The Basics...

First up...Terminology

Band - The paper ring at the top 1/3 of the cigar. The band will usually bear the name of the manufacturer, blend origin, and other information. Cigar bands are thought to have been originated for Spanish royalty. As the tobacco would stain their white gloves, the band would prevent this.

Binder - This tobacco leaf is the middle layer of the cigar. It holds the filler together and is located under the wrapper. 

Box-Pressed - A technique used after the cigar is rolled to make a square-ish (or box like) shape. This is achieved by putting the freshly rolled cigars into a specific cigar mold for a period of time.

Cap - A circular piece of tobacco, at the top of the cigar, used to hold the wrapper together.

Chaveta - A knifelike tool used by a torcedor (or professional roller) to cut the tobacco while rolling cigars.

Fermentation - After the tobacco is gathered, it is bunched up and stored in fermentation houses until the process is naturally completed. During this process, the tobacco is bunched multiple times to ensure even aging. The purpose for this very important step is to release naturally occurring ammonia from the tobacco, thus removing the harshness from the leaves.

Filler - This tobacco builds most of the body of the cigar. Most premium cigars will have more than one filler, but usually limit to no more than 5, to prevent overcomplicating of flavors. Hand-rolled cigars primarily use long filler tobaccos, as machined cigars primarily use a short filler.

Foot - This is the end of the cigar opposite the cap. The foot is the end of the cigar that is lit for smoking.

Head - The top of the cigar where the cap is affixed. 

Humidor - A (usually) Spanish cedar-lined box used to store cigars. (We'll explain why Spanish cedar is used in the Humidification section.) Recently, many have started using Tupperware, wine refrigerators, and other plastic receptacles to store cigars, as long as they are airtight. 

Hygrometer - A device stored in a humidor that detects the humidity and temperature of a humidor. This is important, as cigars must be stored in optimal conditions to stay fresh.

Long Filler - Tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar, as opposed to short filler which is chopped into small pieces.

Ring Gauge - The circumference of a cigar, measured in 1/64 of an inch.

Torcedor - A very well trained roller of premium hand rolled cigars.

Wrapper - The tobacco leaf used to hold the binder and filler together. These leaves usually are free of imperfections.


Vitola (or Shapes)

These are the most popular sizes/shapes of cigars:

Churchill - 7x48

Corona - 5.5-6x42-44

Double Corona - 7.5x54-58

Lancero - 6.5-7.5x38-42

Lonsdale - 6-6.25x42

Gordo - 6x60

Panatela - 5-6x28-38

Perfecto - Varies

Petite Corona - 4.5x40-42

Robusto - 5x50

Toro - 6x50-52

Torpedo - 6-6.5x52-56

Popular Growing Regions

The worlds most popular tobacco growing regions aren't by accident. Tobacco needs a very particular climate to grow properly. The following regions are perfectly suited for growing tobacco used in premium cigar-making:

Dominican Republic - Cuba - Nicaragua - Honduras - Mexico - United States - Africa

How cigars are constructed

The tobacco used in cigars takes approximately 2-3 years from the time it is planted until you put it to your lips.

After harvesting the tobacco leaves, they are bunched and stored in fermentation houses for a period of time to release the ammonia that is naturally present in tobacco plants.

It is then sorted and divided. Only certain leaves are used for the wrapper, binder, and fillers.

The filler is the most prevalent part of the cigar. Leaves are bunched and formed into a cylindrical shape (most of the time, unless a different vitola is being formed). 

Next, the binder leaf is wrapped around the filler to hold it together.

Last, the wrapper leaf is wrapped around the binder. The wrapper leaves are the most aesthetically appreciated part of the cigar. The wrapper is held together at the head of the cigar with the cap.

After the cigar is finished being rolled, it is trimmed to a uniform length. Some cigars are placed in a mold for a certain period of time. This is a minimum of 21 days, but some are aged for 2 years or more!

Most Popular Wrappers

There are hundreds of varieties of cigar wrapper leaves. However, the following are the most distinct:

Claro - A very light tan, usually a Connecticut shade grown leaf. 

Double Claro - Also called "Candela", is a light green color.

Colorado - A medium tan color with reddish tint.

Colorado Maduro - Not quite a brown or black, but darker than a Colorado. 

Maduro - Very dark brown, almost black