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Cigars 101: The parts of a cigar

All you need to know about the pieces that come together to form a great smoke.

The wrapper
This is the outer covering that holds the cigar together. It determines the overall flavour and character of a cigar. It might surprise you, but the wrapper is also made of tobacco; it comes from the lower leaves of the plant. A good cigar wrapper should be uniformly coloured and smooth in texture. The colour varies from light tan to dark brown. The flavour and amount of nicotine vary in each. While the dark shades have a touch of sweetness, the light shades come with a hint of dryness. There are four major fine quality leaves used in wrappers— Corojo, Maduro, Connecticut, Habano. Corojo is a spicy, peppery leaf with a more robust flavour, but a tough texture. Maduro is the darkest of this lot and has a slightly sweet undercurrent, which is why it’s nicknamed the ‘dessert smoke’. Connecticut has a mild woody, spicy flavour and low nicotine content. And Habano is high on nicotine, with a heavy, spicy flavour; so not ideal for a beginner.

The filler
This is the heart of the cigar and can be made from any part of the tobacco plant. It consists of small bunches of leaves wrapped up together. Leaves from different tobaccos are blended together to create a unique recipe that gives optimum taste. Often the leaves are from plants grown in different countries! The leaves on the top of the plant produce the stronger flavour, while those at the bottom have the best burning properties. So the filler is a mix of different parts of the plant blended together to create a filler that gives maximum flavour.

The binder
This is a leaf between the wrapper and filler. It is basically rolled around the filler to secure the smaller leaves together. The binder is usually taken from the thicker, bigger leaves at the bottom of the plant. The leaves might have a few blemishes on them. The binder’s purpose is to provide combustibility, ensuring that the cigar burns well. It also provides elasticity and durability during the rolling process, providing a smooth surface for the wrapper to be rolled on.

The cap
This is the rounded end of the cigar, where the tobacco is not exposed. It’s the part you will clip before smoking the cigar. When a cigar is made, a small piece of the wrapper is cut and applied onto the head to secure the end of the wrapper to stop it from unravelling. It also gives the cigar a more finished look. 

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