A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaves lit for smoking. Cigars are broadly categorized according to the shape and size and the type of tobacco leaves used.
The tobacco leaves used in a cigar determine its flavor and smoking characteristics. The cigar contains three types of tobacco leaves – wrappers, fillers, and binders.
The wrapper forms the outermost covering of the cigar and determines the flavor and color of a cigar. It is considered that 40 percent of the flavor comes from the wrapper and the remaining 60 percent comes from the binder and filler. There are many types of wrappers used in cigars.
Some of the wrapper types are Caro, Colorado, and Oscuro. Caro is the lightest of the shade, i.e., greenish, Colorado is reddish brown, and Oscuro is very black. Generally, it is considered that dark wrapper adds sweetness to the cigar flavor while light ones add to the dryness.
Fillers determine the blend of a cigar. “Blend,” which means the flavor of a cigar, is determined and controlled by using different tobacco leaves depending upon the strength. The amount of oil present in the filler makes the blend strong.
Fillers used in handmade cigars are long; that is, whole leaves from the tobacco plant are used as fillers, while machine-made cigars use chopped leaves, also called short leaves.
Binders are used to hold the fillers. Wrappers form the third layer of a cigar. Binders are made from discarded tobacco leaves which cannot serve as wrappers.
Types of Cigars based on Size and Shape
“Vitora” is the term used together for the shape and size of a cigar. Based on shape and size, cigars are generally classified as Parejo and Figurado. Parejo is the most common and simple shape of a cigar. It is cylindrical and straight from one end to the other.
High-quality figurado cigars are available in different shapes. The very famous Torpedo, Perfecto, and Presidente are also manufactured in the shape of a rugby ball and baseball bat. However, these unusually shaped cigars are used as collectors’ items.
The size of a cigar is measured as the length of the cigar and its diameter.
Handmade and Machine-made Cigars
Handmade cigars are considered high quality – they burn well and have good flavor. While machine-made cigars are cheaper, they are considered of low quality. The handmade cigars are labeled “Hecho a mano” or “totalmente a mano.”