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Welcome to cigar basics! Here at Cigars International, we want to provide you with the best cigar experience possible, whether you are seeking to learn about cigars, need help selecting a great cigar to smoke, or just want to find the best deals on cigars, consider us your personal cigar concierge. In this particular article, we are going to walk you through all of the cigar basics, including what makes up a cigar, what are the different parts of a cigar, how are cigars measured, common cigar terminology, and much more. Without further ado, let’s jump in!
A cigar is made up of fermented tobacco leaves which are bunched and rolled into a cylindrical shape. To fully visualize the cigar, we will start with the tobacco seed. Tobacco seeds are planted generally in a tropical environment for ideal growing conditions. Some of the most prominent farming regions include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, the USA (Connecticut and Pennsylvania), Central African Republic (Cameroon), and Indonesia. The tobacco growing season takes 18 weeks. From seed to cigar, it takes between 2 - 3 years. You can go much more in depth in the process of growing tobacco in our article From Tobacco to Cigar.
Now that we have tobacco leaves, we can start to build the cigar. There are three main components that make up a cigar: the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. The filler is comprised of a group of approximately 6 leaves that are combined in the binder leaf to create a “bunch.” Finally, the wrapper leaf is wrapped around the outside as the finishing touch. Once a cigar is complete, it can be broken down into four parts: the cap (or tip), the head, the body, and the foot. The cap is the part you cut off, and the foot is the part that you light. To learn more about the process of creating cigars, check out our other articles on cigar rolling and cigar wrappers.
Generally speaking, all cigars are more or less the same in appearance: long and cylindrical. This shape is generally referred to as a parejo, meaning parallel in Spanish. The other shape cigars are categorized in is called figurado. Although many popular figurado shapes (such as Torpedos, Perfectos, etc.) are available, the vast majority of premium cigars sold today are parejos.
Before we dive into all the specific sizes and shapes, it’s a good idea to understand how cigars are measured, since the name can be different depending on what brand you are looking at. 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 3/4 of an inch thick (48/64). You can learn more about ring gauges and reference our handy chart by visiting our cigar ring gauges article.
Parejos (Straight Barrel)
We hope this will give you a good jumping off point in the beginning of your cigar journey! But don’t stop here, as there is much more to learn and appreciate about cigars. We recommend checking out Humidors for Beginners or our compilation of articles that explain cigar accessories as these will be the most helpful in getting you fully set up.