mild and is also sometimes called a "natural."
Colorado: A medium-brown to brownish-red shade of wrapper tobacco. Colorado cigars are usually aromatic and are associated with well-matured cigars.
Corojos: Plants chosen to provide wrapper leaves and grown under a gauze sunscreen.
Corona: The most familiar size and shape for premium cigars: generally straight-sided with an open foot and a closed, rounded head.
Culebra: A cigar made of three Panetelas braided together.
Curing: The process of drying newly harvested tobaccos.
Cut Filler: Filler tobacco consisting of chopped pieces most common in machine-made cigars.
Cutter: A device for clipping the end off of a cigar. Some resemble scissors with curved blades; others look like small guillotines for making a straight or B-shaped notch, others reveal a punch that cuts a round hole in the end of the cigar.
Demitasse: A small cigar around 4 inches by 30 ring gauge.
Diademas: A big cigar with a closed and tapered head, generally about eight inches long; the foot may be open or closed like a Perfecto.
Dominican Republic: East of Cuba with a similar growing climate, the Dominican Republic has recently become a major exporter of cigars, mostly to the U.S.
Double Claro: A cigar, greenish brown, from an unmatured leaf that was dried fast. These cigars are mild or bland with little oil. (See Candela)
Double Corona: (also called prominente) A big cigar, generally 7 1/2 to 8 inches by a 49 to 52 ring gauge.
Draw: The flow of smoke from a cigar.
English Market Selection: a color designation for wrapper leaves that are somewhat lighter in color than Maduro, especially selected for taste and bouquet. Also referred to as Naturals.
Entubar: A rolling method that originated in Cuba. Rather than booking the filler leaves, the roller folds each individual filler leaf back on itself, then bunches the leaves together. Proponents of this method say it creates superior air flow through the cigar, which results in a more even draw and burn.
Escaparates: Cooling cabinets in which cigars are kept at the factory for a few weeks after they have been rolled.
Fermentation: After harvest, the tobacco leaves are gathered in large bulks (or piles), then moistenedand allowed to ferment. Temperatures may reach 140 F before the bulk is broken down and restacked until fermentation stops naturally. This process, called working the bulk, releases ammonia from the tobacco.
Figurado: A Spanish term that refers to cigars with shapes sizes, such as Belicosos, Torpedos, Pyramids, Perfectos and Culebras (see our Shapes and Shades page).
Filler: The individual tobacco used in the body of the cigar. A fine cigar usually contains between two to five different types of filler. Handmade cigars have long fillers where machine made cigars usually contain smaller-cut leaf.
Finish: A tasting term which refers to the taste that lingers on your palate after a puff. Mild cigars do not have much finish, either in terms of length or complexity, but stronger, more full-bodied cigars have distinctive flavors that linger.
Flag: An extension of the wrapper leaf shaped to finish the head of a cigar; used instead of a cap. Flags are sometimes tied off in a pigtail or a curly head.
Foot: The end of the cigar one lights. Most often it is pre-cut, except in the case of Torpedos and Perfectos.
Galara: Ther room in which cigars are rolled at the factory.
Gran Corona: A very large cigar; generally 9 1/4 inches by 47 ring gauge.
Gum: A vegetable adhesive used to secure the head of the wrapper leaf around the finished bunch.
Habana: A designation which, when inscribed on a cigar band, indicates that a cigar is Cuban. (Note: not all Cuban cigars are marked with "Habana" or "Havana.")
Half-wheel: (media ruedas) A bundle of 50 cigars. Cigar rollers usually use ribbon to tie the cigars they produce into half-wheels. Hand Individual tobacco leaves hung together after harvest and tied at the top. These hands are piled together to make a bulk for fermentation.
Handmade: A cigar made entirely by hand with high-quality wrapper and long filler. All premium cigars are handmade. Hand-rollers can generally use more delicate wrapper leaves than machines.
Hand-rolled A cigar made entirely by hand with high-quality wrapper and long filler. Head The closed end of the cigar opposite from the end one lights.
Herf: A gathering of cigar smokers. Usually an intentional gathering surrounding a brand or even a cigar personality, but can
mean any gathering of Cigar Smokers for the purpose of smoking and discussing cigars and cigar enjoyment.
Homogenized Binder: Binder made of chopped tobacco leaf and cellulose; used most often in machine production and to facilitate the burn of certain products.
Hot: Describes a cigar that is underfilled and has a quick, loose draw. Can cause harsh flavors.
Humidor: A room or a box, of varying sizes, designed to preserve or promote the proper storage and aging of cigars by maintaining a relative humidity level of 70 percent and a temperature of approximately 65 to 70 F.
Hygrometer: A device that indicates the humidity (percentage of moisture in the air; used to monitor humidor conditions.
Lance: A cutter used to pierce a small hole in the closed end of a cigar. Also called a piercer.
Lector: Traditionally, the person who reads to the cigar rollers while they work.
Ligero: One of the three basic types of filler tobacco. The name means light in Spanish, but this aromatic tobacco lends body to a blend.
Long Ashes: A common term among Cigar Smokers meaning well being. Comes from the idea that a long ash during a smoke
signified a good cigar construction, and a good smoke.
Long Filler: Filler tobacco that runs the length of the body of the cigar, rather than chopped pieces found in machine-made cigars.
Lonsdale: A long cigar; generally 6 to 6 3/4 inches by a 42 to 44 ring gauge, but there are many variations.
Machine-made: Cigars made entirely by machine, using heavier-weight wrappers and binders and, frequently, cut filler in place of long filler.
Maduro: A cigar, very dark brown in color (like black coffee). These are usually selected by experienced smokers. Thought of as the traditional Cuban color.
Mold: The device used in making cigars that gives shape to a finished bunch and including the filler and binder. Also, a fungus which is potentially damaging to the wrapper, that forms on cigars when they are stored at too high a relative humidity or temperature.
Oil : The mark of a well-humidified cigar. Even well-aged cigars secrete oil at 70 to 72 percent relative humidity, the level at which they should be stored.
Oleoresens: Oils and resins found in tobacco that give it its smoking qualities.
Oscuro: A cigar, black, very strong with little bouquet and are not produced in large quantities.
Panetela : A long, thin cigar shape.
Parejos: Straight-sided cigars, such as coronas, panetelas and lonsdales.
Perfecto: A distinctive cigar shape that is closed at both ends, with a rounded head; usually with a bulge in the middle.
Petit Corona: A short corona format usually 4 1/2 inches by a 40 ring gauge.
Piercer: A cutter used to pierce a small hole in the closed end of a cigar. Also called a lance.
Planchas: Boards on which tobacco leaves are spread before fermentation.
Plug: A blockage that sometimes occurs in the tobacco that can prevent a cigar from drawing properly. A plug can sometimes be alleviated by gently massaging the cigar.
Primings: The rows of leaves on a tobacco plant. The number of primings varies, but six is average. The first priming is closest to the ground, the sixth is near the top. The higher the, priming the stronger the tobacco.
Puro: A Spanish term used to distinguish a cigar from a cigarette. Modern usage refers to a cigar blended with tobaccos from a single country. (All Cuban cigars use 100 percent Cuban tobacco, so all Cuban cigars, according to modern usage, are puros.) Pyramid A sharply tapered cigar with a wide, open foot and a closed head.
Retro-hale: The act of blowing cigar smoke out through the nose after taking a puff. Allows the superior number and quality
of taste sensors in the nasal cavity to sample the smoke for a better taste evaluation.
Ring Gauges: The circumference of cigars. A measurement for the diameter of a cigar, based on 64ths of an inch. A 40 ring gauge cigar is 40/64ths of an inch thick.
Robusto: A substantial, but short cigar; traditionally 5 to 5 1/2 inches by a 50 ring gauge.
Rosado: A Spanish term that means "rose-colored." It is used to describe the reddish tint of some Cuban-seed wrapper.
Seco: The Spanish word for dry, seco is a type of filler tobacco. It often contributes aroma and is usually medium-bodied.
Shade-grown: Wrapper leaves that have been grown under a cheesecloth tent, called a tapado. The filtered sunlight creates a thinner, more elastic leaf.
Short Filler: Used mainly in machine-made cigars, it consists of chopped scraps of leaf. Short filler burns quicker and hotter than long filler.
Smoking Time: A 5-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, such as a robusto, should provide anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of smoking pleasure. A double corona, a 7 1/2-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, may give over an hour's worth of smoking time. A thinner cigar, such as a lonsdale, smokes in less time than a cigar with a 50 ring gauge.
Shoulder: The area of a cigar where the cap meets the body. If you cut into the shoulder, the cigar will begin to unravel.
Spanish Cedar: The kind of wood that is used to make most cigar boxes and humidors.
Spill : A strip of cedar used to light a cigar when using a candle or a fluid lighter, both of which can alter the taste of the cigar.
Sugar : Sugars occur naturally in tobacco. Darker wrappers, such as maduros, contain more sugar, making them sweeter. Sun-grown Tobacco grown in direct sunlight, which creates a thicker leaf with thicker veins.
Tapado: A cheesecloth tent under which shade-grown wrapper leaf is cultivated.
Torcedores: A person who rolls cigars. Torpedo A cigar shape that features a closed foot, a pointed head and a bulge in the middle.
Totalamente a Mano: Made totally by hand; a description found on cigar boxes. Much better than "Hecho a Mano" (made by hand, which can mean it is filled with machine-bunched filler), or "Envuelto a Mano" (packed by hand).
Tubos: Cigars packed in individual wood, metal or glass tubes to keep them fresh.
Tunneling: The unwelcome phenomenon of having your cigar burn unevenly. To prevent it, rotate your cigar now and then.
Vega: A tobacco plantation.
Vein: The rib of the tobacco leaf. A quality cigar should not be too veined.
Vintage: When a vintage is used for a cigar, it usually refers to the year the tobacco was harvested, not the year the cigar was made.
Viso: A glossy wrapper leaf grown under cover.
Vitola: The shape of a cigar, parejo, figurado, torpedo are vitolas of different shapes.
Volado: A type of filler tobacco chosen for its burning qualities.
Wedge Cut: A V-shaped cut made in the closed end of a cigar.
Wrapper (capa): Leaves with elasticity are used to restrain the filler within the cigar. Good wrappers usually have no visable veins. Colors vary due to the maturing process.
The growing, processing and storing of cigar tobacco is a very complex subject. The finishing of the tobacco leaves, fermenting and aging is a further complex subject. And, of course, the rolling, storing, shipping, distributing, selling, marketing of premium hand-made cigars is a huge business. Then, there is the home storage, cutting, lighting, smoking, and enjoying the end result. All of these stages of cigar development and enjoyment are complex and covered by their own language and descriptive phrases. Knowledge and understanding of these words and terms is considered basic and fundamental in becoming and enjoying being a Cigar Smoker. This page contains a glossary of most of those terms and definitions. As the list is exhaustive, it is probably not complete. If you look here for a definition and cannot find it, please contact Ken (via the contact page of this site) and it will be added to the long list.
Scroll down for the list... And at the bottom is a list of some odd and useful cigar trivia...
Common Terms and Sayings
Surprising and Entertaining Trivia about Cigars and Cigar Smoking...
In The Past…
1. Connecticut Broadleaf, the first great US cigar tobacco, was developed around the 1820s.
2. Originating in Cuba, Culebras are three individual cigars braided and tied together.
3. The phrase, “Close, but no cigar,” originated in the day when a cigar was a popular carnival game prize.
4. The Cohiba brand was founded in 1966 for Fidel Castro and other government officials.
5. In the late 19th century, there were nearly 10,000 operating cigar factories located in Pennsylvania and New York.
In The Field…
6. Cigar tobacco plants need approximately eight hours of sunlight each day.
7. There are countless tobacco seed strains in each varietal family that cigar makers experiment with.
8. Cigar tobacco is typically grown within valleys due to the benefit of erosion and irrigation.
9. Sections of the tobacco plant from top to bottom are commonly classified as: corona, ligero, viso, seco, and volado.
10. Tobacco seeds are extremely small. Just one flower can hold around 3000 seeds.
In The Factory…
11. Large cigar factories can typically produce around 70 to 100,000 handmade cigars a day.
12. Tobacco leaves must have a humidity level of around 80 to 95% when being rolled in to a cigar.
13. A highly skilled or specifically trained cigar roller is referred to as a torcedor.
14. Cigar makers will often adjust filler tobacco ratios in a particular blend to compensate for various ring gauges.
15. A meticulous fermentation process, prior to being rolled into a cigar, accounts for the majority of the taste and aroma.
In The Humidor…
16. The very first cigar humidifiers were made from hardened clay.
17. Water vapor is lighter than dry air so the humidity inside your humidor will naturally rise before becoming uniform.
18. A properly conditioned cigar can age and mature for a lifetime or more.
19. Spanish cedar used inside humidors is typically kiln-dried to prevent the bleeding of sap.
20. Prolonged exposure to light will eventually fade a cigars wrapper and evaporate essential oils.
21. Correcting an uneven burn with your lighter will help restore the cigars intended flavor profile.
22. The color of a cigar is not an indication of its strength.
23. A cigar box is not intended to be humidor and will lose humidity over time if not properly stored.
24. Warming a small bowl of distilled water in the microwave and placing it in your humidor can help expedite the humidor seasoning process.
25. Re-sealable plastic bags will only preserve you cigars for a week or two before gradually losing humidity