The anatomy of a cigar

The anatomy of a cigar

Smoking a cigar is an enjoyable experience, and the construction of a cigar is an art form to be admired. Every layer of a cigar is carefully considered and then meticulously assembled to ensure you have a great smoking experience.

When smoking cigars, you may or may not be aware there are three main parts of a cigar — the filler, binder, and wrapper leaf.

The extraordinary blend of every cigar can be compared to a recipe. A manufacturer can experiment with tobacco combinations to create the perfect taste profile. Most mixes are available in many different sizing options to suit a range of smoking styles.

Cigar wrapper

When exploring the anatomy of a cigar, we should start with the wrapper. This is the outer leaf that envelops the interior tobacco and is the first thing you may notice about a cigar. The outer leaf carries a pristine, smooth, and enticing appearance.

The wrapper color can differ depending on thickness and texture and can determine at least 60% of the flavor you perceive in a cigar.

The wrapper receives the greatest amount of attention throughout the process of growing, fermentation, and construction of a cigar, as it’s the first thing the buyer looks at when considering aesthetic quality.

Binder tobacco

The next layer is rather important to the stogie. Just inside the wrapper leaf you can find the binder tobaccos. This is the part of the cigar that encases the filler tobacco. The binder tobacco helps maintain the cigar’s structure and density, ensuring a smooth, consistent burn. Cigars can be rolled with a single binder leaf or two, depending on the cigar manufacturer or brand.

Filler tobacco

Filler tobacco is the middle section of the cigar. Filler tobaccos enhance the flavors of the wrapper, and this core can determine what kind of draw you will experience. There is also a difference between long-filler and short-filler tobaccos. 

Short-filler tobaccos are generally associated with cheap cigars, and the tobacco is cut into smaller individual pieces without running the entire length of the cigar. However, they tend to carry a more straightforward flavor profile, and the taste that transitions when smoking a cigar with short-filler tobaccos can create a uniform flavor. 

Long-filler cigars are of higher quality and are typically handmade, as the leaf runs all the way through the cigar. Cigars with long-filler tobaccos carry a more complex flavor profile and a higher price tag.

Filler tobacco can be blended with the wrapper and binder to create a wide range of flavor profiles, from mild-full-bodied sweetness to spicier flavors. Don’t forget the filler tobacco flavors can vary depending on the origin in which they were grown, as well as the brand and blender preferences. 


The cigar cap is the head of the cigar — the part you put into your mouth. It consists of the same tobacco leaf as the wrapper. Identify the cap by the line or seam around the head of the cigar.

The cap is the part of the cigar you cut to smoke your cigar. As a general rule, you never want to cut the cigar below the shoulder area. The cap will help keep the wrapper intact throughout smoking.


The foot is the end of the cigar that you light, which must be lightly toasted instead of touching straight with a flame. This is because you want to avoid some common cigar problems like an uneven burn or canoeing.

Once you light your cigar, ensure you gently blow on the foot to make it glow like an even-red orange cherry.

Cigar band

Cigar bands are an excellent way for customers to easily identify a brand when displayed on a shelf or a website.

Bands can carry imagery — everything from colored landscapes to crests, medals, and calligraphy fonts. Certain bands can enhance a person’s perception of a cigar and draw attention to the wrapper leaf.

Bands can be used as labels that give smokers an idea of which cigars they have in their humidors with a simple glance. They can include the name, size, and strength of a cigar, making selection for a specific occasion easy.

Some smokers will collect cigar bands to keep track of smokes they would like to revisit or build up a collection to show off to friends and family.

Common cigar construction issues

Unfortunately, issues can sometimes arise in constructing a cigar. For example, if too much filler has been used, this blocks the airflow through the cigar, and it won’t be able to stay alight. This can also extend to the splitting of the wrapper and a tarnished smoking experience overall.

On the other hand, not enough tobacco can provide a cigar with an uneven appearance and feel, which opens air pockets for too much air to pass through. When this happens, the cigar burns faster than it initially should and can mask the flavor and leave an unpleasant taste on the palette.

To overcome these issues, you should explore how to care for your cigars and ensure you are aware of some of the problems that can arise when smoking a cigar.

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