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Cigar, Unwrapped

From seed to smoking: deconstructing the cigar.

Why does a good handmade cigar cost money? You're paying for the gifts of nature combined with the art of the cigar maker. Herewith is the anatomy of a cigar, from top to bottom.

Cap: The covering at the mouth-end of the cigar.

Filler: The guts of a cigar, where the art of the roller is most critical. It must be tight enough to burn evenly but loose enough to draw easily.

Ring Gauge: Measures the girth of a cigar in increments of 1/64th of an inch. The fatter the cigar, the fuller the flavor potential.

Wrapper: The outer wrapping of the cigar, responsible for about 80% of the flavor. A good wrapper is supple, has no protruding veins, and a silky feel.

Binder: Holds the inner leaves together in a tightly rolled bunch.

Foot: The end of the cigar that you light.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb/Mar 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.