Three Key Parts of a Premium Cigar & What To Look For
In this post we look at what makes up a premium cigar; and the three key parts which explain how important the cigar’s structure is to our smoking pleasure. Lastly, we outline what to look for and ask when considering making a purchase.
Naturally, it is important that the quality of the cigar is carefully maintained by a reputable cigar shop or online cigar store you purchased it from. A cigar is typically made with a certain level of dedication and specialist care we expect for such a luxury product. The three parts which make up a cigar’s structure include:
The outer part of the cigar uses a large tobacco leaf to wrap around it, resulting in a finished product. This is the part we make contact with, as it serves to protect the premium inner ‘filler’ tobacco leaves. The ‘wrapper’ holds the inner leaves in place and uses the ‘binder’ to give the cigar its shape. The larger leaves used for the ‘wrapper’ are those normally found at the lower part of the tobacco plant. When picked, these outer leaves need to be without any significant blemishes or discolouration; no holes or signs of insects; and without mould or tears/cuts. The outer leaves should feel slightly spongy with a light squeeze and not hard or brittle.
These premium tobacco leaves are found inside the ‘wrapper’. The ‘filler’ leaves account for a significant part of the price we pay for a premium cigar. These high quality tobacco leaves are meticulously grown and selected to create the small bunches used to roll a cigar. The ‘filler’ leaves really are the secret source of a premium cigar. Their complex, profound aromas and in-depth flavours make a cigar aficionado relish their smoking experience. ‘Filler’ leaves inside a cigar which become dry and brittle due to poor storage conditions (cigar humidor is strongly advised), will ultimately result in a poor smoking experience.
Made from the same or very similar leaves as those used to make the cigar’s ‘wrapper’, but usually contain some imperfections such as naturally-occurring perforations (tiny holes) and/or discolouration. As the name implies, the ‘binder’ brings together and holds the premium ‘filler’ leaves in place, making it easier to apply by rolling the ‘wrapper’.
Best Cigar Advice Ever Received
When I first started out I had no idea about cigars…like most of us. I read about the best Dominican and Cuban cigars, sticking to cigar brands like Partagas, MonteCristo, Romeo y Julieta, Cohiba, Monterrey and so on. These were all recommended in cigar magazines and suggested by cigar-smoking friends. I joined cigar clubs and meetups to expand my knowledge. Recently, I’ve visited cigar lounges, which I really enjoy.
My advice is the same to you. Half the fun of purchasing and looking forward to that meditative experience of cigar smoking, are the discussions to be had with experienced cigar aficionados. You can even have great exchanges with cigar shops or online clubs/forums you become a member of. So why not share with them your level of smoking experience and/or what you enjoy or are looking for – you’ll find many suggestions forthcoming!
Another bit of good advice is to use a simple rating system from 1 to 5 (5 being the strongest), when explaining to cigar shops the intensity of the aroma and flavour of a cigar you are seeking.
Size of Premium Cigars Does Matter
If you are a beginner, you might prefer starting with a smaller cigar (look for the words ‘petit’ or ‘mini’ on the packaging). Not only is a smaller cigar easier to smoke and takes less time, but could be smoother. A flavour intensity rating of 3 or less, is a good start. When you’re ready and willing, you can work your way up to a Corona or Double Corona!
Nevertheless, if you do have a preference for a strong, full-bodied cigar from the get-go, then I’d recommend you start there.
Final Words Concerning Quality
Last but not least, regarding the freshness and quality of a cigar. When purchasing it is recommended that you try to view the product if possible – unless it is a sealed wrapper or cigar box of course (you can view the packing date on the underside). Pay particular attention to the quality finish of the wrapper and cap (closed end) of the cigar. The cigar should be well-made with a smooth finish, without any tears, pin holes, discolouration or other obvious/severe imperfections.
And always use the best cigar cutter available, to ensure a clean, precise cut of the cap end. This will avoid compacting or tearing the filler leaves, and unraveling the cigar. Enjoy!