Cigar Lexicon


8-9-8 – standard box designed to hold 8 cigars on top, 9 in the middle and 8 on the bottom.

Aged cigar – a cigar which has been aged for a minimum of 5 years from date of manufacture.

Anilla – Cuban word for cigar band.

Band – ring of paper traditionally located below the shoulder of the cigar with branding details. Attributed by many historians to Gustave Bock, a German who owned a cigar factory in Cuba and started applying bands with his signature onto his cigars (intended for export to Europe) to distinguish them from rivals in the 1830s.

Binder – dense and strong sun-grown leaves applied to the outside of the tripa to protect and hold the filler tobaccos together to give the cigar shape and give combustibility to the Habano.

Blend – combination of different types of tobacco to create a specific character and taste.

Bloom – naturally occurring crystallisation of oils in the tobacco on the outside of the cigar to form a fine white powder-like substance. Can be gently wiped or brushed off without negative consequences.

Boquilla – literally “small mouth”. The foot of the cigar.

Box date – the month and year stamped on the base of the cigar box stating when the Habanos were packed into the box.

Bullet (cutter) – another term for a punch cutter.

Cabeza – synonym for perilla.

Cabinet Selection – a box with a sliding lid created for the British market at the start of the 20th Century for selected ‘Cabinet Quality’ Habanos. The cigars are always perfectly round and tied in a silk ribbon of bundles of 25 or 50.

Cabo de tabaco – literally “stub of tobacco”. Somewhat derisive slang in Cuba for a smoked cigar that has been cut much shorter than its original length to be finished at a later time.

Cap – circular separate piece of tobacco leaf that is applied to and completes the head of the cigar with the use of goma.

Capa – outer wrapper leaf of cigar.

Capote – the binder leaf.

Casquillo – circular cutter used by the torcedor to cut out the cap for the head of the cigar.

Catador – taster who daily tests cigars at the factories.

Cenicero – Spanish term for ashtray.

Cepo – instrument used to measure the ring gauge of a finished cigar. Also a synonym for the ring gauge itself in Cuba.

Chaveta – a flat metal tool shaped like a half moon used by torcedores to cut tobacco leaves whilst rolling.

Colorado – reddish-brown colour of wrapper leaf.

Colour (wrapper leaf) – general classifications of wrapper leaves from lightest to darkest are: Claro-Claro, Claro, Colorado Claro, Colorado, Colorado Maduro, Maduro, Oscuro.

Corona – industry standard vitola of cigar measuring 5 5/8” x 42 (142 x 16.67mm). This is also the cigar size contemplated when humidor capacity is stated by manufacturers in numbers of cigars.

Claro – description for a very light-brown coloured wrapper of a cigar.

Culebra – literally “snake”. Practice originating in Cuba of braiding 3 loosely filled, thin cigars held together by string. Long ago, these were rations for factory workers which managers could easily discern from other cigar stock to ensure the torcedores were not smoking any of the premium inventory.

Double figurado – cigar with irregular shape pointed at both ends.

Double guillotine (cigar cutter) – cigar cutter with two straight blades which come together to make a straight cut.

Draw – how easily a cigar allows air to pass through it.

Edición Limitada – Limited edition cigars in a vitola not usually produced in a specific brand’s portfolio made annually using fillers, binders and wrappers aged at least 2 years before being rolled. Each cigar has a second black and gold band stating it is an Edición Limitada along with the year of production. Until 2007 only the wrappers were aged for two years. Since 2007, all Edición Limitadas possess a maduro, shade-grown tobacco leaf wrapper and the binder and filler leaves are also aged for a minimum of 2 years.

EMS – English Market Selection. Used in Cuba for over a century to identify the quality of cigars designated for the British market. Cigar boxes and packs with the EMS stamp (introduced in 1993) have passed an additional UK quality control inspection by the sole importers of Cuban cigars into the UK, Hunters and Frankau. It serves as a guarantee of quality and authenticity for Habanos sold in the UK. The EMS stamp has changed colours annually since 1997.

Fabrica – Cuban term for cigar factory.

Factory code – secret code stamped on the base of the Habanos box indicating the factory where the cigars were manufactured.

Fermentation – the essential, natural and highly controlled process when moisture, heat, oxygen and pressure reach optimum levels to expel impurities in the tobacco leaf, smoothing the flavour and reducing acidity, tar and nicotine.

Festival del Habano – see Habanos Festival.

Figurado – cigar with irregular shape pointed at one end. The body is thicker at the boquilla.

Filler – blend of 2, 3 or 4 types of tobacco leaves that dictates the flavour.

Foot – the flat and open-ended bottom of the cigar where it should be lit.

Fortaleza – literally “strength”. Fortaleza 1, 2, 3 and 4 are synonyms for volado, seco, ligero and medio tiempo which increase in strength.

Fuma – cigar rolled by a torcedor for their own consumption.

Galera – literally “galley”. Factory workshop where cigars are made by hand.

Goma – tasteless and odourless vegetable gum used by torcedores to secure the wrapper leaf and cap on a finished cigar.

Gran Reserva – special productions of Habanos whose fillers, binders and wrappers are drawn exclusively from the Vuelta Abajo and made from tobaccos that have been aged for at least 5 years before being rolled. Customarily only 5,000 numbered and lacquered boxes each containing 15 cigars are produced. Every cigar carries a second black and gold band designating it as a Gran Reserva. Considered amongst the finest and most exclusive examples of cigar production in the Cuban cigar industry.

Guillotine (cutter) – traditional method of cutting a cigar whereby a single sharp blade cuts off a thin sliver off the cigar head. The most favoured method to cut a cigar in the industry as it does not distort the flavour.

Habano – a cigar that has been rolled in Havana, Cuba using exclusively Cuban tobacco. In the last ten years, the term has come to embrace all Cuban cigars produced on the island.

Habanos Festival – the renowned Havana cigar festival taking place annually in late-February since 1998 organised by Habanos S.A.

Habanos S.A. – the Cuban state-owned company which markets and distributes Cuban cigars globally.

Head – the top of the cigar (cap and shoulder) which must be cut and is where the flavour is delivered to the palate.

Heavy ring gauge – any ring gauge of 45 or higher.

Hecho en Cuba – Made in Cuba.

Humidor – container typically made out of wood or plastic to store cigars at the correct and constant relative humidity of 65-70%.

Hunters and Frankau – also known simply as ‘Hunters’. Established in 1790, Hunters and Frankau has imported Habanos into the UK since then. In 1990, Habanos S.A. appointed Hunters as their Exclusive Distributor for all Habanos in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands.

Liga – literally “blend”.

Ligador – Master Blender in a Habanos factory.

Ligero – a filler leaf taken from the top of the plant which is rich in flavour, typically dark in colour and is the main source of the taste of the cigar.

Long fillerfiller that is made from full-length tobacco leaves.

Maduro – literally “ripe”. Very dark brown wrapper on a finished cigar.

Medio tiempo – very rare and strongest flavoured filler leaf found only amongst the top two leaves on a sun-grown plant. Currently only found in the Cohiba Behike line of Cuban cigars.

Medium ring gauge – any ring gauge between 40 to 44 inclusive.

Oscuro – the darkest shade of leaf, close to black in colour.

Parejo – a cylindrical cigar with straight, parallel sides.

Perilla – literally “little pear”. The head of the cigar.

Pinar del Río – name of a Western region of Cuba that incorporates all the best growing zones in the whole of Cuba, including the Vuelta Abajo.

Punch (cutter) – a cigar cutter which has a small, circular blade. When pressed into the head of the cigar, it creates a small hole from which the smoke reaches the palate. Used to limit the volume of smoke reaching the palate and may be said to distort the cigar by concentrating the flavour towards the end of the cigar’s life. Particularly popular in the USA.

Puro – cigar in which all the tobacco comes from one country. In Spain is synonymous with cigar regardless of tobacco composition.

Rabo de cochino – literally “pig’s tail”. Where the cap of the head of the cigar has extra tobacco material that is twisted to resemble a tail. Currently found on all the prestigious Trinidad line of Cuban cigars.

Regional Edition (cigars) – limited series of Habanos produced to be distributed in only certain parts of the world. They are produced in sizes not normally associated with those brands and presented in numbered boxes. Every cigar carries a second anilla in silver and burgundy along with the name of the territory for which they were made.

Retro-haling – act of moving smoke from back of the mouth, up through the sinuses and exhaling through the nasal passages. This technique is used to create a powerful synergy of taste and olfaction (aroma and smell) where the spices, flavour and strength of the cigar will be pronounced simultaneously.

Reserva – special productions of Habanos whose fillers, binders and wrappers have all been aged for at least 3 years before being rolled. Customarily only 5,000 numbered and lacquered boxes each containing 20 cigars are produced. Every cigar carries a second black and silver band designating it as a Reserva.

Ring gauge – unit of measure for the diameter of a cigar typically in 64ths of an inch. Very rarely also stated in millimetres.

Seco – a type of filler leaf of medium flavour from the middle of the sun-grown plant which contributes greatly to the cigar’s aroma.

Sello de garantía – the warranty seal.

Shade (of wrapper) – the darkness of the wrapper of the cigar. Please see Colour.

Shade-grown – method used to grow tobacco plants for wrapper leaves in the shade under muslin cloth. Minimising the harsh rays of the sun, the appearance of the leaves are more uniform, subtler in flavour and more elastic since thinner than sun-grown plants.

Shoulder – rounded curve that transitions to the cap of the cigar. Some shoulder must be left to ensure the cigar does not unravel. This involves always cutting above the final horizontal line of the cap of the cigar when viewing the perilla.

SLB – “Sliding Lid Box” – another term for Cabinet Selection.

Slim ring gauge – any ring gauge of 39 or less.

Sun–grown – method used to grow tobacco plants for the binder and filler leaves in direct sunlight. This produces thicker and more flavourful leaves with more pronounced veins.

Tapado – literally “covered”. Cuban term for shade-grown.

Totalmente a Mano – totally by hand. Most Habanos are passed through more than 100 pairs of hands from the seed to the finished cigar.

Torcedor(a) – cigar roller.

Tripa – literally “guts”. The filler blend of 2, 3 or 4 types of tobacco leaves that dictates the flavour.

Tripa cortashort filler. Filler that is made from pieces of chopped up tobacco leaves.

Tripa largalong filler. Filler made from full length tobacco leaves.

Tubos – aluminium tubes usually with cedar lining to temporarily store a cigar.

Vega – specific plot of land on a farm where tobacco growing takes place.

Vegas finas – the finest of the Cuban tobacco plantations, which are all situated in the Vuelta Abajo, itself in Pinar del Río province in Cuba.

Veguero – Cuban tobacco farmer.

Vintage cigar – a cigar which has been aged for a minimum of 10 years from date of manufacture.

Vitola – in Cuba refers to the length, thickness and configuration (shape) of a cigar.

Vitola de galera – factory name given to the particular size and shape of a cigar, e.g. Prominentes (for a Double Corona).

Vitola de salida – market name for a cigar with particular size and shape, e.g. Double Corona.

Volado – a type of filler leaf used for its light flavour taken from the bottom of the plant which helps with combustibility of the cigar.

Vuelta Abajo – the finest tobacco growing land in the world, which grows all kinds of leaf and the main source for premium Habanos.

Warranty seal – a seal used by manufacturers since 1889 to protect Habanos boxes and packs from counterfeiters and prove the authenticity of the product. The current seal’s predecessor was first promoted by the Cuban government in 1912 and only in 1931 was the seal redesigned to include translations from Spanish into English, French and German languages. The latest 2009 seal includes two new features: holographic label to one side and a new bar code on the opposite side.

Wrapper – the smooth shade-grown outer leaf of the cigar that should be a feast for the eyes to see all the glory of the Habano.

© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.


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