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Glossary of Cigar & Pipe Terms

The largest standard cigar size is an "A" which is also known as a Gran Corona (see photo). The standard for an "A" is 9 1/4 inches long by 47 ring gauge, but some non-Cuban "A's" have slightly different dimensions. The most famous example is the Montecristo "A" from Cuba. All "A's" take a very long time to smoke, perhaps as much as two hours.

Air-cured tobacco is hung in well-ventilated barns immediately after plants are cut or leaves pulled from the field and allowed to dry for a period of one to two months. During this process the yellow colors of the leaf turn to varying shades of brown, until they are ready to be fermented and processed. Burley is an air-cured tobacco.

The smell of a burning cigar or pipe.

A type of tobacco which is either cased or top flavored in order to produce a taste and room note other than the tobacco's natural smell, whether simply sugar or molasses, whiskey or other alcohols, or many other flavorings. Used as a major category for pipe tobaccos, along with non-aromatic and latakia based blends.

The remains of a burnt cigar or pipe tobacco.

Paper placed around the cigar, usually near the head, originally used to protect white gloves from tobacco stains. Merchants quickly seized the idea and began using it as a place to put their brand name. Allowing them to differentiate their cigars from their competitors.

The body of the cigar.

Now generally represented by two straight lines around the bowl of a bulldog or rhodesian, a bead is one of only three shapes which can be produced on a lathe, along with a flat and a cove. A bead is a rounded projection from the wood, and in the case of pipes today most beads are cut as inset beads, in that the surrounding wood is level with the top of the bead. Older pipes occasionally featured intricately carved beads. Today, however, rather than cutting a true bead the projection is left flat and only signified by the lines around it./p>

A single leaf of tobacco wrapped around the filler to hold it together.

A less than precise term, usually used to refer to the entirety of the stem or mouthpiece on a pipe, but occasionally also used to refer to the bite zone.

The mixture of tobaccos used in the cigar that provides each cigar with its unique character.

Also referred to as plume, bloom is a fine white powder which appears on well aged tobacco on occasion, and despite the tendency to confuse it with mold is actually a good sign that the leaf is maturing well. Bloom is caused by the crystallization of sugars on the surface of the tobacco leaf

The main or middle part of the cigar.

The smell of an unlit cigar.

An active humidification system for keeping accurate humidity within your humidor.

The container used to package cigars. Traditional styles include:
Cabinet Selection - wood box with a sliding top, designed to hold 25 or 50 cigars.
8-9-8 - round-sided box designed to hold three rows of cigars with eight on the top, nine in the middle and eight on the bottom.
Flat Top or 13-topper - Flat rectangular box which is the most common container used today. This package holds 13 cigars on the top and 12 on the bottom.
Chest - typically holds 50-cigars

The large piles of tobacco leaves as they undergo fermentation.

Refers to the cigar when it consists of the filler and the binder, before the application of the wrapper leaf.

Packaging method which uses cellophane overwrap on 25 or 50 cigars traditionally without bands. Bundles are usually cheaper than boxed cigars, and contain seconds of premium cigars.

A term used to refer to a possible condition in estate pipes which, short of extraordinary effort on the part of a capable restorer, generally means the death of a particular pipe. A burnout is a spot where char has actually penetrated or begun to penetrate the outer layer of the bowl. Usually caused by hot smoking, although some claim burnout is always the fault of an unseen flaw in the briar. Uneven packing can also result in one spot suffering more damage than others. While most smokers stop smoking a particular pipe when burnout begins to appear, some continue smoking until they have burned straight through a wall or the foot of the pipe.

Cake refers to the buildup of residual carbon that forms in the bowl of a pipe. Most recommend trimming back the buildup to keep it at roughly the width of a dime in a briar pipe in order to create a protective layer which cools the pipe and reduces moisture. Cake is frowned upon in meerschaums, and the subject of much debate among corn cob pipe smokers.

The circular piece of wrapper leaf placed at the head of the cigar to secure the wrapper.

Professional cigar taster who determines a cigar's qualities of aroma, taste and texture.

Charlie Minato is an industry-famous blogger from - Charlie refers to someone who can over classify the flavours of a cigar.

For Charlie Minato is famous for coming up with some of the most elaborate flavour notes of any cigar smoked.

There are two forms of Cavendish, which is more a process of curing and a method of cutting tobacco than a type of it. Common cavendish is made when tobacco leaves are pressed into a cake about an inch thick and heated before being allowed to ferment, resulting in a mild and sweet tobacco. Flavouring is often added before the leaves are pressed. English Cavendish uses a dark flue or fire cured Virginia , which is steamed and then stored under pressure to permit it to cure and ferment for several days or weeks.

The knife used in a cigar factory for cutting the wrapper leaf.

The lit/burning face of a cigar.

A large corona format cigar, usually 7 inches long with a 48 ring gauge named after Winston Churchill who liked large cigars.

According to the A.S.P. Pipe Parts Charts by Bill Burney, the churchwarden is the only pipe defined by the shape of its stem, rather than its bowl. Whether bent or straight, the stem on a churchwarden is 9 to 18 inches long, but not so long as to make lighting the pipe while holding it in the mouth impossible.

That's you, right? With time and experience, you will become a fine cigar aficionado.

A term used to refer to a single slice of tobacco cut from a rope or twist, and resembling a flake, except that it is round and often thinner.

A traditionally-proportioned cigar measuring 5 1/2 to 6 inches by 42 to 44 ring gauge.

A long robusto format 5 1/2 inches with a 46 ring gauge.

An exotic cigar consisting of three panatelas that are braided together to form one cigar.

The process of removing moisture from freshly harvested tobacco.

Pipe tobacco may be cut as shag, ribbon, flake, plug, rope, discs, coins, or in other forms. These terms simply refer to the manner in which the finished product is reduced into a small enough size to consume. The most common cut is ribbon cut.

Filler tobacco consisting of chopped pieces most common in machine-made cigars.

A device for clipping the end off a cigar. Some resemble scissors with curved blades; others look like small guillotines for making a straight or V-shaped notch. In addition one variety looks like a .44 magnum bullet and another a fountain pen, they pull apart to reveal a punch that cuts a round hole in the end of the cigar.

A small cigar around 4 inches by a 30 ring gauge.

Cigar with dimensions of 7 1/2 to 8 inches by a large gauge of 49 to 52.

The flow of smoke from a cigar. It can be too easy (hot) or too tight (plugged)

The tobacco that makes up the center of the cigar. There are two main types of filler, short and long.

A Spanish term that refers to cigars with exotic sizes, such as torpedos, pyramids, perfectos and culebras.

An alternative to a cap. The flag method of finishing a cigar involves shaping the wrapper leaf at the head of the cigar so that it secures the wrapper. Sometimes, it is tied off in a pigtail or curly head.

Flake tobacco is made by slicing thin sheets off of a cube, which in turn is formed by pressing whole tobacco leaves into a compressed form, usually under significant pressure for long periods of time. Flake tobacco may be sold in slices, or fully or partially broken or rubbed out.

FOOT (cigar)
Also called the "tuck," it's the part of the cigar that is lit.

FOOT (pipes)
The bottom of the outside of the bowl, as opposed to the heel, which is the bottom of the inside of the bowl.

The room in which cigars are rolled at the factory.

A ghost is the taste or smell of a previously smoked tobacco remaining in a pipe and coloring the taste of a different blend smoked in the same pipe. Generally the cause of tar in the shank, but usually blamed on cake.

A vegetable adhesive used to secure the head of the wrapper leaf around the finished bunch.

The basic features that define a guayabera are: Either two or four patch pockets on the shirt front. Two vertical rows of either small pleats (actually called tuxes) and/or embroidery. Straight hem meant to be worn untucked. Most commonly worn by cigar personalities in Central America.
One of the primary independent cigar-industry blog sites; a great source for breaking news; new releases by year (and a constant entertainment source of Charlie's amazing flavour note reviews).

Individual leaves of tobacco that are hung together after harvest and tied at the top. These hands are piled together to make a bulk for fermentation.

A cigar that is bunched, bound and wrapped entirely by hand.

A cigar made entirely by hand with high quality wrapper and long filler.

The end of the cigar that is placed in the mouth.

No one really knows the true origins of this term, click here to read more on the fine subject. Quickly put, a HERF refers to a group of like-minded cigar smokers gathering to enjoy fine cigars, libations and chat.

A cigar which has a quick, loose draw. This is caused by the cigar being underfilled. It is usually accompanied by harsh flavors.

A box (but actually an environment) used to store or age cigars. Like a wine cellar, the box is fitted with devices to control temperature and humidity. The ideal environment should be 70 degrees F and 70% relative humidity.

A type of Turkish tobacco with rich flavor, low nicotine, and cool smoke. It has a very aromatic nature and is often blended with Latakia to somewhat subdue this property. Primarily used as a condiment with pipe tobacco, but occasionally offered by itself. Also called Smyrna.

One of three types of filler tobacco. This aromatic tobacco adds body to a cigar blend. Ligero means light in Spanish.

Whole leaves selected and rolled by hand to create a looser and easier draw of smoke.

A cigar typically 6 1/4 inches by a 42 or 44 ring gauge.

Cigars made entirely by machine. Heavier weight binders and wrappers are generally used and cut filler is used in place of long filler.

A mineral hydrous magnesium silicate called sepiolite, primarily found in Turkey near Eskisehr, which is used in the making of tobacco pipes. The word means "seafoam".

The term used to refer to a tobacco blend's property to acquire a single homogeneous taste over time, as a result of aging in an airtight container.

The device used in making cigars that gives shape to a finished bunch.
Also, a fungis, which is potentially damaging, that forms on cigars when they are stored at too high a temperature.

Oils and resins found in tobacco that give it its smoking qualities.

A widely-varying cigar format ranging from 5 to 7 inches with a gauge from 34 to 38.

A cigar with a rounded head and a closed foot.

A short corona format usually 4 1/2 inches by a 40 ring gauge.

A tight spot in a cigar that prevents a proper draw.

A high grade cigar made by hand from 100% tobacco long leaf filler typically from Central America (as opposed to a Cuban Cigar, made solely in Cuba).

Whole leaf, pressed with moisture, becomes a plug, from which flakes can be sliced. Plug tobacco is prepared by slicing off and then rubbing out pieces of the block of tobacco.

Term used to refer to a cigar with poor or no "draw" - sometimes can be remedied by cutting more off the cap; rolling the cigar firmly or even using a spike through the centre of the cigar

A cigar whose filler, binder and wrapper come from the same country.

A cigar with an open foot and a tapered head.

Trimming back cake from the bowl of a tobacco pipe.

The diameter of a cigar is referred to as the ring gauge. It is a measurement equal to 1/64 of an inch. A 64 ring gauge would be one inch in thickness and a 32 ring gauge would be 1/2 inch thick.

A short churchill format typically 5 to 5 1/2 inches by a ring gauge of 50.

Highly skilled artisans who apply the wrapper to the bunch.

Spanish meaning "dry". This filler contributes aroma and is of medium-body.

Tobacco, usually the wrapper leaf of a cigar. For mildness, the wrapper is grown under tents and is not exposed to sunlight.

Tobacco grown under a canopy or tent producing a thinner, more elastic leaf used in the wrapper.

Used on such cigars as Drew Estate's Nica Rustica line and A.J.Fernandez's Last Calls - this is an un-trimmed foot; often makes lighting the cigar much easier

Chopped scraps of leaves hand-rolled, but more likely machine-rolled, to create a tight hard draw of smoke.

A 5-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, such as a robusto, should provide anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of smoking pleasure. A double corona, a 7 1/2-inch cigar with a 50 ring gauge, may give over an hour's worth of smoking time. A thinner cigar, such as a lonsdale, smokes in less time than a cigar with a 50 ring gauge.

As long as the Internet has been alive, Steve (El Jefe) Saka has been providing industry information; from the early days of debunking Cuban Box Codes (Cigar Nexus) through to his Presidency of Drew Estate Cigars and on to his own personal cigar Company, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust - Steve has been a constant shining light in the industry.

One thing can be said for Saka, he has never waivered on quality and that can be seen today through all of his exquisite lines produced at Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust.

Tobacco which is grown in direct sunlight. This creates thicker veins and a thicker leaf.

A tool used to tamp a pipe, generally with a flat end designed for that purpose and a handle. A tamper can be as simple as a piece of dowel or as ornate as the buyer may wish. While it seems inconsequential, tamping is important both for the care of the pipe and the coolness of the smoke.

That would be Grant "The Cigar Merchant" Ovenden, New Zealand's very own importer, distributor and retailer of new-world, Premium cigars. With over 20 years industry experience, there's nothing he cannot source for you. Got a question, he'll most likely know the answer.

The tenon is the smaller diameter protrusion at the end of a pipe stem which holds the stem to the stummel. It takes its name from one of the oldest joints in woodworking, the mortise and tenon joint. Over the last two centuries tenons have been made separately with bone screws, cut integrally into a vulcanite stem to fit a cut mortise in the stummel, made from threaded aluminum or plastic, made from aluminum to fit a pre-drilled mortise so as to hold a filter, made from delrin and placed into a drilled hole in the stem, and in other fashions as well.

Small bumps which texture the wrapper on a cigar. Typically found on Cameroon wrappers but also found on all fine cigars; it's just a texture thing.

Title earned by the master cigar rollers.

A cigar with a closed head and a closed foot.

A cigar that is placed in a tube. Most tubes are aluminum while some are glass.

The rib of the tobacco leaf. A quality cigar should not be too veined.

A type of filler tobacco chosen for its burning qualities.

The outermost tobacco leaf of the cigar.


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