A dictionary of terms you're not likely to use outside the realm of fellow cigar connoisseurs but which are fun to drop into a conversation when you are visiting a cigar factory or when you just want to impress your friends.
Aging Room A special room located in a cigar factory, where the walls are lined in Spanish cedar and inside, completed cigars are permitted to rest, so that their various tobaccos can reach a constant humidity level while their flavors blend.
Binder The leaf that is rolled around the filler to hold it together.
Blending The art of creating the recipe to achieve the characteristic flavor of a particular cigar
Box Press Pressing or squaring off cigars, so that they are not round. The original purpose of box pressing was to keep the cigars from rolling off the table. Today many cigars are Square Pressed, which produces even sharper corners than the original box or Spanish press.
Bulk During fermentation, air cured tobacco is stacked and covered in burlap where it continues to ripen
Bunch The group of leaves that comprise the filler and binder before they are rolled into a wrapper.
Bunchmaker/buncher The person in a cigar factory who makes bunches.
Cabinet Box A thick cedar box in which all of the wood is exposed and not covered with stickers or labels. Ink stampings or embossings are used instead.
Cap The piece of tobacco that covers the head of the cigar; the end that you will ultimately clip.
Chaveta The flat, rounded blade used by cigar rollers to trim the various tobacco leaves during the construction of a cigar.
Cigarden A term coined by the author; it refers to a landscaped backyard environment that has been specifically designed for cigar smoking.
Coffin An elegant wooden box used to protect and display a single premium cigar.
Conditioning The process of spraying newly-arrived hands of tobacco, dry from storage, with water, so that the re-moisturized tobacco becomes pliable and easy to work with.
Criollo A native variety of tobacco that is used to develop new and improved hybrid seeds.
Curing The process by which freshly harvested tobacco leaves are hung in special sheds to remove moisture.
Cutting Board The laminated hardwood table of the bench on which cigars are made. Also referred to as La Tabla.
Draw test A quality assurance test which measures the flow of air through the body of the cigar.
Figurado Any shaped cigar, such as a torpedo, pyramid or belicoso.
Filler A blend of tobacco that forms the thick center of a cigar and contributes to its overall taste.
Foot The end of the cigar that you light. Also called the tuck end.
Frontmark The name of a cigar's shape that is printed on the outside of a box. Also called a vitola.
Fuma Exclusive to us at General Cigar, this is an unfinished cigar made of one type of tobacco used primarily by the blender to determine the tobaccos flavor and strength.
Gar Slang for cigar.
Guayabera A traditional four-pocket shirt worn by cigar makers throughout the Caribbean. The long sleeved version of the guayabera is considered formal enough to wear without a tie to a wedding.
Hand A hand of tobacco is a group of similar leaves, usually 20, that have been tied together at the bottom of their stems so that they are easy to transport within the factory.
Handmade A cigar that has been bunched and rolled entirely by hand.
Hand rolled A cigar in which the wrapper has been rolled onto the bunch by hand. Sometimes loosely used to designate a handmade cigar.
Head The end of the cigar that is clipped.
Hecho a mano Spanish for made by hand, denoting a hand rolled cigar.
Keep British term for a private cigar locker.
Lasioderma The dreaded tobacco beetle
Lieberman After a bunch is made by hand, it goes into this hand-operated bunching device which utilizes a rubber sheet to roll the filler up into the binder. This apparatus does not constitute a machine-made bunch.
Maduro The term given to describe a cigar with an ultra dark wrapper, traditionally of Connecticut Broadleaf or Ecuadoran Habano.
Mass-Market Cigar A generic term for a relatively low priced cigar that is made in extremely large quantities by machine.
Mulling Another term for fermentation, or the aging of tobacco leaves to bring them to color, from green to yellow to brown.
Mulling Room A fermentation or steam room, where the tobacco leaves are allowed to sweat.
Perfecto One of the all-time classic shapes: a straight cigar with a reverse flare, or tapered end.
Plume The crystallization of oils from the tobacco of a cigar; it takes on the appearance of a light grayish-white dust on the surface of the wrapper. It is not harmful; some even believe it is beneficial to a cigar's taste.
Puro A cigar whose filler, binder and wrapper are made with tobaccos that are all grown in the same country. For example, the Punch Gran Puro is a true puro; it is made with 100% Honduran tobacco. It would not be a puro if it had an imported U.S. grown Connecticut wrapper.
Premium Cigar A generic term for a high-grade, 100% tobacco, long filler, handmade cigar.
Priming This refers to the leafs position on the stalk of the tobacco plant. In the Dominican Republic, the filler leaves are called Ligero, Seco and Volado, with the ligero leaves at the top of the plant, seco in the center, and volado closest to the soil. In Central America these are called Volado, Seco, Viso. The volado is closest to the soil, the seco is on top of the volado leaves, and the viso leaves are located at the top of the plant. Also the act of harvesting the leaves of a tobacco plant.
Private Label Cigar A cigar that is made for just one company and which is sold exclusively by them.
Pyramid A cigar that gradually goes from a very narrow ring size at the head and flares out to a large foot. Almost always incorrectly referred to as a torpedo, which it is not.
Ring A unit of measurement divided into 1/64ths of an inch, used to calibrate the diameter of a cigar. Thus, a cigar that is a 32 ring is 32/64ths of an inch, or 1/2 inch thick.
Ring Gauge A handheld device, usually made of brass or wood, which features a hole that is pre-measured to a specific ring size. Completed cigars are passed through this hole to make sure they have been rolled to the correct diameter.
Shading A term used to describe the sorting of cigars by extremely slight variations in color, prior to boxing, for visual appeal.
Shed Large wooden-sided and straw-sided barn where harvested tobacco is hung for the air curing process.
Smokeasies A term originally coined by the author to generically describe any room or facility that caters strictly to cigar smokers, permitting them to light up and relax without incurring the wrathful glares of less sophisticated individuals. It is a modern-day version of the speakeasies of Prohibition infamy.
Smokers The term loosely applied to a "cigar smoking event." It can be a dinner, a cognac or whiskey and cigar tasting combined, or simply a randomly scheduled gathering where people from all walks of life get together to smoke a cigar, without regard to race, creed, religion or politics. Also called a herf.
Stogie Originally a long thin, inexpensive cigar, often with a twisted end. Now it has come to be a generic term to describe any cigar.
Stripping The act of hand striping the stem from the tobacco leaf, leaving approximately 1/3 of the stem in the leaf for filler tobacco. The entire center vein is removed for wrapper tobacco, resulting two separate leaves.
Super Premium Not a gasoline, but definitely a high-octane cigar. Normally priced substantially higher than even the premiums, and relying on image as well as good tobacco.
Tercio A square-wrapped bundle, made from the leaves of the Royal Palm that completely encases the burro of tobacco leaves for fermentation. This is an old Cuban technique, now used by General Cigar that enables the tobaccos to mature in their own natural oils while also continuing to breathe.
Torcedor Cuban term for a cigar roller. It means "one who twists" but is used almost exclusively for cigar making. Also know as a tabaquero.
Torpedo A cigar in which the body flares (widens) and then narrows near the tuck where it is to be lit.
Tuck The end of the cigar that is lit. Also known as the foot.
Vega Another word for plantation.
Wrap Set Box A cedar plywood box, in which you rarely see the wood because of the total coverage by labels and colorful border trimmings.
Wrapper The outermost leaf of a cigar that is rolled around the binder.