"I am the smoker of the fine Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne Torpedo cigar, they are a medium to mild smoke. I buy them at Doc James Cigar & Golf in Shrub Oaks NY...." Ira

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A Layered Understanding of the Master Blender's Role

As with any fine food or spirit, the quality and proportion of a cigar's ingredients is what creates its taste and consistency. Master blenders spend much of their lives learning how the tobaccos used in each component of a cigar interact to provide different tastes and aromas. The skill of rolling a cigar is certainly important to the overall cohesiveness, yet it is the blending of different tobaccos used in the filler, binder and wrapper that ultimately determines the flavor, strength and draw of any cigar.

Tobacco leaves are harvested green and cured using a variety of techniques, some of which are specific to the region, species or family. The investment of care and time in the curing or ageing process plays the largest role in tobacco quality. Blenders often use both high and low quality tobaccos in different proportions with the goal of creating a fine smoke that is also affordable.

Wrapper Leaf

The highest quality leaves from various curing techniques are often kept intact for use as the outer layer of cigars. Wrappers tend to be the most expensive component, and they account for a large part of the cigar's taste, especially those of a smaller diameter. The growing process, species and curing time are all important aspects of the wrapper.

Maduro cigars, for instance, use a sun-grown wrapper with a long curing process that results in an oily wrap, visible veins and a strongly sweet taste. Oscuro is similar, but only the upper leaves are used for an even richer flavor. Claro cigars, on the other hand, impart a mild flavor with less oil. These leaves are shade-grown and slowly dried without a long cure.

Binder Leaf

Underneath the wrapper is a binder that holds the cigar's bulk together. Binder leaves are not visible, so they tend to be of lower quality and impart less flavor to the whole. It serves to maintain the cigar's shape and provide an even burn. Some blenders will choose a specific binder that augments the flavor of the wrapper or adds to the complexity of undertones.

Filler Tobacco

Blenders choose their filler tobacco based on cure quality and cut size. In thick cigars, the filler plays a larger role in the overall taste, and the blender may choose a higher-quality, long filler for both stronger taste and more consistent burning. Excess filler is cut from the cigar and used for short filler. Generally, long filler is used to create more expensive cigars. Both types of filler may be used in different proportions to create a variety of different flavors with the same tobacco.

Blenders use their advanced knowledge of the quality of various leaves and cut sizes to create cigars with consistent flavors, strengths and burn rates. Smokers often perceive the color or diameter of a cigar to play the largest role in its strength and flavor, but this is more often than not a misconception. The knowledge of an experienced smoker is a valuable resource for newcomers.