We might say that the heart and soul of the cigar is the cigar filler. About 98 percent of the cigar, in fact, consists of filler tobacco. A very significant percentage of its flavor comes from the filler as well.
Many people new to cigars often ask us if cigar filler is anything at all like cigarette filler. Well, not to criticize cigarettes in any way, but to also be completely truthful, there really are little similarities, if any. With a cigar, you have a whole leaf wrapper surrounding whole leaf fillings. With cigarettes you basically have paper wrapped around shredded tobacco.
There are all sorts of cigar fillers used to make cigars, and all sorts of tobacco blends that go into these fillers to create unique and distinguishable tastes. In fact, the most famous cigar brands in the world use filler that is made from different kinds of tobacco, surrounded by a wrapper that is made from a single kind of tobacco.
This is why many of the highest, most quality cigars are often called “long filler” cigars.
Premium cigars also include a third piece in addition to the filler and the wrapper. This piece is called the binder. It too is made from a tobacco leaf, and it lays between the outer wrapper and the inner cigar filler. This additional layer allows cigar manufacturers to use more delicate and colorful leaves for wrappers.
Such fillers are almost always blended from many different types of tobacco. Even Cuban cigars use tobacco grown on different parts of the island to blend multiple flavors.
The more low-grade, machine-made cigars usually rely upon chopped tobacco leaves for cigar filler. Longer leaves or a paper-like substance made from tobacco pulp is used to make the wrapper that keeps the cigar together. It causes a cigar to burn differently when it is made that way, and it is thus less sought after than hand-rolled cigars.
Cigar fillers and binders are taken out from tobacco leaf bales and inspected. When necessary, they are aired on racks to remove excess moisture. They are then stored in wooden barrels until ready for use.
A hand-rolled cigar will have filler made of several different blends of long tobacco leaves. In machine made cigars, short filler is used. It will usually contain chemicals and other substances along with remnants of tobacco. Again, this is why hand-rolled cigars are preferred by aficionados.
About half of the overall flavor of a cigar comes from the filler. The cigar wrapper accounts for the rest of the flavor. The binder itself has little or no flavor to speak of.
Cigar filler tobacco is grown in many countries of the world. In Cuba, cigar makers only use only Cuban filler. Other manufacturers often use tobacco that comes from several different countries.
We find such tobacco fields throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Mexico also grows a great deal of his tobacco. The most famous and beloved leaf comes from the Vuelto Abajo region of Cuba. The volcanic soil here creates a tobacco that is rich, smooth, spicy, and sweet.
Jamaican cigar filler is known for being light in body and sweet to the taste.
Dominican filler features a wide assortment of flavors. This is because The Dominican Republic has so many different topographies, climatic variables, altitudes, and soils.
Honduran fillers have something of a coffee tone to them. Nicaraguan cigar fillers are known for spicy and earthy tones and are rapidly gaining popularity in the United States.
Mexican filler has a strong, sweet, and spicy flavor and is often blended with Jamaican and Dominican tobacco.