What makes a good premium cigar?
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
It isn't uncommon to hear a person ask for a good cigar or proclaim, "That's a good cigar!"
What, though makes a cigar good? A good cigar will be well made and easy to draw. It shouldn't fall apart or blow up on you, nor should you have to pull so hard your cheeks collapse.
The simple answer is smoke whacha like!
Premium cigars are each a coherent whole with three distinct components - filler, binder, and wrapper. CA does a good job of explaining the anatomy of a premium cigar:
The wrapper is the visible outer cover leaf. It’s also the most expensive component per pound, as these tobacco leaves need to be pristine in appearance, as well as flavorful. If the leaf is too veiny, rough in texture or has any blemishes, it’s no longer categorized as wrapper.
The binder can be considered a wrapper leaf that didn’t make the cut. It’s often the same tobacco as the wrapper, only not as smooth in appearance, and it doesn’t have to be—you don’t see it. Binder is the leaf of tobacco directly underneath the wrapper and holds the filler tobacco in place, hence the name. Combustion of the binder is critical, as a good-burning binder will often help the filler to burn more evenly, especially if the filler contains more oily tobaccos that do not burn easily.
The filler is where the cigarmaker can be most creative, as he can use several different types of tobacco from various countries and several different primings of tobacco for desired flavor, strength and complexity. As with the wrapper and binder, these are long-filler tobaccos that are put into place to burn slowly yet offer a fine gustatory and aromatic experience.
Solid construction can first be noticed when you look at and hold the cigar. There should be no noticeable defects (holes, mottling, heavy veins). The importance of touch is discussed by TU:
There is a lot to say about touch. First, it is the physical sensation of feeling. The way a cigar or pipe feels in the hand is paramount. With our hands we can sense whether a cigar or pipe tobacco is at the proper humidity. We can even use our fingers to determine the silkiness of a cigar wrapper as well as the firmness, construction, and much more. But the key to understanding touch, is realizing that it is not limited to the hands - we feel with our mouth, tongue, and nose as well.
One puffs a cigar! You don't inhale but can retrohale (pull some of the smoke from your mouth up through your nose,if you are able). This means there should only be a slight resistance when you are puffing. or an easy draw. TU explains the importance:
A great cigar must have an easy draw: straining to puff on a cigar will ruin the experience. Additionally, a plugged or tightly rolled cigar will Smoke Too Hot and not allow the flavors and aroma to develop properly. Many great cigars are firm to the touch, seemingly tight, but draw loosely and effortlessly: many connoisseurs would argue that this is a perfectly constructed cigar. While people may have their own draw preferences, everyone will agree that a tight draw is enough to ruin the years of effort and passion that went into creating the cigar.
Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman - or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.