Cigar Terms By Stinky

Definitions from Stinky’s Cigar-Book Library are an alphabetical listing of the “Cigar Language” you may need and/or find interesting.

Cigar Terms

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, although this is no longer the case; see also EMS (English Market Selection) or Colorado and SMS (Spanish Market Selection or Maduro.

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

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

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

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

Band: the small signature label wrapped around the cigar near its head; also known as the “ring”

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

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 manufacturers 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)

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

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

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

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

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

Boîte nature: plain cedar-box packaging without vistas or other trimmings

Bouquet: the smell of tobacco when you open a cigar box, the smell of fine cigars (see also aroma)

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.

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

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

Bulk: a large pile or stack of tobacco leaves ready for fermentation

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.

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.

Burro: Cuban term for the bales of tobacco in which leaf fermentation occurs; a large stack or pile of tobacco leaves for fermentation.

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!

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

Candela: another term for claro claro or double claro; see also AMS (American Market Selection)

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

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

Capa: wrapper; literally, “cape” or “ cloak” in Spanish

Capote: binder in Spanish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Curley Head: a method of finishing the head of a cigar by giving the tobacco there a quick twist.

Desbotonar: the process of trimming the suckers off of the tobacco plant so that more strength goes into the main leaves.

Despililladora: a stripper; the female worker in the fảbrica who strips the stems out of the leaves.

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.

Divan: a private smoking room or club.

Double Claro: the lightest-shade wrapper; same as claro claro or candela.

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

Dress Box: the opposite of a cabinet box, the dress bos is amply decorated with labels and other trimmings that cover the wood.

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

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 in and become square in shape

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

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

Fảbrica: a cigar factory

Fancy Tail: another name for the Curly Head

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

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 piramide, perfectos, and culebras

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”

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

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

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

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

Freezing: common method used to kill the tobacco beetle, or the larva before they hatch; recommendations for freezing cigars include sealing in an air tight bag in an extremely low temperature of minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 days (72 hours); note: this is a MUCH lower temperatures than your home refrigerator-freezer will go; then move to a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees for 24 hours so that the wrapper leaf does not crack due to the drastic temperature increase, then keep the cigars in ‘room temperature’ for 24 hours before smoking

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

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

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

Gavilla: a roller’s allotment of tobacco, usually enough for twenty-five to fifty cigars

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

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

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

Habanos, S.A.: the Cuban government company that manufactures and exports Havana cigars

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

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

Handmade: a cigar manufactured entirely by hand

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

Hencho a Mano: Spanish for made by hand

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marble Head: a cigar that has a rounded head (see also Flat Head)

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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”

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: “pantela”

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

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

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

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

Piloto Cubano: Cuban-seed Dominican-grown tobacco

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

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

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

Ring: the small paper label that is wrapped around the cigar and is its signature; also known as the band

Ring Gauge: 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

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

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

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!

Seco: one of the three types of tobacco leaves used for 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

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

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

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

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

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 1867 by a tobacco merchant named George W. Black in Washington, Pennsylvania as an inexpensive smoke for the teamsters and settlers heading west

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

Tercio: a bale of fermented tobacco wrapped in palm bark ready for aging and/or shipment to the factory

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)

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

Torpedo: a shaped cigar that is wide in the middle and narrow at each end

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

Whiff: a Dutch-type cigar that is smaller than a cigarillo

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

Vega: a tobacco plantation or farm

Veguero: a tobacco planter or farmer

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

Vitola: the band or ring of a cigar

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

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