Know your cigars - the 4 main parts

EDGAR's resident cigar expert is back to talk you through the basics of how a cigar is put together.

March 17, 2015

There is a great art and tradition to growing, blending, and rolling tobacco. Only natural tobacco goes into the making of cigars, meaning it has gained its flavour from the soil, sun, blending and ageing process.

With the numerous factors in making a cigar to consider, the options result in a variety of styles and characteristics in flavour and body – as much as any food or spirit does. One of the factors is a cigar’s ring gauge – read: the diameter, measured in units 1/64th of an inch – which can contribute to the blend. 

A smaller ring gauge can intensify the flavour and gives a higher ratio of wrapper to filler. A larger ring gauge gives the filler an opportunity to have a stronger role, with more surface area for the draw.

Maybe it's like becoming one with the cigar. You lose yourself in it; everything fades away: your worries, your problems, your thoughts. They fade into the smoke, and the cigar and you are at peace - Raul Julia

Many cigars are blended and rolled with the end result of the ring gauge in mind, making the size of the cigar an important factor in the uniqueness of the blend. That said, size does not determine the strength of a cigar, and nor does colour. Here's a breakdown of the four main parts that make up a cigar:

The wrapper is the outer shell of the cigar. This is the tobacco leaf you see as you hold the stick, and the outer leaf you will have in your mouth as you smoke. This leaf is generally appealing to the eye, and is cared for considerably to ensure its best presentation. No one's going to smoke a cigar that doesn't look good. How a cigar is made.

The filler is the tobacco that makes up the meat of the cigar. The filler can consist of tobacco from one or many regions and can be either 'short' or 'long'. Finer, hand-made quality cigars will consist of long filler – meaning leaves that are long or a similar size to the length of the cigar.

Short filler refers to filler that is broken, chopped up, and short in length. Short filler generally gives an uneven inconsistent burn and creates a different flavor of the blend. Since the leaves are not fully intact, short filler is less expensive.

The binder is what wraps the filler of the cigar, and is found between the wrapper and the filler. The binder’s purpose is to keep the filler in place, and since it is not seen it does not have to be a flawless leaf, unlike the wrapper. How a cigar is made. The binder is rolled with the filler creating your cigar shape. It is then rolled with the wrapper and finished with a single or triple cap. The binder also serves in maintaining a proper burn as you smoke your cigar, and brings together the wrapper and filler tobaccos.

The cap is what keeps everything in place - it is the reason your cigar does not unravel as you smoke. Some cigars have a single cap, others have a triple cap (a Cuban tradition). A “pigtail” is another option you will see as well, where tobacco is twisted into a little pigtail so to speak, another traditional method.

You will notice the end of the cap by looking for a little line where that tobacco ends. You never want to cut past this line and into the shoulder, as doing so will cause your cigar to fall apart.

If you don’t believe me... ask the ashtray. How a cigar is made. Armando Nunez is from Marz Global. Visit