Cigar 101: Cigar Anatomy and Sizing
A cigar is made up of three parts: the head, the body, and the foot. The head is the end of the cigar in which you smoke by cutting off the cap (or tip). The foot is then end of the cigar in which you light.
A cigar is also comprised of 3 components: the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. The filler is the “stuffing” within the cigar. There are two kinds of general filler.
Budget friendly cigars contain bits of tobacco leaf, known as short-filler, which are crammed together and shaped to fit a specific cigar size. In the same way a hot dog contains left over bits, short-filler cigars are made from scraps of premium fillers or leaves that don’t have the proper ascetics for wrapper selection.
Higher-end cigars use long-filler tobaccos. The two most common long filler processes are called “Accordian” and “Entubo”. A lot of hardcore traditionalists use “Entubo”. 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. This is called the bunch. The tobacco is then put into a wooden mold and pressed into shape for about an hour.
Finally, the roller then wraps the bunch in a supple, very elastic and visibly pleasing wrapper leaf. The cigar is then capped and trimmed to uniform size. The wrapper is the most important element of the cigar, as it gives a cigar not only its appearance and smell, but provides much of the taste as well. Although manufacturers have identified over 100 different shades of wrapper, only six are of great distinction.
Double Claro – this is a green wrapper also known as a “Candela”
Claro – Which is very light tan in color, almost beige, usually referred to as “Connecticut”.
Colorado Claro – Is medium brown in color that is often referred to as “Natural”.
Colorado – This shade is instantly recognizable by the obvious reddish tint.
Colorado Maduro – Darker than Colorado Claro in shade, this color is often associated with African tobaccos such as Cameroon.
Maduro – Very dark brown, almost black.
Ok..now that we have the make up of a cigar all cleared up, let’s talk about sizing. Properly described, the shape of a cigar is measured according to length and diameter. The length of a cigar is measured in inches but the diameter is measured according to its ring gauge. Ring gauge is a unit of measurement divisible by 64. Most cigars have a ring gauge of 64 or less.
There’s no real trick to this – the ring gauge system may appear confusing at first, but it is simply an antiquated system that measures the diameter of a cigar in units of 64 (64 is equal to 1 inch). Therefore, a ring gauge of 48 would be a 3/4? of an inch thick. So a cigar described as 5x48 would be 5 inches in length and is ¾ of an inch thick in diameter.