50 Cigar Terms To Know

We’ve all been there, we get into some new hobby, interest or topic and someone will start talking away using all kinds of terms you don’t know.  One of the goals I have for this blog is to educate, and likely learn some new stuff myself.  Personally I’ve been smoking cigars semi-regularly for almost 10 years now and there’s still tons of information I’m learning, including some of the terms on this list! So without further ado, here’s 50 terms that will help you learn more about cigars, and be able to talk to more experienced smokers without sounding like a total novice:

AgingLike a good whisky, cigars are aged as well.  The loose tobacco leaves are aged before rolling, and the fully formed cigars can also be aged as well.  The conditions of aging are closely monitored to remove impurities from the tobacco.
AromaThis is the scent a lit cigar gives off, sometimes also referred to as a “bouquet”
AshThis is the burned gray flakes left after the cigar is lit, a cigar that holds a long ash is referred to as being constructed well.  Do not tap the ash off like you would a cigarette, as the ash protects the flame of the cigar and will keep the cigar from needing to be re-lit.  Let the ash stay on as long as possible and let it fall off on it’s own. 
AshingThis is another term for knocking the ash of the end of a lit cigar
BandA colorful and often paper ring that is wrapped around the cigar that identifies the brand and/or product name of the cigar.  Usually placed near the head of the cigar, some cigars come with multiple bands.
BinderBinder leaves are used between the filler and wrapper of a cigar to hold the filler together.  Binder leaves are grown as wrapper leagues but have a lower aesthetic grade that prevent them from being used as the outside wrapper.
BlendThe complete recipe of tobaccos that go into a 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. For many cigar-makers, the precise ingredients in a given blend are never revealed beyond the general regions where the tobaccos originate. A single blend can consist of tobaccos from numerous farms and tobacco-growing regions.
CanoeingWhen one part of the cigar burns faster than the other.  If not fixed, this will result in one side burning musch faster, making the cigar look like a burned out canoe.  If there was an issue in lighting the cigar, this usually can be fixed by re-lighting the slower burning part.  If that doesn’t fix it then there is something wrong with how the cigar was constructed and it will need to be put out.
CapThe cap covers the head of the cigar to secure the end of the wrapper leaf. There are many different types of caps, like the Cuban-style, triple cap, or flag cap. The cap has to be cut or punched before you can smoke a cigar.
CedarThis type of wood is used to make humidors, cigar matches and cigar boxes.  Specifically Spanish cedar is the preferred type of wood to use.  Some cigars also will come with cedar wraps that will need to be removed before lighting.
CellophaneA clear thin plastic that most companies use to protect their cigars during transportation and display.  The pores of the plastic allow humidity to pass through, so the cellophane wrappers do not need to be removed for proper humidification.
CigarilloA smaller size of cigar, usually around the size of a cigarette,  Mostly machine made, they usually come in boxes of 10-20.
Cold DrawThe act of taking a draw and pulling air through the cigar after the cigar has been cut. This will give you a preview of the flavors before lighting.  Also called a cold taste or dry draw.
CubaAny cigars made in the country of Cuba are not sellable in the United States.  The Cuban Government owns the cigar companies of that island, and the US/Dominican Owned Companies with the same names (Cohiba, Montecristo, etc.) are not related in any way to the Cuban companies. Because of the US Embargo there are no laws pertaining to trade marks as the Cuban products cannot legally be sold there, so a Cohiba Cigar can be two very different products if it’s from the Cuban company, or the US Company.
CutterA tool used to make a cut in the cap of a cigar to allow the user to draw.  Different types of cuts are straight cuts, v-cuts, punch cuts and piercings.
DippingThe act of dipping the cap of a cigar into your drink of choice.  This will infuse some of the flavors of your drink into the cigar.  This act is often disapproved by a number of ‘purists’
DrawThe process of pulling air through the cigar, or the actual pull itself. 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 (with a bullet cut or a V-cut), or looser and more open (with a straight cut).
FaceThis is the front of the cigar, usually the part where the front of the band sits.  Sorters in the factories of machine made cigars arrange the cigars so the most appealing side of the cigar is the face before labeled.
FillerThe interior-most leaves in a cigar. The filler leaves are encompassed by the binder leaves. Premium handmade cigars often contain two and five different filler leaves. There are two types of filler, long filler and short filler
FinishThe residual flavors left on your palette while smoking a cigar.  A strong or long finish means the flavors last for a long time, while a short or weak finish means the flavors dissipate quickly.
FirmA cigar can be considered firm if its draw is too tight or it is rolled too densely.
Foot The end of the cigar that you light
HeadThe end of the cigar that goes in your mouth when smoking.  The head is usually capped, meaning you need to cut it to be able to draw
HumidificationUsed to keep cigars fresh.  You must keep cigars humidity somewhere around 60-70% Relative Humidity.  Anything lower and the cigars will dry out, anything higher and the cigars can cause mold, an inconsistent burn, or cause the wrapper to split
HumidorA sealable storage container for cigars.  This can be anything from a cheap plastic storage container to a high end Spanish Cedar wooden box.  The box needs to have a tight seal so you can control the humidity inside to keep the cigars fresh. This term can also be used for an entire room in a cigar shop that is temperature and humidity controlled for storing cigars.
HygrometerAn instrument for measuring the humidity of the air, usually found in a humidor to make sure the humidity does not drop below 60 or above 70.
InhaleDrawing the smoke into your lungs or diaphragm. The practice is common among cigarette smokers, but should never be attempted with cigars.
LanceA cigar cutter with a sharp needle-like point that penetrates the cap of a cigar to create airflow, also known as a piercer.
LighterUsed to light the foot of a cigar. Torch lighters are most commonly used as they are strong enough to light the entire cigar, are windproof and the butane fuel they use is odorless and tasteless and will not affect the flavors of the cigar.  Zippo and Bic style lighters can also be used but are more difficult to light an entire cigar and their fuels can sometimes taint the flavors of the cigar.
Long FillerWhole tobacco leaves that run the length of a cigar. Most premium, handmade cigars use nothing but long-filler. Also known as tripa in Spanish. Some cigars, known as mixed-fill cigars or Cuban sandwiches, use a blend of short and long filler tobacco
LooseA cigar that is under-filled, meaning too much air passes through it on the draw. This will be noticeable as the cigar will burn hot and too fast.
MoldA blue or green fungus that can develop on cigars when they are stored at temperatures or humidity that are too high. Cigars infected with mold should be discarded and never smoked.
OilDesirable wrapper leaves often exhibit an oily quality. It’s also a sign of adequate humidification. Darker wrappers, like Maduro and Oscuro leaves, are more prone to display an oily quality than lighter Connecticut Shade wrappers.
PluggedWhen the draw of a cigar is too difficult, it is considered plug.  This is usually a sign of manufacturing issue, or the cigar was rolled too tight.  A lance can be used to pierce the cigar to try to correct the issue.
PlumeAlso called bloom, is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the cigar aging process. Oils that exude from the tobacco in a finished cigar will appear as a fine white powder and can be brushed off without leaving a mark. Not to be confused with mold, which has color to it and stains the wrapper.
Punch CutterA cigar cutter with a circular blade designed to remove a precise section of the cap on a traditional caped cigar. This cutter should be used with a gradual or careful pressure in a twisting motion so as not to crack the head or wrapper leaf on a cigar.  Also called a Bullet Cutter
PurgingBlowing out from the head of the cigar out through the foot to eliminate the buildup of unwanted flavors.
Retrohale The act of exhaling a bit of cigar smoke through your nose after a puff, which is a way to judge the power of a smoke and get more notes on the cigar’s flavor.
RingThe diameter of a cigar is measured in ring gauge, or millimeters, the same as measuring a finger for a ring.
RollingHow a cigar is made. Three common processes exist: booking, the accordion method, and entubado (or entubar). Booking is layering the tobacco leaves like the pages in a book. In the accordion method the leaves are folded in a zigzag pattern like the bellows of an accordion. And with entubado, each leaf of filler tobacco is rolled up like a scroll or tube before it is assembled into the binder.
ShapeThere are 6 standard cigar shapes: Parejo, Chisel, Torpedo, Presidente, Perfecto and Pyramid.  There are many more variants, but most cigars are on the 6 standard shapes.  The shape of a cigar only really affects the smoking time and intensity of flavors, but not much else.
Short FillerChopped up scraps of tobacco leaf that tend to burn quicker and hotter than long filler. Some cigars, known as mixed-fill cigars or Cuban sandwiches, use a blend of short and long filler tobacco
ShoulderThe slightly curved or rounded area of a cigar where the cap meets the body. If you cut into or below the shoulder, the cigar will begin to unravel.
Smoking TimeThe duration of time a cigar will burn for. Generally, a 5 x 50 Robusto burns for around 30 minutes, while a 7.5 x 52 Double Corona can burn for over an hour. Thinner cigars burn hotter and faster than thicker cigars.
Straight CutThe most common type of cutter. Most are constructed with a pair of stainless steel blades housed in a sturdy chassis. For most straight cutters, the blades open to reveal an aperture where the head of your cigar is placed. Squeeze the blades together and the cap comes off.  Also called guillotine cutters.
Tobacco BeetleHighly destructive, miniscule beetles that can wreak havoc in a single cigar or an entire humidor. They make tiny pin holes in a cigar’s wrapper leaf, often forming a trail. Tiny, dusty crumbs of loose tobacco will shake out of the cigar into the cellophane wrapper or your humidor.  Most manufacturers take extreme precautions to prevent this, but occasional ones can slip through.  They thrive in high heat (over 70 degrees) and high humidity (over 70% RH). so be sure to check your humidor regularly, especially when putting in new cigars.
ToothThe grain pattern characteristic of less smooth wrapper leaf, such as leaf from Cameroon. The tooth appears as tiny, fine bumps, which are pockets of oils. Tobacco with tooth is called a toothy wrapper.
TuckA cigar Tuck Cutter is used to cut finished ends or hand rolled ends of Cigars to the wanted length
V-CutterA cigar cutter that carves a V-shape into the head of the cigar. A V-cutter is designed to create a draw that pulls smoke from the upper portion of the cigar and the lower portion of the cigar and concentrate each stream directly on your palate. A V-cutter is also called a wedge-cutter or a cat’s eye.
Wood MatchThe preferred or classic way to light a cigar.   Preferably a long cedar match.
Wrapper – The outermost part of the cigar.  The wrapper is the highest quality and most pristine tobacco leaf in a premium cigar. Ideally, the wrapper leaf is free of any cosmetic imperfections, veins, or tears. The wrapper is also the most expensive leaf in a cigar.

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