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How to Choose a Cigar

Jesse Spitzer

How to choose a cigar

John Wayne. General Patton. JFK. Arnold Schwarzenegger. These are just a few of the great men of history who have have smoked cigars. A past-time of those who dared change the course of history or stamp their mark on our culture.

Let’s get into the components of a cigar and what makes each one different. 


The wrapper is the large leaf that drapes the outside of the cigar. Much of the flavor comes from the wrapper. Some popular types of wrapper include Connecticut (this leaf tends to carry a mild flavor), Habano (bold and spicy), and Maduro (often produces a sweeter flavor in the manner of chocolate). Although not always, the type of wrapper used on the cigar can often indicate what the strength and general flavor profile of the cigar is going to be. Beginners may want to tread carefully and start with a mild cigar such as a Davidoff or Macanudo.

Tobacco leaves hung to dry


The binder is the conduit between the long-filler tobacco inside the cigar and the wrapper on the outside. It is what helps the cigar to burn smoothly and evenly, as well as allowing the wrapper to drape smoothly around the cigar. This is normally the lowest quality component of a cigar, although it can be higher quality in ultra-premium sticks.

Filler Tobacco

Most hand-made cigars use long-filler tobacco (leaves that run the length of the cigar), though some may use the trimmings from a myriad of cigars rolled in that factory. They may include both long and short-filler tobaccos. These mixed-filler cigars are known as Cuban-sandwiches. Machine-made cigars will almost always exclusively use short-filler. Some filler tobacco types are Ligero, the boldest tobacco that utilizes the leaves from the top of the plant, Seco, which is medium-to-light bodied and uses leaves from the middle of the plant, and Volado, which is the most mild and are the lowest on the plant.

Cap & Foot
The cap is the closed end of the cigar where you use the cutter to clip and open up the cigar for smoking. A good premium cigar will have a solid cap which does not cause the wrapper to unravel when clipping.

The foot is the end of the cigar where you light.


The vitola is the shape and size of a cigar. Most cigar blends come in many different vitolas because the shape determines how the cigar will taste. You can take the exact same tobaccos and make various sizes, and they will all taste slightly different. Cigars are measures in inches tall x diameter. For example, a 6 x 50 cigar would 6” tall x 50/64th of an inch.
Some popular sizes are:
  • Corona, short and thin, example size 5” x 42 (a favorite size of ours here at Jesse Spitzer)
  • Robusto, short and medium-gauge, example 5” x 50
  • Torpedo, Varies.
  • Box-pressed, varies. 

Some stogies we recommend:


  • Davidoff Signature Petit Corona
  • Avo Classic
  • Montecristo White
  • Ashton Classic

  • Oliva G Torpedo
  • Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story
  • Caldwell Blind Man’s Bluff Robusto
  • New World Puro Especial Robusto


  • Oliva V Melanio Corona 
  • Alec Bradley Prensado Robusto
  • Man O’ War Puro Authentico Corona 
  • Cao Brazilia Robusto 
  • Padron 1926 Corona 

You’ll learn your preferences as you go along, but these are some of our favorites. We hope you enjoyed this primer on choosing a cigar best suited to your tastes. Maybe one day you’ll be written about as having made your mark on the world alongside the other great cigar smokers of history. Happy smoking!

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