The parts of a cigar are divided into four basics: the cap (or tip); the head; the body, and the foot. The foot is the part you light and the cap is the part you cut off. A cigar is made up of three components: the filler; the binder and the wrapper. The filler is the “stuffing.” There are two general kinds of filler.
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Lower-end cigars contain bits of tobacco leaf, known as short-filler, which are crammed together and shaped to fit a specific cigar size. The process is a lot like making hot dogs. In the same way a hot dog contains left over bits, short-filler cigars are made from scraps of premium fillers or sometimes rejected inferior leaves.
Higher-end cigars use long-filler tobaccos. This is where the inner leaves are rolled into a tube and run the entire length of the cigar. A cigar maker will blend different filler leaves together to create unique tastes and flavors, much like a winemaker crafts wine. Whether a cigar is made of short or long-filler tobaccos, the filler leaves are always secured within a leaf called the binder, which sits just beneath the wrapper. The tobacco is put into a wooden mold and pressed into shape for about an hour. All premium cigars – both short or long-filler – are labeled “hecho a mano,” which means made by hand.
Finally, the roller then wraps the bunch in a wrapper leaf which is supple, very elastic and visibly pleasing. The cigar is then capped and trimmed to uniform size. The finished product is aged for at the very least 21 days and many factories age the finished cigars up to 24 months. A well-made cigar is one that’s firm but not tight and allows you to draw out the smoke easily and consistently.