CIGAR TERMS

Cigar Terms

0ld and New Cigar Terms

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8-9-8

a form of packaging in which there are three rows of cigars in the box; eight in the bottom row, nine in the middle, and eight in the top: created so the cigars would not be pressed and stay round in shape

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Aging

allowing cigars to ‘sleep’ in a proper temperature and humidified environment for long periods of time; usually measured in ‘seasons’ such as winter, spring, summer, fall and/or years

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Aging Room

also called a Marrying Room; usually cedar lined, there the completed cigars are permitted to rest, so that their various tobaccos can reach a constant humidity level while their flavors blend

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AMS

AMS (American Market Selection): Another way of referring to double claro wrappers, claro claro or jade, which were traditionally the most popular on the U.S. market in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, although this is no longer the case; see also EMS (English Market Selection) or Colorado and SMS (Spanish Market Selection or Maduro

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Anilla

The Cuban word for a cigar band or ring (known in Spain as "vitola")

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Anilladora

the fabrica worker, traditionally a woman, who puts the rings on the cigars and packs them in their boxes

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Aroma

the smell of a cigar being smoked (see also bouquet)

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Band

the small signature label wrapped around the cigar near its head; also know as the “ring”. The paper band or printed ring on a cigar. Usually paper and sometimes silk

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Barrel

another word for the body of a cigar; also called a cannon

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Beetle or Tobacco Beetle

the evil cigar bug called Lacioderma; the only insect that will eat tobacco; all tobacco has the Lacioderma larva; most established manufactures treat the tobacco and finished cigars to kill the larva; however, the larva will hatch if the cigars are kept in temperatures over 78 degrees (see also Freezing)

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Belicoso

a thick ‘shaped’ cigar with a tapered head and foot, generally with a ring gauge of 52 or more

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Biddies

a term for a small East Indian cigar; also used by Agio as a brand name for one of their 100% tobacco miniatures

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Binder

the leaf that is wrapped around the filler to hold the cigar together before it is finished and enclosed in the wrapper leaf

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Blender

the cigar maker responsible for the blend of tobaccos that goes to the rollers for assembling the cigars; the blending process is closely guarded secret

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Bloom

when cigars ferment in the box they exude small amounts of oils that can dry to a white powder, which can be brushed off; it is not to be confused with blue mold, which causes a stain on the wrapper and can ruin the cigar. Bloom also referred to as "Plume" is crystallized tobacco oils formed under ideal storage conditions.

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Bohios

Tobacco farmers in Cuba lived in small square houses thached with palm fronds originally used by Tiano Indians of Cuba.

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Boîte nature

plain cedar-box packaging without vistas or other trimmings

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Bonche

The cylindrical bunch formed when the filler leaves are wrapped in the binder leaf. See also Bunch.

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Booking

folding the filler leaves in half like a book before they are bunched and enclosed in the binder; booking the bunch is not desirable in cigar making as it tends to produce a heavy concentration of all the filler leaves along the folds impairing the smoker’s ability to get a complete, evenly distributed taste of every tobacco in the blend; this linear concentration can also cause a cigar to burn unevenly down the side

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Bouquet

the smell of tobacco when you open a cigar box, the smell of fine cigars before you light up. (see also aroma)

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Box-Pressed

describes cigars that are actually pressed in their boxes, giving them a somewhat squared-off shape

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Buckeye

a term used to designate a small cigar maker, usually one man shop; sometimes a few rollers (i.e. a “Mom and Pop” operation)

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Bulk

a large pile or stack of tobacco leaves ready for fermentation

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Bunch

the leaves used to make up the filler and the binder, when they are ready for the wrapper; they are bunched together, hence the name. See also Bonche

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Bundle

another form of packaging, where cigars are sold in sets of twenty-five to fifty, usually tied together with a ribbon. Most bundles are then wrapped in cellophane or paper

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Burro

Cuban term for the bales of tobacco in which leaf fermentation takes place; a large stack or pile of tobacco leaves for fermentation

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Butt

the small tied ends of a hand of tobacco; can also be used to describe someone who doesn’t agree with your choice of cigars!

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Cabinet Box

a cigar box without stickers or labels; usually unfinished Spanish cedar or mahogany

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Café

A very light colored wrapper. Pale tan or even pale green. See also Double Claro or "Claro Claro"

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Candela

another term for Claro Claro or Double Claro; see also AMS (American Market Selection) or Café. Very light green color.

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Canon

(pronounced ‘canyon’) the body of a cigar between the tuck end and the head

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Cap

the piece of wrapper that covers the head of the cigar; usually trimmed prior to smoking

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Capa

the wrapper leaf; literally, “cape” or “ cloak” in Spanish

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Capote

the word for Binder in Spanish

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Casa de tabaco

curing barn on a tobacco plantation (Vega); usually a wooden building with a thatched roof

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Casing

another name for the moja, or spraying of the leaves to re-moisturize them after drying or curing so that the tobacco becomes pliable and easy to work

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Catador

professional smoker or taster in a fábrica who tests a random selection of each roller’s output

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Cellophane

Used to make the packing tubes (or sleeves) individual cigars are packed and shipped in. Cellophane is made from cellulose and is microscopically porous. Cellophane will absorb moisture and therefore, cigars packaged in a cellophane sleeve will become moist or dry out to the level of humidity they are stored in. Store cigars with the cellophane on or off? This is a highly controversial subject. I'll just say it's a matter of opinion.

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Chaveta

a small semicircular sharp-edged instrument used by rollers (Torcedores) for cutting the wrapper leaf and rolling the cigar; their only tool; today’s Chavetas are usually hand made out of old saw blades

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Cheroot

a rustic looking cigar, often medium to long in length and with a narrow ring size; their wrapper tend to be rough and veiny. Cheroots are not pressed in molds

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Churchill

one of the classic cigar sizes, 7 inches by 47 ring gauge, named after the great British statesman Winston Churchill

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Claro

one of the seven classifications of wrapper according to color and maturity; pale green to light tan or pale brown

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Clear Havana

beginning in the late nineteenth century, a cigar made in the Key West or Tampa area, from all Cuban tobacco

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Cohiba

Cuban native (Taino) Indian word for cigar; applied in the late 1960’s to Castro’s personal diplomatic brand, which went on sale to the public after about a decade in the early 1980s

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Colorado

one of the seven wrapper classifications according to color and maturity of the leaf; medium brown to brownish red; also referred to as EMS (English Market Selection)

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Colorado Claro

the medium-brown-shaded wrapper: also referred to as “natural”

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Colorado Maduro

the dark-brown-shaded wrapper; somewhat lighter and more aromatic than Maduro

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Corojo

the Cuban wrapper plant, shade-grown and named for the famous old plantation where it was developed, El Corojo Vega: it has six categories of leaf, from top to bottom: corona, centro gordo, centro fino, centro ligero, uno y medio, and libre del pie; sometimes the top leaves are divided into corona and semi corona, making seven categories

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Corona

the classic midsize cigar, 5½“ x 42 rings; also, the leaves highest on the Cuban wrapper (corojo) tobacco plant

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Corte Caracol

Spanish for “seashell cut”; the technique of hand-cutting a rounded circle of tobacco and leaving it attached at the end of a wrapper so that the end of the leaf can be used for the head without having to remove it from the wrapper

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Criollo

(pronounced Cree-oh-yoss) the Cuban filler plant; a Cuban term for descendants of the original Spaniards, but it is also a strain of Cuban tobacco from which filler blends and binders are derived; a third definition is the name given to the harsh cigars smoked by Cubans locally

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Cuban Embargo

a U.S. law signed in October 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, prohibiting trade with Cuba in retaliation for Cuban nationalization of American businesses

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Cuje

the pole used for hanging the bunches of tobacco leaves near the eaves of the curing barns (casa de tabaco)

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Culebra

the most exotic of all shaped cigars, it is actually three panatelas braided together; literally “snake” in Spanish; Culebras originated in the 19th century as a means to stop workers from stealing the cigars they were rolling; it was decided to allocate three cigars per day to each worker and to have them twisted together while they were still wet, in that way it would be easy to spot which cigars were not supposed to be leaving the premises

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Curley Head

a method of finishing the head of a cigar by giving the tobacco there a quick twist

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Dead Solider

a phrase coined during the Civil War for the old cigar butts left lying around by Andrew Jackson

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Desbotonar

the process of trimming the suckers and the top bud off of the tobacco plant to concentrate growth on the development of additional leaves which also increases strength in the main leaves

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Despililladora

a stripper; the female worker in the fabrica who strips the stems out of the leaves

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Diamedmas

a large shaped cigar, essentially a true torpedo shape, at least 8 inches long, with a ring gauge of 40 near the head and 52 or 54 at or near the foot, tapering at each end; also see figurado

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Divan

a private smoking room or club

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Double Claro

the lightest-shade wrapper; same as claro claro or candela

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Double Corona

a classic large cigar shape with dimensions of 7½“ to 8” by 48 to 52-ring gauge

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Dress Box

the opposite of a cabinet box, the dress box is amply decorated with labels and other trimmings that cover the wood

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Dutch Cigars

a nonhumidified cigar; you’ll also see them referred to as ‘dry cigars’; they are usually quite small in size

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Elantrics

a service based on electronic knowlege and simple programing tricks used to create user-friendly web sites.

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EMS

English Market Selection: the range of brown-colored wrappers that have been traditionally most popular in the U.K.

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Escaparate

The conditioning room where cigars are stored at 16 to 18 degrees C, and between 65 and 70 percent humidity to recover from the rigors of the making process

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Escogedora

a female cigar-factory worker who sorts leaves by color; the sorting process is known as the escogida

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Fabrica

a cigar factory

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Fancy Tail

another name for the Curly Head

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Fermentation

the process by which harvested, cured tobacco leaves are placed in large piles; sap and ammonia seep out, starch in the leaves turns to sugar, and they acquire finesse and character; due to fermentation, tobacco for premium cigars contains less acidity, tar, and nicotine than cigarette tobacco

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Figurado

Spanish for “shaped”; any cigar that is not the standard cylindrical shape with parallel sides and rounded head. For example, belicosos, torpedoes, pyramids or pyramids, trumpets, perfectos, and culebras

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Fileteador

the cigar-factory worker who puts the trimmings on the boxes; after the filete, the ribbon of paper that seals the joints and edges of the cigar box; usually called a “dress box”

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Filetes

strips of decorative paper used to form an ornamental edge for cigar boxes. Traditional Paper covered boxes are also known as a Dress Box.

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Filler

the tobacco that makes up the interior of the cigar; also known as the bunch

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Flag Cap

a wrapper leaf that is expertly twisted to form the cap of the cigar, rather than attaching a separate piece of wrapper; found only on certain super-premium cigars, such as the Cohiba Corona Especial

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Flat Head

a cigar style in which the head is flat; customary in many premium Cuban cigars

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Foot

the opposite end from the head; the end of the cigar you light; also called the Tuck

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Fortaleza

Literally strength. Fortaleza 1, 2 and 3 are synonyms for Volado, Seco and Ligero

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Freezing

common method used to kill tobacco beetles or larva before they hatch; recommend freezing cigars sealed in air tight bags in temperatures 10° below Zero Fahrenheit for 72 hours; NOTE: this MUCH lower temperature is not a home refrigerator-freezer (you'll need a "Deep Freeze" to get 10° below zero); then move to a refrigerator temperature of 40° for 24 hours so the wrapper leaf does not crack due to drastic temperature increase; then keep cigars 70° & 70%

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Frontmark

the name of a cigar’s shape that is printed on the outside of a box

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Fuma

another name for the curly head or pig’s tail of a cigar; it came from the phrase that came to symbolize the twisted "signature" head of the cigar maker’s smoke: La Fuma de Tabacalera (the smoke of the cigar maker); the name "fuma" stuck

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Galera

the huge, cavernous room in a fabrica (cigar factory) where the rollers sit at rows of tables and manufacture the cigars

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Gavilla

a roller’s allotment of tobacco, usually enough for twenty-five to fifty cigars A bunch of graded tobacco leaves tied by their stems for handling

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Goma

the colorless, flavorless gum used to seal the wrapper on a cigar; also known as gum

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Guayavera

a traditional four-pocket shirt worn by cigar makers throughout the Caribbean; the long sleeved version of the guayavera is considered formal enough to wear to a wedding without a tie

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Gum

vegetable gum used as adhesive to attaché the cap and/or the band to the cigar

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Habanos

Spanish for "Havanas". The term is used as the denomination of origin for the finest cigars made in Cuba

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Habanos, S.A.

the Cuban government company that manufactures and exports Havana cigars

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Habilitaciónes

collective term for the trimmings on a cigar box: there are ten types, including the vista, the sello de garanita (official government seal) and the vitola

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Hand

a bunch of (generally) five tobacco leaves sewn together and ready for the curing barn and/or fermentation

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Handmade

a cigar manufactured entirely by hand. Please note: Not all "Handmade" cigars are TOTALLY handmade. If the wrapper is applied by hand, it can be called handmade, even if the bunch is machine made.

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Handrolled

a cigar in which only the wrapper has been rolled onto the machine-made bunch by hand, sometimes loosely used to designate a handmade cigar

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Head

the end of the cigar you must clip; the end you draw smoke from

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Hencho a Mano

Spanish for made by hand

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Herf

When people get together and are Smoking Cigars. An event nickname developed for cigar smokers in the late ninetys on a cigar smokers News Group. Herf; to smoke a cigar with others.

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Herf Edition

The New Stinky Cigar Ashtray - Herf Edition. Introduced at the 2006 RTDA in Las Vegas to promote Stinky Cigar Ashtray sales, retail cigar shop operators wanted it! The Stinky Cigar Ashtray "Herf Edition" became available the end of April in 2007. This 3-gallon, solid stainless steel monster is the largest cigar ashtray for public sale in the world.

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Homogenized Tobacco

an artificially produced tobacco that is used as a binder and occasionally as wrapper on many lower priced cigars as well as in a number of mass-market humidified cigars; homogenized tobacco is made by mixing powdered tobacco with pure cellulose, fibers and water to create a pulp, which is pressed into long, thin sheets which are dried and then wrapped in rolls; these rolls of tobacco are subsequently fed into cigar-making machines (see also HTL)

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HTL

Homogenized Tobacco Leaf; an artificial tobacco process formerly owned by General Cigar Co.

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Humidor

any sealed room or box used to keep cigars in good condition at 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit and approximately 70 percent relative humidity

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Hygrometer

a device that measures relative humidity; every humidor should have one

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Lacioderma

the evil cigar bug commonly called the Tobacco Beetle; the only insect that will eat tobacco; all tobacco has the Lacioderma larva; most established manufactures treat the tobacco and finished cigars to kill the larva; however, the larva will hatch if the cigars are kept in temperatures over 78 degrees (see also Freezing)

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Lector

a reader in the fabrica (a cigar factory) who entertains the workers by reading from newspapers, magazines or literary works; a practice that started around 1850

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Lieberman

a hand-operated bunching device that utilizes a rubber sheet to roll the filler up into the binder; named after the inventor

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Ligador

The Master Blender in a cigar factory

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Ligero

the strongest of the three types of tobacco leaves used for filler; comes from highest up on the plant, it is oilier and burns more slowly; literally “light”; see also seco and volado

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Long Filler

tobacco leaves running the full length of a cigar rather than chopped up, as in a machine-made cigar or cigarettes

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Lonsdale

a classic size; usually 6¼“ to 6½“ with a ring gauge of 42 to 44; named after the Earl of Lonsdale

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Maduro

the dark, rich brown-colored wrapper; has less aroma and more flavor than the Colorado Maduro; sometimes called Spanish Market Selection (SMS); literally “ripe” in Spanish

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Marble Head

a cigar that has a rounded head and is customary in Dominican Republic cigar factories (see also Flat Head)

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Marrying

the blending of traits and characteristics between cigars and/or their tobaccos; sometimes desirable, especially when aging a number of similar cigars; not desirable between a broad assortment of cigars with varying traits; also referred to as aging

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Media rueda

literally, “half wheel”; a bundle of fifty cigars; to reach one’s media rueda, or half wheel, in Cuba means to turn fifty

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Moja

The process of moistening tobacco leaves. Usually sprayed or dipped into plain water Inactive Source: The Complete Guide for Habano's Enthusiasts

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Mold

maintain cigars in a too high humid environment and this is what you’ll get; different than plume or bloom, as it permeates the wrapper of the cigar, spotting the wrapper leaf; where the white bloom or plume still has a good tobacco bouquet, mold usually STINKS!

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Mulling

a synonym for the aging or fermentation of tobacco or the aging of tobacco leaves to bring them to the desired color

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Naked

cigars packed into the cigar box without cellophane sleeves; uncovered and unprotected; some cigars that are packed ‘naked’ have bands, some don’t

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Natural Head

using an attached part of the wrapper leaf to form the head without having to cut off a separate piece to make the cap

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Nicotiana

original name given to the tobacco plant in 1570; after the French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, who popularized it in his native country

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Olor

one of two major types of tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic: the native one, milder than the piloto cubano

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Oscuro

the darkest-colored, sun-grown wrapper; very dark brown, with strong flavor; less common in today’s market than Maduro, Colorado, or natural wrappers; sometimes referred to as “Maduro Maduro”

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Pacas

Hessian bales in which binder and filler leaves are aged

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Panatela

a classic shape, longer and thinner, 5” to 7½“ long with a 33 to 38 ring gauge; its popular heyday in the late 1960’s and 1970’s; alternate spelling: “panatella”

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Papelito

an early cigarette, beginning in the mid-eighteenth century; made from cigar-factory scrap tobacco rolled in paper; literally “little paper” in Spanish

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Perfecto

a shaped cigar that is fatter in the middle, closed at its head and tapered or closed at its foot, with a length of 4½“ to 5 inches long with a ring gauge of 38; popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

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Petit Corona

the classic smaller cigar, about 4½“ long by 40 to 42-ring gauge (the preferred size by former President John F. Kennedy)

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Pig Tail

same as the Curly Head in which the tobacco covering the head is twisted at the tip

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Piloto Cubano

Cuban-seed Dominican-grown tobacco

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Priming

synonym for harvesting the leaves from a tobacco plant; leaves are picked from the bottom of the plant first, then as the leaves are ready, the next level of leaves are picked until the top leaves are finally picked; tobacco leaves are “pinched” with the fingernail in a quick snap to remove each leaf

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Puro or Puros

popular Spanish name for a cigar; literally “pure” in Spanish; also a cigar made from all locally grown tobacco; in Havana it means any high-grade export type cigar

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Pyramid

a shaped cigar that flares from a narrow ring gauge at the head to a wide gauge at the foot (in Spanish: piramide); Sometimes referred to as a "Trumpet" Also, commonly and incorrectly referred to as a ‘torpedo’ …which it is not

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Ring

the small label that is wrapped around the cigar and is its signature; also known as the band. Spanish: Vitola ...The paper band or printed ring on a cigar. Usually paper and sometimes silk

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Ring Guage

the diameter of a cigar measured in 64th of an inch; for example, a ring gauge of 48 is 48/64 of an inch or ¾ of an inch

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Robusto

a short, stocky size that became very popular in the 1990’s; traditionally 5 to 5 ½ “ long with a ring gauge around 50. Also See: Rothschild

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Roller

a cigar-factory worker who manufactures the cigars; in Spanish: Torcedor

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Rothschild

predicesor to the Robusto. Usually 5" by 50 ring originally half of the Double Corona size. The last quarter of the 19th century, Financier L. Rothschild told the Hoyo de Monterrey factory to develop a shorter cigar with a larger ring size, so that smokers could enjoy a richer taste without having to puff away at a full-length cigar. Baron Elie Rothschild of France ordered 2,000 each year.

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Sandwich Filler

a technique in which the filler is composed of “chopped” short leaf tobacco, which is rolled in with long leaf outer filler leaves; sounds more like a burrito than a sandwich!

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Seco

One of the "Tiempos" or families of filler leaves. One of the three types of tobacco leaves used as filler; comes from the middle of the plant; has mild to medium flavor and aroma and a steady burn; literally “dry” in Spanish (also see ligero and valado)

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Serones

a bag made of woven Cana palm tree leaves and used to transport dried tobacco from the fields; each serone is filled with roughly 60 kilos (about 103 pounds) of tobacco

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Shaded or Shading

a term used to describe the sorting out of cigars by color prior to placing into their box so that each cigar in the box is the same shade; some of the better premium cigars are placed in their box with the color shade increasing from left to right

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Sibone

legendary native Cuban martyr who, before being burned at the stake by the Spaniards, said: “If this is what Christianity is all about, I don’t want anything to do with it”; when Castro nationalized all the old brands, the single state brand that replaced them was called Sibone. And, within a year, the brand was pulled because the world market demanded the brand names popularized during the last century

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SMS

(Spanish Market Selection): a Maduro wrapper, traditionally the most popular in the Spanish market

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Spank Me

A descriptive term used to describe a wonderful cigar smoking experience with unusually great sence of euphoria. Typically after a strong cigar which pleases the cigar smoker and does not make him sick.

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Stogie or Stogy

the American nickname for a cheap cigar that was made in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, the center of native-leaf production in the early nineteenth century; one popular myth has it that it was so named because drivers of Conestoga wagons crossing the plains typically smoked them; they were thought to resemble the spokes on a Conestoga wagon wheel; today, a somewhat derogatory term for a cheap cigar; originally invented about 1826 by a tobacco merchant named George W. Black in Washington, Pennsylvania

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Stripper

a cigar-factory worker, traditionally female, who strips the leaves from the stem; despililladora in Spanish

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Tabacuba

The Cuban corporation that manages the agricultural and manufacturing functions of the Cuban tobacco industry

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Terico

a bale of fermented tobacco wrapped in the bark of Royal Palm, ready for aging and/or shipment to the factory

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Tobacco Bettle

the evil cigar bug called Lacioderma; the only insect that will eat tobacco; all tobacco has the Lacioderma larva; most established manufactures treat the tobacco and finished cigars to kill the larva; however, the larva will hatch if the cigars are kept in temperatures over 78 degrees (see also Freezing)

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Torcedor

a cigar roller; literally “twister” or “one who twists” in Spanish

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Torpedo

originally a Torpedo was a shaped cigar wide in the middle and narrow (or pointed) at each end. However, many cigar makers today produce a Torpedo which has a tapered head, straight sides and a cut foot. Names for cigar shapes are not regulated.

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Totalmente a Mano

Totally made by hand. A description created in Havana to differentiate between the Cuban methods of making cigars by hand and the semi-mechanized techniques used elsewhere that can legally be described as "Hencho a Mano" or "Hand Made"

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Tripa

Filler, the blend of two or three different types of leaves that form the heart of a cigar and dictate its flavour

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Tripa Larga

Long filler. Filler that is made from complete (full length) tobacco leaves

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Trumpet

a shaped cigar that flares from a narrow ring gauge at the head to a wide gauge at the foot. Sometimes referred to as a "Pyramid" Also, commonly and incorrectly referred to as a ‘torpedo’ …which it is not

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Tuck

another term for the foot of a cigar; the end you light

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Vega

a tobacco plantation or farm

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Vega Fina de Primera

Individual fields on farms in registered Cuban tobacco regions that are approved by the Tobacco Institute to grow leaf for Habanos (Cuban Cigars)

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Veguero

a tobacco planter or farmer

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Vista

a decorative label glued to the inside of a cigar box for display purposes

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Vitola

The paper band or printed ring on a cigar. Usually paper and sometimes silk

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Vitolphile

a person who makes a career or hobby of collecting cigar bands and/or other cigar-box trimmings

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Volado

one of the three basic types of tobacco leaves used for filler: comes from farthest down on the plant, is the mildest in taste and burns fastest; the other two are seco and ligero

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Whiff

a Dutch-type cigar that is smaller than a cigarillo

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Wrapper

the outside or finishing leaf of a cigar (do not call cellophane ‘the wrapper’!)

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Yagua

The loose part of the bark of the Royal Palm, Cuba's national tree, that is used to make bales (tercvios) in which wrapper leaves are aged

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Zafado

The gentle loosening of tobacco leaves after they have been unpacked in gavillas from bales

 

 


 

 

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