Cigars are comprised of surprisingly few component parts. Unlike cigarettes, which usually have filters, two different kinds and colors of paper, and filler ingredients other than tobacco, cigars are all tobacco. What makes one cigar so different from another is the type of tobacco, where it’s grown, when the leaves are picked, how the picked leaves are cured and fermented, and how the finished leaves are cut and rolled. Because cigars are made in so many parts of the world, there is a diverse range of product, as you’d expect.
The outermost layer of cigars is called the wrapper. It is made from the widest part of the tobacco leaves, and it has a big impact on the cigar’s flavor and aroma. Cigar wrappers vary in color, and because the wrapper color is what is most visible, cigars are often described by the wrapper color. Here is a list, from lightest to darkest:
* Double Claro: very light color (sometimes with a green tinge); color comes from leaves that are picked while still immature and cured quickly.
* Claro: light-brown or yellowish-brown color, which is the result of tobacco plants grown predominantly in shade.
* Natural: light-brown or brown.
* Colorado Claro: medium-brown; most often associated with Cuban or Dominican Republic tobacco.
* Colorado (or Rosado): reddish-brown.
* Maduro: dark-brown; very popular color among serious connoisseurs of cigars.
* Oscuro: very dark-brown to oily black; typically exudes a pungent aroma and deeper flavor.
Cigars are composed mostly of whats known as filler tobacco. Cigars can have filler comprised of three basic types: Seco, Volado, and Ligero. Cigars with Seco filler are drier and have a lighter flavor. Volado filler produces a mid-range of flavor. Ligero is the darkest, oiliest filler, producing cigars with lots of bold flavors and aromatic smoke.
One reason to choose thicker cigars (Churchills or Double Coronas, for example) is that these cigars obviously have more room for filler tobacco. This gives the cigar maker the ability to add blends of Seco, Volado, and Ligero varieties. You will find that these bigger cigars generally produce more varied and complex flavor combinations.
Filler is either whats known as long or short. Long filler in cigars is comprised of whole tobacco leaves, whereas short filler contains a chopped mixture of leaves (sometimes just the leaves), stems, and other plant materials. In most cases, cigars with long filler are of superior quality.
Many low-end cigars only use wrappers and fillers. But the better quality cigars you'll find on the market use another component binders. Binders are an intermediate layer of more elastic tobacco leaves that help cigars hold the filler material together in a more cohesive manner. The best cigars have binders that also add another complementary flavor to enhance the overall smoking experience.