Glossary of Cigar Terminology

By Gary Manelski

There are many terms or words used to describe various aspects of cigars or the cigar industry. Here are a few of the more common terms that you may hear in a cigar shop, or read in a cigar publication.


Band-- A ring of paper wrapped around the body of a cigar near the head, usually indicating the name of the brand.

Belicoso-- A short pyramid-shaped cigar with a tapered head.

Binder--A type of tobacco leaf used to hold together a bunch of filler leaves.

Blend-- A mixture of different types of tobacco in a cigar.

Box-pressed--The slightly square shape given to some cigars by packing them tightly in a box.

Bunch-- A blend of several different types of filler tobacco leaves that are held together by a binder leaf.

Bundles--Inexpensive cigars sold in cellophane packages instead of boxes.

Candela--A naturally green cigar wrapper leaf.

Cap-- A circular piece of wrapper leaf placed on the head of a cigar to prevent the wrapper from unraveling.

Chaveta--A semi-circular shaped knife used for cutting tobacco leaves during the rolling process.

Churchill--A long cigar size (7 inches) named after Sir Winston Churchill.

Cigarillos--Small machine-made cigars.

Claro-- A natural light brown cigar wrapper leaf.

Colorado--An oily cigar wrapper leaf having a brownish-red color.

Corojo--A spicy-smooth cigar wrapper leaf originally grown in Cuba having limited availability.

Corona--A common size for a cigar, about 5 inches long and not too thick.

Cuban Seed--Tobacco grown in non-Cuban countries with seeds (or a later generation thereof) that came from Cuba.

Draw--The amount of air and smoke that comes through a lit cigar when puffed.

Entubar--A cigar rolling method where each individual filler leaf is rolled into itself before being bunched.

Escaparate--A display or cooling storage cabinet in which cigars are kept after they have been rolled.

Figurado--A cigar having a shape other than a cylinder, such as a torpedo or pyramid.

Filler--Tobacco leaves used in the body of the cigar, bound by a binder leaf then rolled inside a wrapper leaf.

Finish--The taste that lingers on your palate after a puffing on a cigar.

Foot--The open end of a cigar that you light, as opposed to the closed head end which goes into your mouth after cutting.

Handmade--A cigar made entirely by hand with high-quality wrapper and long filler tobaccos.

Hand Rolled– A cigar made partially by hand, where the wrapper is rolled by hand over the binder and filler tobaccos that were bunched by machines.

Head--The closed end of a cigar that you put in your mouth, which must be cut or pierced before lighting.

Humidor--A room or a box designed to store and age cigars at humidity levels near 70%.

Hygrometer--A device that measures the humidity or percentage of moisture in the air inside of a cigar humidor.

Ligero--The tobacco leaves at the top of the tobacco plant which receive the most sun, making them stronger and higher in nicotine than the lower leaves.

Long Filler--Filler tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar, as opposed to leftover pieces of tobacco used in machine-made cigars.

Lonsdale--The name for a size of a somewhat long (6½") cigar that is not too wide.

Machine-made--Cigars made entirely by machine, using reconstituted wrappers and binders, and short/mixed filler instead of long filler.

Maduro--A ripe and somewhat sweet type of wrapper leaf that is dark brown in color.

Oscuro--A very dark brown and almost black shade of wrapper.

Panetela--Name for a long and thin cigar size.

Parejo--A normal cylindrical shaped cigar, as opposed to a figurado having a comparatively unusual shape.

Perfecto--A figurado cigar shape that is tapered and sometimes closed at both ends, and perhaps even having a bulge in the middle.

Plug-- A blockage inside of a cigar that prevents it from drawing properly.

Plume (aka Bloom)-- A fine white powder formed from the oils of a cigar after being aged. Not the same thing as mold, which is blue in color and stains the wrapper.

Pre-embargo Cigar-- A legal Cuban cigar imported into the United States before President Kennedy signed the trade embargo against Cuba in 1962.

Puro-- A cigar made with tobaccos from a single country.

Pyramid--The shape for a cigar that is tapered from a wide open foot to a closed pointed head.

Ring Gauge--The diameter of a cigar, based on 64ths of an inch. For example, a cigar with a 50 ring gauge has a diameter that measures 50/64".

Robusto--The name for a cigar size that is about 5 inches long with a 50 ring gauge.

Seco--The tobacco leaves in the middle of the tobacco plant, which are larger but receive less sun than the ligero leaves, and therefore, are less potent.

Shade-grown--Wrapper leaves that are grown under a tent to produce natural wrappers that are smoother and lighter in color.

Shoulder--The part of a cigar just below the head where the cap is attached to the body.

Short Filler-- Chopped up scraps of tobacco leaves used in machine-made cigars.

Sun-grown--Tobacco grown in direct sunlight, which creates a thicker leaf with thicker veins.

Torcedores--Spanish term for cigar rollers.

Torpedo--A large figurado cigar shape where the head is closed to a point.

Vegetable Gum-- A natural vegetable glue used to secure a cap to the head of a parejo shaped cigar, or to secure the wrapper at the head of a figurado.

Vintage--As with fine wine, a cigar company may declare the tobacco harvested during an exceptionally good year as being vintage.

Vitola--A term that refers to both a cigar's shape and size.

Wrapper--The outer tobacco leaf of a cigar which is wrapped around the bunched filler and binder. The wrapper is the most expensive tobacco leaf ofa cigar and usually accounts for more than half of a cigar's flavor.

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