Cigar Terms

 

8-9-8

A form of packaging in which there are three rows of cigars in the box; eight in the bottom row, nine in the middle, and eight in the top: created so the cigars would not be pressed and stay round in shape.


Aging

Allowing cigars to ‘sleep’ in a proper temperature and humidified environment for long periods of time; usually measured in ‘seasons’ such as winter, spring, summer, fall and/or years.


Aging Room

Also called a Marrying Room; usually cedar lined, there the completed cigars are permitted to rest, so that their various tobaccos can reach a constant humidity level while their flavors blend.


Beetle or Tobacco Beetle

The evil cigar bug called Lacioderma; the only insect that will eat tobacco; all tobacco has the Lacioderma larva; most established manufactures treat the tobacco and finished cigars to kill the larva; however, the larva will hatch if the cigars are kept in temperatures over 78 degrees (see also Freezing).


Belicoso

A thick ‘shaped’ cigar with a tapered head and foot, generally with a ring gauge of 52 or more.


Binder

The leaf that is wrapped around the filler to hold the cigar together before it is finished and enclosed in the wrapper leaf.


Blender

The cigar maker responsible for the blend of tobaccos that goes to the rollers for assembling the cigars; the blending process is closely guarded secret.


Bloom

When cigars ferment in the box they exude small amounts of oils that can dry to a white powder, which can be brushed off; it is not to be confused with blue mold, which causes a stain on the wrapper and can ruin the cigar.


Bouquet

The smell of tobacco when you open a cigar box, the smell of fine cigars before you light up. (see also aroma).


Box-Pressed

Describes cigars that are actually pressed in their boxes, giving them a somewhat squared-off shape.


Bunch

The leaves used to make up the filler and the binder, when they are ready for the wrapper; they are bunched together, hence the name.


Bundle

Another form of packaging, where cigars are sold in sets of twenty-five to fifty, usually tied together with a ribbon. Most bundles are then wrapped in cellophane or paper.


Butt

The small tied ends of a hand of tobacco; can also be used to describe someone who doesn’t agree with your choice of cigars!


Cabinet Box

A cigar box without stickers or labels; usually unfinished Spanish cedar or mahogany.


Café

A very light colored wrapper. Pale tan or even pale green. See also Double Claro or "Claro Claro".


Candela

Another term for claro claro or double claro; see also AMS (American Market Selection) or Café.


Canon

(pronounced ‘canyon’) The body of a cigar between the tuck end and the head.


Cap

The piece of wrapper that covers the head of the cigar; usually trimmed prior to smoking.


Capote

Binder in Spanish.


Casa de tabaco

Curing barn on a tobacco plantation (Vega); usually a wooden building with a thatched roof.


Chaveta

A small semicircular sharp-edged instrument used by rollers for cutting the wrapper leaf and rolling the cigar; their only tool; today’s Chavetas are usually hand made out of old saw blades.


Cheroot

A rustic looking cigar, often medium to long in length and with a narrow ring size; their wrapper tend to be rough and veiny.


Churchill

One of the classic cigar sizes, 7 inches by 47 ring gauge, named after the great British statesman Winston Churchill.


Claro

One of the seven classifications of wrapper according to color and maturity; pale green to light tan or pale brown.


Clear Havana

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, a cigar made in the Key West or Tampa area, from all Cuban tobacco.


Cohiba

Cuban native (Taino) Indian word for cigar; applied in the late 1960’s to Castro’s personal diplomatic brand, which went on sale to the public after about a decade.


Colorado

One of the seven wrapper classifications according to color and maturity of the leaf; medium brown to brownish red; also referred to as EMS (English Market Selection).


Colorado Claro

The medium-brown-shaded wrapper: also referred to as “natural”.

 

Colorado Maduro

The dark-brown-shaded wrapper; somewhat lighter and more aromatic than Maduro.


Corojo

The Cuban wrapper plant, shade-grown and named for the famous old plantation where it was developed, El Corojo Vega: it has six categories of leaf, from top to bottom: corona, centro gordo, centro fino, centro ligero, uno y medio, and libre del pie; sometimes the top leaves are divided into corona and semi corona, making seven categories.


Corona

The classic midsize cigar, 5½“ x 42 rings; also, the leaves highest on the Cuban wrapper (corojo) plant.


Criollo

(pronounced Cree-oh-yoss) The Cuban filler plant; a Cuban term for descendants of the original Spaniards, but it is also a strain of Cuban tobacco from which filler blends and binders are derived; a third definition is the name given to the harsh cigars smoked by Cubans locally.


Cuban Embargo

A U.S. law signed in October 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, prohibiting trade with Cuba in retaliation for Cuban nationalization of American businesses.


Culebra

The most exotic of all shaped cigars, it is actually three panatelas braided together; literally “snake” in Spanish; Culebras originated in the 19th century as a means to stop workers from stealing the cigars they were rolling; it was decided to allocate three cigars per day to each worker and to have them twisted together while they were still wet, in that way it would be easy to spot which cigars were not supposed to be leaving the premises.


Curly Head

A method of finishing the head of a cigar by giving the tobacco there a quick twist.


Dead Solider

A phrase coined during the Civil War for the old cigar butts left lying around by Andrew Jackson.


Double Claro

The lightest-shade wrapper; same as claro claro or candela.


Double Corona

A classic large cigar shape with dimensions of 7½“ to 8” by 48 to 52-ring gauge.


Dutch Cigars

A nonhumidified cigar; you’ll also see them referred to as ‘dry cigars’; they are usually quite small in size.


EMS

(English Market Selection: The range of brown-colored wrappers that have been traditionally most popular in the U.K.


Fabrica

A cigar factory.


Fancy Tail

Another name for the Curly Head.


Fermentation

The process by which harvested, cured tobacco leaves are placed in large piles; sap and ammonia seep out, starch in the leaves turns to sugar, and they acquire finesse and character; due to fermentation, tobacco for premium cigars contains less acidity, tar, and nicotine than cigarette tobacco.


Figurado

Spanish for “shaped”; any cigar that is not the standard cylindrical shape with parallel sides and rounded head. For example, belicosos, torpedoes, pyramids or pyramids, perfectos, and culebras.


Filler

The tobacco that makes up the interior of the cigar; also known as the bunch.


Flag Cap

A wrapper leaf that is expertly twisted to form the cap of the cigar, rather than attaching a separate piece of wrapper; found only on certain super-premium cigars, such as the Cohiba Corona Especial.


Flat Head

A cigar style in which the head is flat; customary in many premium Cuban cigars.


Foot

The opposite end from the head; the end of the cigar you light; also called the Tuck.


Freezing

Common method used to kill the tobacco beetle, or the larva before they hatch; recommendations for freezing cigars include sealing in an air tight bag in an extremely low temperature of minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 days (72 hours); note: this is a MUCH lower temperatures than your home refrigerator-freezer will go; then move to a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees for 24 hours so that the wrapper leaf does not crack due to the drastic temperature increase, then keep the cigars in room.


Frontmark

The name of a cigar’s shape that is printed on the outside of a box.


Fuma

Another name for the curly head or pig’s tail of a cigar; it came from the phrase that came to symbolize the twisted "signature" head of the cigar maker’s smoke: La Fuma de Tabacalera (the smoke of the cigar maker); the name "fuma" stuck.


Guayavera

A traditional four-pocket shirt worn by cigar makers throughout the Caribbean; the long sleeved version of the guayavera is considered formal enough to wear to a wedding without a tie.


Gum

Vegetable gum used as adhesive to attaché the cap and/or the band to the cigar.


Handmade

A cigar manufactured entirely by hand.


Handrolled

A cigar in which only the wrapper has been rolled onto the machine-made bunch by hand, sometimes loosely used to designate a handmade cigar.


Head

The end of the cigar you must clip; the end you draw smoke from.

Hencho a Mano

Spanish for made by hand.


Herf

When people get together and are Smoking Cigars. An event nickname developed for cigar smokers in the late ninetys on a cigar smokers News Group. Herf; to smoke a cigar with others.


Homogenized Tobacco

An artificially produced tobacco that is used as a binder and occasionally as wrapper on many lower priced cigars as well as in a number of mass-market humidified cigars; homogenized tobacco is made by mixing powdered tobacco with pure cellulose, fibers and water to create a pulp, which is pressed into long, thin sheets which are dried and then wrapped in rolls; these rolls of tobacco are subsequently fed into cigar-making machines (see also HTL).


Humidor

Any sealed room or box used to keep cigars in good condition at 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit and approximately 70 percent relative humidity.


Hygrometer

A device that measures relative humidity; every humidor should have one.


Ligero

The strongest of the three types of tobacco leaves used for filler; comes from highest up on the plant, it is oilier and burns more slowly; literally “light”; see also seco and volado.


Long Filler

Tobacco leaves running the full length of a cigar rather than chopped up, as in a machine-made cigar or cigarettes.


Lonsdale

A classic size; usually 6¼“ to 6½“ with a ring gauge of 42 to 44; named after the Earl of Lonsdale.


Maduro

The dark, rich brown-colored wrapper; has less aroma and more flavor than the Colorado Maduro; sometimes called Spanish Market Selection (SMS); literally “ripe” in Spanish.


Marble Head

A cigar that has a rounded head (see also Flat Head).


Marrying

The blending of traits and characteristics between cigars and/or their tobaccos; sometimes desirable, especially when aging a number of similar cigars; not desirable between a broad assortment of cigars with varying traits; also referred to as aging.


Mold

Maintain cigars in a too high humid environment and this is what you’ll get; different than plume or bloom, as it permeates the wrapper of the cigar, spotting the wrapper leaf; where the white bloom or plume still has a good tobacco bouquet, mold usually STINKS!


Mulling

A synonym for the aging or fermentation of tobacco or the aging of tobacco leaves to bring them to the desired color.


Naked

Cigars packed into the cigar box without cellophane sleeves; uncovered and unprotected; some cigars that are packed ‘naked’ have bands, some don’t.


Natural Head

Using an attached part of the wrapper leaf to form the head without having to cut off a separate piece to make the cap.


Olor

One of two major types of tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic: the native one, milder than the piloto cubano.


Oscuro

The darkest-colored, sun-grown wrapper; very dark brown, with strong flavor; less common in today’s market than Maduro, Colorado, or natural wrappers; sometimes referred to as “Maduro Maduro”.


Panatela

A classic shape, longer and thinner, 5” to 7½“ long with a 33 to 38 ring gauge; its popular heyday in the late 1960’s and 1970’s; alternate spelling: “panatella”.


Perfecto

A shaped cigar that is fatter in the middle, closed at its head and tapered or closed at its foot, with a length of 4½“ to 5 inches long with a ring gauge of 38; popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Petit Corona

The classic smaller cigar, about 4½“ long by 40 to 42-ring gauge (the preferred size by former President John F. Kennedy).


Pig Tail

Same as the Curly Head in which the tobacco covering the head is twisted at the tip.


Piloto Cubano

Cuban-seed Dominican-grown tobacco.


Priming

Synonym for harvesting the leaves from a tobacco plant; leaves are picked from the bottom of the plant first, then as the leaves are ready, the next level of leaves are picked until the top leaves are finally picked; tobacco leaves are “pinched” with the fingernail in a quick snap to remove each leaf.


Puro or Puros

Popular Spanish name for a cigar; literally “pure” in Spanish; also a cigar made from all locally grown tobacco; in Havana it means any high-grade export type cigar.


Pyramid

A shaped cigar that flares from a narrow ring gauge at the head to a wide gauge at the foot (in Spanish: piramide); commonly and incorrectly referred to as a ‘torpedo’ …which it is not.


Ring

The small label that is wrapped around the cigar and is its signature; also known as the band.


Ring Guage

The diameter of a cigar measured in 64th of an inch; for example, a ring gauge of 48 is 48/64 of an inch or ¾ of an inch.


Robusto

A short, stocky size that became very popular in the 1990’s; traditionally 5 to 5 ½ “ long with a ring gauge around 50.


Roller

A cigar-factory worker who manufactures the cigars; in Spanish: torcedor.


Seco

One of the three types of tobacco leaves used filler; comes from the middle of the plant; has mild to medium flavor and aroma and a steady burn; literally “dry” in Spanish (also see ligero and valado).


Shaded or Shading

A term used to describe the sorting out of cigars by color prior to placing into their box so that each cigar in the box is the same shade; some of the better premium cigars are placed in their box with the color shade increasing from left to right.


SMS

(Spanish Market Selection): A Maduro wrapper, traditionally the most popular in the Spanish market.


Stogie or Stogy

The American nickname for a cheap cigar that was made in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, the center of native-leaf production in the early nineteenth century; one popular myth has it that it was so named because drivers of Conestoga wagons crossing the plains typically smoked them; they were thought to resemble the spokes on a Conestoga wagon wheel; today, a somewhat derogatory term for a cheap cigar; originally invented about 1826 by a tobacco merchant named George W. Black in Washington, Pennsylvania.


Tobacco Beetle

The evil cigar bug called Lacioderma; the only insect that will eat tobacco; all tobacco has the Lacioderma larva; most established manufactures treat the tobacco and finished cigars to kill the larva; however, the larva will hatch if the cigars are kept in temperatures over 78 degrees (see also Freezing).


Torcedor

A cigar roller; literally “twister” or “one who twists” in Spanish.


Torpedo

A shaped cigar that is wide in the middle and narrow at each end.


Tuck

Another term for the foot of a cigar; the end you light.


Vista

A decorative label glued to the inside of a cigar box for display purposes.
 
Volado

One of the three basic types of tobacco leaves used for filler: comes from farthest down on the plant, is the mildest in taste and burns fastest; the other two are seco and ligero.


Wrapper

The outside or finishing leaf of a cigar (do not call cellophane ‘the wrapper’!).