What Makes a Good-Quality Cigar?

What Makes a Good-Quality Cigar?

May 3 2024

Smoking cigars is an intriguing hobby with an intriguing history. We can trace the tobacco plant back to 2500 B.C. in South America, and its emergence in Europe resulted from Christopher Columbus being given tobacco leaves as a gift by the native Arawak people in 1492. The boom of cigar smoking in the United States came during the Civil War. Over time, the cigar became a symbol of status, social authority and freedom, and the same remains true today.

The surest way to enjoy your cigars is by investing in high-quality options that give off a rich aroma, have a smooth taste and deliver a good draw. With quality cigars, you can enjoy a luxurious and prestigious smoking experience. So, how do you choose a cigar? Below, we discuss various factors and features that can help beginners and veteran cigar smokers choose the best cigars online or from a store.

The Parts of a Good-Quality Cigar

A cigar has a few major parts that determine its appearance, taste and quality. The following are the major cigar parts you should check for when looking to choose a cigar:


Also known as the cap, the head is the end of the cigar you put in your mouth. It is sealed by adhesive or tobacco leaf, which keeps the wrapper intact as you smoke. You have to cut the head off in order to smoke. You should typically chop off the cap at the shoulders of the cigar — where the head tapers.

The taper shape varies between cigar types. Some have more rounded and gradual tapers, while others have sharper and more drastic tapers. You can also check for a faint line or seam. A guillotine is the best tool for cutting a cigar without smashing it, but a sharp knife can get the job done.


The foot is the end of the cigar that you light. It can be flat or tapered to provide different flavor profiles. To prevent uneven burning, you should toast the entire foot using a wide flame. Before you start smoking, check that the entire foot circumference burns and that you have a red-orange cherry at the end when you blow gently at the foot.


The filler is the heart of a cigar and holds most of the taste and aroma. It's made of a consistent blend of fermented, dried tobacco expertly bunched to balance the draw and burn.

A well-blended selection of tobacco leaves is layered to provide intensity and ensure a slow burn. There are two types of tobacco fillings used in cigars, determined by the length of filler leaves:

  • Long-filler: Long-filler tobacco consists of high-quality leaves used for rolling handmade tobacco.
  • Short-filler: These are low-quality tobacco leaves cut into smaller pieces that are used for rolling machine-made cigars.

Long-filler tobacco is generally considered superior. It offers a more complex taste and burns more evenly.


The binder is a tobacco leaf used between the filler and wrapper layers of a cigar. It's often thicker and stronger than the wrapper and used to hold the filling securely, shape the cigar and help it maintain its structural integrity. The binder also seals in the flavor and maintains the density for a superior and more consistent burn.


The wrapper is the outer layer of the cigar that gives it its shape, appearance, flavor and taste. Wrapper selection determines the quality of the cigar and helps manufacturers distinguish their cigars from others on the market. Wrappers are the most delicate and expensive tobacco leaves that differ in color, thickness and texture.

High-quality cigars are made using consistently colored, smooth and blemish-free wrappers free of heavy veins. It's also important to select sturdy and clean wrappers that are oily and shiny. The cigar wrapper colors vary from light to dark and determine the flavor profiles. For example, Maduro wrappers are dark brown, which provides a rich and sweet flavor, while Claro wrappers are light tan and offer a mild flavor and slightly sweet taste.


The band is an identifying cigar feature that manufacturers use to capture a potential customer's attention. It's wrapped close to the cigar's head, contains information about the brand and acts as a status symbol. Cigar bands are made of foil or paper printed with the company logo and name.

When placed at the foot of the cigar, it's good practice to remove the band before smoking to prevent it from burning. Consider removing it after smoking for a few minutes to allow the heat to soften, making it easier to slip it off.

What Makes a Cigar Good?

Many features contribute to a high-quality cigar. Below are the top features to help you understand how to judge a cigar's quality in the flooded marketplace.

Taste and Flavor

Tobacco is flavorful, intense and strong, and this is exactly what you should get from a high-quality cigar. Cigar flavors vary in intensity, and different smokers prefer different flavor profiles and intensities. The best cigars have a smooth and balanced flavor despite varying in intensity from light and mild to strong. The flavors typically range from sweet, spicy, nutty, zesty and tangy to savory, earthy and leathery.

Light- and medium-bodied cigars are better for beginners because they provide excellent strength and flavor balance. Light-bodied cigars produce fruity and floral aromas, while medium-bodied cigars have woody, spicy and leathery aromas. Established cigar smokers typically prefer full-bodied cigars, which have richer and more intense woody, earthy and spicy flavors.

Another indication of a high-quality cigar is the smell, which often gives away the taste. A sniff test helps evaluate and determine the aroma of the cigar. Cigar etiquette dictates that you hold it at least a few inches away from your nose and wave it, holding it by the band to inhale the aroma.

The flavor and taste of cigars depend on the soil, growing conditions, harvesting, fermentation, blending and aging processes of tobacco. Some cigars have a distinctively different taste when infused with different flavors, such as cocoa, citrus, vanilla and cinnamon. Because taste is a subjective quality, the best-tasting cigar ultimately depends on personal preferences.


A box of good-quality cigars should be consistent in appearance, taste, smell, construction and quality. This should be the case whether you buy a pack of hand-rolled or machine-made cigars. A few signs of cigar consistency include:

  • Even burn: A good-quality cigar burns evenly all the way down. While you also have a role to play, which includes burning the foot properly, an even burn ultimately depends on consistent rolling and good construction. Falling ash is a sign of a poorly constructed cigar. In addition, when the ash falls off, you should be left with a cone shape depicting good-quality center leaves.
  • Rolling consistency: A well-constructed cigar is smooth and even throughout. You can test the evenness by rolling the cigar between your index finger and thumb and assessing for lumps or divots. A good-quality cigar should not feel dry or flaky — this means it will be bitter — and neither should it feel brittle because this indicates it will break apart or burn unevenly.
  • Color consistency: A consistent color throughout the cigar's exterior, without blemishes or slouchy colors, indicates high-quality cigars. Be wary of cigars with blemishes, discoloration or spots.
  • Body consistency: The cigar's body should be firm and consistently filled. It should not have voids or be too soft. An uneven cigar body or rough texture is a sign of bad construction, which results in a poor draw and deters the shape and length of the ash.

Good Construction

The method of cigar construction determines its overall quality and its look, feel and taste. Cigar construction refers to how it is filled and wrapped, which affects the draw and burn.

A high-quality cigar is packed to perfection and is neither underfilled nor overfilled. An underfilled cigar gives you an easy draw but burns faster than desired. It may burn your lips because of excess internal heat and has a harsh taste and aroma. An overfilled cigar packs the tobacco too closely, making the draw difficult and giving a muted taste.

There are three main cigar categories that impact the smoking experience. These include:

  • Premium hand-rolled: These are made using outstanding craftsmanship and have a soft, smooth taste. Hand-rolled cigars are often more expensive and taste better than other selections.
  • Machine-made: These are mass-produced cigars rolled using crafting machines that make them tight and compact. They are affordable and more suitable for beginners.
  • Cigarillos: These are tiny cigars rolled using machines that are shorter and narrower than regular cigars. They boast more flavor varieties but don't burn as evenly.

Good cigar construction produces full-bodied cigars with a depth of flavor and taste. Poor construction may cause the cigar to fall apart in your mouth and affect the burn and draw. The construction determines the size of a cigar, which also affects its flavor. Generally, wider cigars have a less concentrated flavor and take longer to smoke. Longer cigars also take longer to smoke, but they burn for considerably longer.

Additionally, cigar shape also differs widely. The shape is determined by the ring gauge, which is the cigar's diameter based on 1/64 of an inch. For example, pajeros are cigars with straight sides, while figurados have irregular shapes.

Storage Conditions

The storage conditions of cigars affect their taste and quality. Cigars need to be stored in humid conditions to maintain the desired level of moisture in the tobacco. Extremely dry storage conditions dry the cigar, resulting in the loss of flavor and aroma. On the other hand, too much humidity may cause the cigar to rot, form mold and taste stale. Excess moisture also affects how a cigar lights and its relighting potential. 

You can determine the condition of the cigar by examining its wrapper, which should have a luster or sheen and no tears. Peeling or cracking of wrapping are signs of poorly constructed and low-quality cigars. How you store your cigars after purchasing also determines how long and well they hold on to their taste and aroma. Premium cigar humidors maintain the humidity and moisture levels of cigars, refining the flavors with each passing day.

Tobacco Quality

Cigars are made from fermented tobacco leaves in humid conditions until they become mellow with flavor. Seasoned cigar smokers say that tobacco quality determines how much they enjoy a cigar.

Tobacco quality is not often easy to tell by visually looking at a cigar. Cigars typically have different types of tobacco throughout their length, which means the flavor may start off mild and grow stronger as you continue smoking.

You can get a sneak peek at the quality of tobacco by looking at the color of the wrappers, which vary from dark to light hues. The rehydration and fermentation processes often determine the color of the tobacco. The colors range from tans, browns, dark browns and light green to black. Darker colors mean that the tobacco has been fermented but don't necessarily mean that the flavor is stronger.

The reputation of the manufacturing company is another signal of the quality of the tobacco. Bigger and more reputable cigar brands use higher-quality tobacco because they have the resources to purchase it. Cohiba, Ashton Classic, Montecristo, Diamond Crown and Camaco are some of the best cigar manufacturers that use premium tobacco.

Perceived Value

Cigar prices vary wildly depending on the perceived value of the cigar brand. The prices range widely but are not always an indication of quality. The price and perceived value are influenced by various factors, including age, rarity, size, shape, construction and packaging. Hand-rolled cigars are more expensive than machine-made alternatives, and they understandably employ a high level of craftsmanship and deliver complex flavors.

Often, you'll save some coins by purchasing quality cigars online rather than from conventional stores. The latter may charge more because of the many overhead costs they incur that online stores avoid. Additionally, many online sellers use a drop shipping model in which distributors send the cigars directly to you, saving on sundry costs.

Get Premium Quality Cigars From Corona Cigar Company

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We offer a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with your purchases. We give you the best deals for hundreds of different international and famous cigar and cigar accessories brands. Explore our extensive inventory to find your new favorite cigar. You can also contact us if you have any more questions about how to select the best quality cigar.