- Carolina Barriga
Cigar Industry Glossary
Updated: Jan 30
cigar-industry terms every aficionado should know.
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A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V W
A (size) Among the largest standard cigar sizes, an “A” is traditionally 9.25 inches by a 47-ring gauge, although the dimensions can vary.
A cigar-rolling method where the leaves are folded in a zig-zag shape just like the air instrument.
Active Humidification System
An electric or battery-powered device that expels and circulates humidity in a humidor. These are typically used in large humidors or cabinets.
The process of allowing the tobacco to rest under monitored conditions of light exposure and humidity.
The space in a cigar factory where rolled cigars are stored and allowed to rest for an extended period of time, allowing tobaccos to merge flavors.
A yellow cigar wrapper.
American Market Selection
A term once used to identify Candela (or green) wrapper leaves. Also referred to as AMS.
Colorless, highly irritating gas with a pungent, suffocating odor. Tobacco plants possess ammonia naturally. One of the purposes of fermentation is to get this ammonia off the tobacco leaves. When tobacco is not properly fermented, cigars can deliver a harsh, bitter taste derived from unleashed ammonia.
A term used in Cuba for a cigar band.
Tobacco grown in the northeastern coastal region of Brazil. Arapicara tobacco leaves are dark and oily. This tobacco can also be grown in Ecuador.
The scent of a lit cigar. Also called a “bouquet.”
The product of a lit cigar. Burnt tobacco. It is also the action of removing the burnt tip of tobacco from the cigar.
A unit of storage for cigar tobacco. Bales range in weight and size but commonly they’re 100 pounds or more.
Ornamental ring of paper around the top portion of a cigar that identifies the brand and in some cases other details like country of origin, the blend, or the collection name.
Banda refers to the binder, which is one of the main components of a cigar. The binder groups together the filler leaves.
A barber pole is a 2 colored-wrapped cigar. These cigars are rolled with 2 different color wrapper leaves which the cigar roller alternates, giving the appearance of a barber-pole pattern on the surface of the cigar.
A cigar shape, similar to a Torpedo, but shorter and with a more abrupt taper at the head.
A recipe of herbs, wine, rum, or liqueurs used to infuse tobacco.
Bicho means beetle in Spanish. The scientific name for a tobacco beetle is lasioderma serricorne. At just 2 to 3 millimeters in size, tobacco beetles can accomplish irreparable damage to cigars by leaving tiny, pin-sized holes in a cigar in the path of a trail.
One of the main parts of a hand-made cigar. The binder tobacco leaves hold together the filler leaves. Binders often start out as wrapper leaves but are classified with a lower grade due to cosmetic imperfections.
The process of releasing an unwanted pocket or bubble of air from the fuel tank on a butane lighter. Bleeding a lighter improves its performance and allows a full injection of fresh fuel to occupy the tank.
Blend refers to the mix of tobacco leaves that make a precise recipe that goes into a premium cigar. For most cigars, a blend consists of up to five leaves in the filler, one or two binder leaves, and the exterior wrapper leaf.
The process of smoking cigars without knowing any information about them. Before a cigar blind test, the bands are removed leaving the smokers with only their senses. This allows the smoker to rate or qualify a cigar by the real qualities of a cigar.
Small, white, and powdery dots that appear naturally on a cigar’s wrapper as they age. Bloom can simply be brushed off the surface of the cigar and is not harmful.
The blowout bin is the clearance section in a cigar shop, on and offline. Cigars are placed when they need to get out of the shop’s inventory for various reasons. These cigars are marked down to the lowest prices, making it very interesting for cigar bargain hunters.
Blue Mold Airborne fungus that attacks tobacco plants and that can ruin an entire tobacco field in days. Some hybrid tobacco varieties were created expressly to be less susceptible to blue mold. The scientific name for blue mold is Peronospara Tabacina.
Bofeton A layer of paper or film (typically featuring the cigar brand’s logo) that is placed over the cigars in a protective manner inside a box.
Boite Nature The formally styled cedar box in which many premium cigars are packaged. An authentic Boite Nature box consists of two hinges, a clasp, interlocking joints, and four lifted collars that form an inner lip and rise above the lower walls of the box. Many cigar boxes are made of cedar, but may not exhibit the full course of Boite Nature appointments.
Bonao An agricultural region in the Dominican Republic infamous for growing Candela wrappers.
Bonche The term in Spanish for “bunch”. The bonche is the combination of filler and binder leaves rolled together in a cylindrical shape.
Boncheros Spanish for “bunchers,” boncheros are the cigar rollers in a factory who specialize in assembling the binder and filler leaves (or a bunch) in a cigar.
A technique of cigar-making where the roller layers the filler leaves on top of one another, like the pages in a book, and then rolls them up in a scroll.
The bouquet refers to the qualities of a cigar we perceive with our olfactory sense. A bouquet is the aroma of a cigar, lit or unlit. It is also called a cigar’s room note.
A form of traditional cigar packaging. Spanish cedar is the most common material, however, cigar boxes today come in less noble woods and materials like cardboard, tin, and plastic.
The term refers to aging cigars inside the box in which they are packaged. Cigars can be aged for many years and when aged in the original box, they can exhibit distinctively uniform qualities of taste and aroma.
Box codes are predominantly used to identify the age of Cuban cigars according to a code found on the bottom of each box. Box codes are uncommon outside of Cuba.
Box-pressed cigars are flat, somewhat squared-shaped as a result of being tightly packed into a box with a flat top. One box pressing technique is trunk pressing which refers to cigars that are pressed in the most extreme manner using wooden slats between the cigars. Trunk-pressed cigars have very sharp, squared-off edges.
A clasp that fastens the top of a cigar box lid to the bottom.
Brother Of The Leaf
Also shortened to BOTL, Brother of the Leaf is a popular contemporary term used to identify a fellow cigar lover. #BOTL is one of the most used hashtags amongst the cigar community on social networks.
Buckeye Small cigar factories in the United States. The term originated from the widespread use (in domestic factories) of tobacco grown in Ohio, the Buckeye State prior to the Cuban revolution.
Bulk Large piles of tobacco assembled for fermentation. Bulks consist of tobacco leaves that have been arranged in bunches, called hands.
Bullet Cutter A type of punch cutter that opens the cap with a circular blade. Bullet cutters are available in a variety of ring gauge sizes and typically create a more constricted draw while keeping the cap of the cigar intact.
Bull’s Eye Piercer A type of punch cutter used to open the head or cap of a cigar with a circular blade reminiscent of the bull’s eye on a target.
Bunch Bunch refers to the combination of binder and filler leaves used in cigar.
Buncher A buncher is a worker at the cigar factory who specializes in assembling the binder and filler leaves of cigars. The task of a buncher is distinct from the work done by a cigar roller. In smaller factories, a single worker performs both the bunching and the rolling.
Bunching Machine Powered by hand, a bunching machine is constructed with a leather pad, a metal handle, and guides that aid in the assembly of the bunch. Also called Liebermans or Temscos, bunching machines are common in the Dominican Republic, but are rare in other Central American nations and are not utilized in Cuba.
Bundle Cellophane overwrap that contains a gro25 or 50 cigars, traditionally without bands. Bundles are usually less expensive than boxed cigars.
A burro is a large pile of tobacco assembled for fermentation following the curing process.
A clean-burning, odorless fuel used in cigar lighters, especially torch models. Butane is less likely to produce a residual aftertaste or negatively impact the flavor of a premium cigar making it the most used lighting fluid amongst cigar aficionados.
A style of packaging cigars in quantities of 25 or 50, bound with a ribbon on the inside of the box. Cabinet Selection packaging allows for more air between the individual cigars which can facilitate aging.
An industry state-of-the-art, sealed tobacco curing barn with a duct system that creates consistent and predictable temperatures and humidity. The calfrisa ensures a better tobacco curing result than using ventilators and traditional heating methods.
A nation in West Africa well-known for producing a sought-after wrapper varietal. Cameroon is a term also used to classify tobacco grown in the country’s neighboring Central African Republic.
The term “candela” refers to a green wrapper. produced by harvesting tobacco leaves before the plant has fully matured and dry them quickly to lock in the plant’s natural chlorophyll content. Candela wrappers are created by fire-curing tobacco after it’s been harvested and then re-humidifying the leaves..
Seedbeds used to plant seedlings in trays inside greenhouses. These Canteros are planted as insurance against unpredictable damaging weather or other natural setbacks in the growing cycle.
We refer to the cap as the piece of tobacco that covers the head of the cigar and secures the wrapper leaf. There are different varieties of caps, like the Cuban-style, triple cap, or pigtail. The cap needs to be cut off from the cigar before lighting it.
The wrapper leaf on a cigar.
Capote Another term for the binder in a cigar. The binder, or capote, is one of the three main parts of the anatomy of a cigar. The binder holds the filler leaves together.
Spanish for charcoal, carbon is used to raise the temperature in tobacco-curing barns when cold weather. Propane heaters are more common for this purpose today.
A plant pigment found in may plant structures. As natural-occurring chlorophyll in tobacco breaks down, it is replaced by carotene.
Casa De Tabaco
Another name for a curing barn.
Case The process of moisturize tobacco leaves to be manageable. Casing can be accomplished through different techniques like dipping the tobacco directly in water, exposing the leaves to a continual mist, or storing the tobacco in rooms with a very high humidity level.
Cat’s Eye Cutter Another name for a V-cutter or a wedge cutter. Similar to a bullet cut, a cat’s eye cut delivers a more concentrated draw.
Cedar Type of wood known for its spicy aroma and natural insect-repelling capabilities. In the cigar industry, cedar is used to make most cigar boxes and humidors, Spanish cedar in particular. Spanish cedar positively reacts with moisture and facilitates the aging of cigars after they are packaged. Cedar is also a tasting note in many premium cigars.
Cedar Spill The cedar spill is a long, thin strip that cigar smokers traditionally light up with a match. Then, the burning cedar spill is used to light a cigar. This lighting method ensures zero impurities transfer to the cigar.
The thin, clear protective sleeves that wrap cigars individually. Cellophane provides a safeguard throughout the packaging and transport process of premium cigars and inhibits the loss of humidity. Cellophane is derived from natural sources such as wood, while plastic wraps are made from oil.
Trimming tool used by cigar rollers. The chaveta consists on a flat piece of steel with a curved end.
Small cigar factory or shop.
Chop Short-filler tobacco, or chopped-up filler used in inexpensive machine-made cigars and industrial cigarettes.
Named after the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, Churchill is a parejo cigar shape that measures in average 7 inches by a 47 ring gauge.
Cibao Valley Dominican Republic’s region where most of the country’s tobacco is farmed.
Cigar Association of America
America’s organization of importers, distributors, and manufacturers of cigars.
A public or private space where cigar smoking is permitted.
Beginning in the early 1990s and lasting the whole century, the cigar boom is the period in time where the premium cigar industry grew the most. Demand for premium cigars quadrupled from 100 million to over 400 million during this time.
Cigar Box Tool
A simple tool used to cut or “break” open cigar box seals. The tool is designed to remove the nail that seals a traditional flat-top box and to pound the nail back in if desired.
Accessory designed to protect cigars during travel or transport. Cigar cases range in size and function.
Room or area where cigar smoking is permitted. Cigar lounges are primarily found inside premium cigar retail shops, luxury hotels and country clubs.
Cigar Rights of America
An organization that promotes and protects the rights of premium cigar lovers.
The owner of a cigar factory or brand. Cigar-maker can also refer to a cigar roller.
Smaller machine-made cigars usually packaged in quantities of ten or twenty. Cigarillos are short, thin, and burn quickly. They are often made from dry-cured, short-filler tobaccos.
Cigarro Spanish for Cigar
A cigar wrapper leaf that is pale in color from a light, faded green hue to a light tan.
A cigar manufactured in the United States prior to the Cuban Embargo. Clear Havanas were rolled with Cuban tobacco.
A brand going out of business or a blend that has been discontinued and will no longer be made. When a company marks a cigar brand as a closeout, they often want to remove it from the market as quickly as possible.
An individual box for a single very special cigar.
Cold draw or cold taste is the gesture of smoking a cigar before lighting it to get a preview of its flavors.
Wooden slats that line the interior edges of a cigar box.
The process to ensure each box contains cigars that are similar in color.
Color classification of wrapper leaves. Colorado wrappers are brown or reddish-brown in color.
Subjective way to observe the depth and breadth of the aromas that we perceive in the lit cigar.
Condega is one of the three key tobacco-growing regions in Nicaragua. It is known for producing tobaccos that are medium-bodied and rich. The other two regions are Esteli and Jalapa.
Tobacco type. Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers are grown in the Connecticut River Valley under direct sunlight and are almost always processed as Maduro wrappers.
Connecticut Habano A Cuban seed that is grown as a wrapper in the Connecticut River Valley. It is far less common than Connecticut Shade or Connecticut Broadleaf. It is known for its rich, leathery taste.
Connecticut River Valley
Tobacco-growing region in the United States of America.
Connecticut Shade Tobacco grown in the Connecticut River Valley used for wrapper leaves. Connecticut Shade is a specific type of wrapper grown under the shade os structures conceived over the plantations. Connecticut Shade tobacco is prized for its silky, golden blond color and creamy rich flavor.
Corojo Introduced in the 30’s, corojo is the most prominent variety of Cuban-seed tobacco grown today throughout South and Central America.
The Corona is one of the most common classic cigar sizes and measures typically 5 5/8 inches by a 42 ring gauge,
Corona Gorda is a cigar shape. The term means “fat” Corona. Corona Gordas are often crafted with a ring gauge over 50 and approximates traditional Toros in size.
Counterfeit Cigars (also called fake cigars)
Another name for the wrapper leaf on a cigar.
CSWC Cigar Smoking World Competition
Tobaccos grown outside of Cuba with seed varietals that originated in Cuba.
Cuban Trade Embargo
Since the 1960s, the United States has imposed an embargo against Cuba. The embargo, known among Cubans as “el bloqueo” or “the blockade,” consists of economic sanctions against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce for all people and companies under US jurisdiction.
The outer lid or top of a cigar box.
Cuje In a curing barn, tobacco hangs from a wooden pole called a cuje. Shorter versions called cuje cortos measure roughly six feet, while longer ones, cuje largos, stretch to twelve feet.
Spanish for “snake”, culebra is the term that refers to an unusual cigar shape consisting of three Panetelas that are braided together and meant to be smoked individually.
The process of gradually removing moisture from tobacco leaves after harvest. Curing takes place in special curing barns where heat is introduced and controlled through a variety of traditional and more contemporary techniques. Premium tobaccos are generally cured for around 45 days.
Curing Barns Structures where tobacco is stored after harvest and cured for roughly 45 days.
A tool used to clip off the cap on the head of a cigar before smoking it.The three most common cutters are a straight cutter or guillotine, a punch cutter or bullet, and a V-cutter also caled cat’s eye.
Desflorado Method of growing tobacco where the plant has been “deflowered.” By removing the flowers, seeds, and in some cases the upper portion of the plant, its nutrients are transferred directly to the leaves which makes them stronger and sweeter. The process is also referred to as “topping.”
Despalillo Spanish term for “destemming” tobacco. In order to roll tobacco leaves into cigars, the stems must be removed. The process is done by hand or by machine. For binder and wrapper leaves, the entire stem is removed, but for filler leaves, only the bottom two-thirds of the stem are stripped.
The process of removing the stems from tobacco leaves. It is also called “stemming.” Because the stems on tobacco leaves are thick, they need to be stripped in order to roll the leaves into cigars. For binder and wrapper leaves, the entire stem is removed. For filler leaves, only the bottom two-thirds of the stem are stripped.
Diadema A cigar shape with a tapered head and a closed foot that is technically a Figurado, but with particular dimensions. A Diadema length is usually 8 inches long.
The process of dipping the head of a cigar in a dark spirit like bourbon whiskey or rhum.
One of the primary producers of premium cigars in the world. Several prominent brands are made in the Dominican Republic, including Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Montecristo, Chateau Diadem, Rocky Patel just to mention a few..
Another term for Candela, a green-colored wrapper leaf known for its mild, grassy flavor. Double Claro or Candela wrappers are created by curing tobacco leaves with heat before they are fully mature, a process that locks in the plant’s natural chlorophyll content.
Cigar size that in average measures 7.5 inches with a ring gauge between 49 and 52.
The process of pulling air through the cigar. The draw on a cigar is a measure of its construction. The style of cut can also affect the draw by making it more concentrated or looser.
Draw Test Machine A quality control device that pulls air through a cigar to ensure it is not rolled too tight or too loose. Draw testing machines were introduced in the 90s and are now present throughout the premium cigar industry.
Ecuador South American country known for growing a number of wrapper leaves. The natural cloud cover and nutrient-rich volcanic soils produce an unrivaled wrapper leaf. The chief tobacco-growing region in Ecuador is just outside of Guayaquil in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
Empilonar The process of assembling a pilón or bulk of tobacco for fermentation.
Encallado Shading tobacco crops from direct sunlight. Unlike traditional shade-growing where cheesecloths or nylon sheets are erected over the entire crop, encallado involves erecting shade barriers only on the sides of the tobaccos plants. The tobacco is protected from wind but is shaded from natural light only when the sun is lower in the sky.
English Market Selection
Another term for Natural wrappers, or those that are light in color – not Maduro and not Candela. The term is also abbreviated as EMS, but most simply refer to English Market Selection cigars as Natural today.
Strings used to bind the leaves together during the curing process are called sartas.
Cigar rolling method where tobacco leaves are rolled into tube shapes.
Escaparates Cabinets at a cigar factory where freshly rolled cigars are cooled.
Spanish for “chosen,” which is a reference to color sorting. Among the last steps in process of making cigars, special workers at the factory color sort the finished cigars to ensure every box exhibits a uniform color.
The town in Nicaragua around which much of the nation’s cigar production is situated.
The front of a cigar, or the side that shows the cigar’s band. Color sorters at a cigar factory determine which side of a cigar looks the most attractive and they arrange them face up in trays prior to the band going on.
Federal Excise Tax
Cigars imported into the U.S. are subject to federal excise taxes. Once a modest tax (under 5 cents per cigar), the passage of the State Children’s Health Care Initiative Program (SCHIP) in the spring of 2009 caused the federal excise tax to erupt to 40.26 cents per cigar. The cost of federal excise tax is paid by the consumer.
Fermentation Crucial step in cigar manufacturing. Following the harvest and curing, tobacco must undergo fermentation. This process can take several months. To ferment tobacco, large bulks, or pilones, of tobacco leaves are assembled. Natural pressure from the weight of the tobacco combines with heat to release ammonia and other impurities from the tobacco.
A classification of cigar shapes, such as Torpedos, Belicosos, Pyramids, and Perfectos, which are not considered traditional Parejos like Robustos, Toros, Churchills, and Coronas.
Another word for the decorative trim on a cigar box.
Filler is a bundle of hand-folded tobacco leaves with airway vents down the center for smoke to travel up.
Finish The final tasting notes or the residual taste a cigar delivers to the palate. A cigar’s complexity and flavor profile culminate in its finish.
Adjective. A cigar can be considered firm if its draw is too tight or it is rolled too densely.
Instead of a cap the extent of the wrapper leaf is present in a twisted-off manner called a flag tip. The more common name for a flag tip is a pigtail or a curly head.
Cigars can be wrapped in foil. Often it serves to draw consumers’ attention to a product on a store shelf, however, foil can also encapsulate a cigar’s natural flavor as it ages. In some cases, the entire cigar is wrapped, but it’s more common to see only a portion or half of the cigar wrapped in foil.
The foot is the end of the cigar you light.
The name of a cigar’s exact size or shape is called the front mark because it is commonly displayed on the front of the box.
An old form of cigar packaging allso called an Amatista jar. It consisted in heavy glass jars containing 25 or 50 cigars.
As aluminum tubes, glass tubes are used to pack cigars individually.
Spanish for fat, Gorda or Gordo makes reference to thicker cigar shapes.
Size of Cuban cigars measures 5.5 inches by a 50-ring gauge.
A long cigar shape, typically 9.25 inches by a 47 ring gauge.
A long version of the Panetela shape, often longer than 7 inches with a 38-ring gauge.
A tasteless, odorless substance used to stick the head of the wrapper leaf around the bunch in a handmade cigar.
Another term for a Cuban cigar that makes reference to Cuba’s capital city “La Habana”.
50 cigars in a bundle are a half wheel. They are traditionally tied with a ribbon.
Group of roughly 30 or 40 tobacco leaves tied together in the curing process. Several hands are assembled together in a bulk, or pilón, during fermentation.
A hand-rolled cigar is a cigar made entirely by hand.
The end of the cigar that goes in your mouth when smoking.
A cigar holder is an accessory designed to hold the cigar once its lighted. You can rest your cigar on a cigar holder if needing to do something with your hands etc.
Central american Country and the fourth largest cigar-producing nation behind Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
When a cigar has been rolled too loosely or is under-filled burn hot.
Humidification Element The humidification element is the humidity source inside a humidor. Generally, this reservoir consists of a natural foam inside a plastic or metal container with vented slots for the humidity to escape. They are often replenished with distilled water or propylene glycol solution.
A box or room especially designed to keep cigars in the perfect humidity level typically 65-70% RH (relative humidity).
When cigar experts talk about hybrids, the term makes reference to seeds that have been genetically modified to avoid commun diseases like blue mold and others.
A device to measure the amount of water vapor in a confined space. These devices are always present in humidors and allow smokers to control the quality of the environment of their cigar collection.
Inhale Drawing the smoke into the lungs or diaphragm. The practice is common among cigarette smokers, but should never be attempted with cigars.
International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association
Formerly called the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America (RTDA), the IPCPR is a trade organization of retail tobacco dealers, or cigar shops, throughout the United States. During its annual trade show, premium cigar manufacturers release new brands and meet with their retailers.
Another term for Cuba. It stands for the Island South of Miami.
Cigars are measured in the imperial system. Their length is always found marked in inches.
Inter Tabac World's Largest Trade Fair for Tobacco Products and Smoking Accessories.