GLOSSARY OF THE MAIN CUBAN TOBACCO TERMS

  • ANILLA: The Cuban word for a cigar band or ring (known in Spain as a ‘vitola’).
  • ACOPIO Y BENEFICIO: The process of gathering and improving tobacco leaves after they are harvested up to the point when they are placed in bales to mature.
  • BOQUILLA: The foot of the cigar.
  • CAPA: The outside wrapper leaf of a Habano.
  • CAPOTE: The binder leaf. Selected from the largest and finest volado leaves grown on the lower part of the plant.
  • CASA DE TABACO: Tobacco House or Curing Barn on a plantation where the leaf is cured and the first fermentation of fillers and binders takes place.
  • CATADORES: The tasters who daily test cigars at the factories.
  • CEDROS: Cedars used to wrap cigars and as dividers between rows in boxes.
  • CEPO: The template used to check the ring gauge and length of a finished cigar.
  • CHAVETA: The semi-circular blade used by the torcedores to cut tobacco leaves in the factory.
  • CLARO: The description of a light brown coloured wrapper on a finished cigar.
  • COLORADO: The description of a dark brown wrapper on a finished cigar.
  • CURACIÓN: Curing, the drying process that the leaves undergo in the Casa de Tabaco.
  • DESPALILLO: The Stripping House where selected binder and filler leaves have their stems part-stripped and where second fermentation of the volado and binder leaves and the second and third fermentation of the seco, ligero and medio tiempo leaves take place.
  • EDICIÓN LIMITADA: Limited Edition. Special productions of Habanos made annually using fillers, binders and wrappers aged at least 2 years before the cigars are made. The wrappers come from the top leaves of the shade-grown (tapado) tobacco plant, which are darker in colour. Each Habano is dressed with an extra band.
  • ESCAPARATE: The conditioning room where Habanos are stored at 16 to 18°C and between 65 and 70 percent humidity to recover from the rigours of the making process.
  • ESCOGEDORES: -colour graders-who work in pairs at the factory to colour-match the wrappers in any box or bundle of Habanos.
  • ESCOGIDA: The Sorting House where the classification of all leaves – wrappers, fillers and binders – takes place and also the site of the fermentation for the wrapper leaves. The name also describes the process in the factory where the finished Habanos are graded into different colours and shades for boxing.
  • FIGURADO: A cigar with an irregular shape pointed at one end or double-figurado pointed at both ends.
  • FORTALEZA: Literally strength. Fortaleza 1, 2, 3 and 4 are synonyms for volado, seco, ligero and medio tiempo.
  • GALERA: The factory workshop where cigars are made by hand. Literally the gallery.
  • GAVILLA: A bunch of graded tobacco leaves tied by their stems for handling.
  • GOMA: Tasteless and odourless vegetable gum, usually tragacanth, used by torcedores to secure the wrapper leaf and cap on a finished cigar.
  • GRAN RESERVA: Special productions of Habanos that are released very occasionally in small quantities. The term applies only to Habanos whose fillers, binders and wrappers have all been aged for at least 5 years before being rolled at the factory. They are identified by a second band on the cigars in black and gold colours.
  • HABANOS: The official Denominación de Origen Protegida (D.O.P.), or Protected Denomination of Origin used only to describe the most outstanding brands of cigars, which are manufactured in Cuba to the most exacting standards established by the Regulatory Council, from tobaccos grown only in particular areas of the island that are also protected as Denominations of Origin.
  • HABANO SOMMELIER: The waiter in a bar or restaurant skilled in the art of selecting and serving Habanos as well as recommending matches with drinks or other products like coffee, tea or even chocolate. A contest to find the world’s best Habano sommelier is staged as part of the Festival del Habano each year.
  • HABILITACIONES: The colourful dressings used to decorate the traditional labelled boxes of Habanos.
  • HECHO EN CUBA: Made in Cuba.
  • LA CASA DEL HABANO: La Casa del Habano is the name of a network of retail cigar stores franchised by Habanos s.a. There are over 140 La Casa del Habano stores throughtout the world.
  • LECTOR: Reader who entertains the Torcedores while they work.
  • LIGADOR: The master blender in a Habanos factory.
  • LIGERO: One of the tiempos or families of filler leaves. The world translates as light although it is used to describe the leaves taken from the top of the plant that are rich in flavor and usually dark in colour. Fortaleza 3.
  • MADURO: Literally ‘ripe. The description of a very dark brown, almost black, wrapper on a finished cigar.
  • MANCUERNA: The method of harvesting tobacco leaves using a knife to cut the stems in sections with two leaves attached as opposed to the leaf by leaf or ensarte method.
  • MEDIA RUEDA: Literally “Half wheel”, the description of 50 Habanos tied into a bundle.
  • MEDIO TIEMPO: One of the tiempos or families of filler leaves. This one describes the fullest flavoured leaves found only amongst the top two leaves on a sun-grown plant. Very rare. Fortaleza 4.
  • PACAS: Hessian bales in which binder and filler leaves are aged.
  • PAREJO: A cigar with straight, parallel sides.
  • PERILLA: The head of the cigar.
  • PINAR DEL RÍO: The name of the region that embraces all of the important growing zones in the west of Cuba, and the name of the provincial capital. A Protected Denomination of Origin.
  • REMEDIOS: Cuba’s oldest tobacco producing region and a protected Denomination of Origin. It is the source of the leaf for one particular Habano brand: José L Piedra.
  • RESERVA: Special productions of Habanos that are released from time to time in small quantities. The term applies only to Habanos whose fillers, binders and wrappers have all been aged for at least 3 years before being rolled at the factory. They are identified by a second band on the cigars in black and silver colours.
  • SAN JUAN Y MARTÍNEZ: A famous small town in Vuelta Abajo which gives its name to a district that is protected as a Denomination of Origin. It has a particular reputation for the cultivation of fillers and binders.
  • SAN LUIS: The other small town the epicentre of Cuban tobacco culture, known above all for the cultivation of wrapper leaves. As a district located in the Vuelta Abajo zone, its name is protected as a Denomination of Origin.
  • SECO: One of the tiempos or families of filler leaves. This one describes the leaves of medium flavour taken from the middle of the plant, which contribute much to the Habano’s aroma. Fortaleza 2.
  • SEMI VUELTA: The tobacco zone situated in the Pinar del Río region that is not in Vuelta Abajo. Known mainly for its cultivation of binder and filler leaves for the Sport Filler Habanos and its production of seeds for all types of Habanos.
  • TABACO: Spanish for tobacco, but in Cuba it also means a cigar.
  • TABACO DE SOL: Sun-Grown tobacco. The term is used to describe the method of growing tobacco in the open air for fillers and binders.
  • TABACO MECANIZADO: Machine made cigars. These are not Habanos.
  • TABACO NEGRO CUBANO: Cuban Black Tobacco. The indigenous tobacco plant discovered on the island by Christopher Columbus.
  • TABACUBA: The Cuban corporation that manages the agricultural and manufacturing functions of the Cuban tobacco industry.
  • TABLA: The wooden board on which torcedores make cigars.
  • TAPADO: Literally ‘covered’. The term is used to describe the method of growing tobacco for wrappers in the shade under muslin cloth.
  • TERCIO: A bale made from yagua (see separate entry) in which wrapper leaves are aged.
  • TIEMPOS: The same as Fortalezas. Different grades of filler leaves needed for various purposes required in blending the Habano.
  • TORCEDOR(A): Cigar roller. The word translates as ‘twister’, but that is the last thing a cigar roller should do when making a cigar.
  • TOTALMENTE A MANO: Totally by hand. A description created in Havana to differentiate between Cuban methods of making cigars by hand from the semi-mechanised metods used elsewhere that can legally be described as ‘Hecho a Mano’ or ‘Hand Made.
  • TRIPA: Filler, the blend of two, three or four different types of tobacco leaves that form the heart of a Habano and dictate its flavour.
  • TRIPA CORTA: Short filler. Filler that is made from pieces of chopped up tobacco leaves sometimes known as picadura.
  • TRIPA LARGA: Long filler. Filler that is made from full-length tobacco leaves.
  • VEGAS DE PRIMERA: Individual first-class fields on plantation in registered Cuban tobacco regions that are approved by the Tobacco Research Institute and the Regulatory Council to grow leaf for Habanos.
  • VEGUERO: Cuban tobacco farmer.
  • VITOLA: A word with many meanings. In Cuba it refers to the size and shape of a cigar (vitola de galera factory name, vitola de salida market name) and also to a particular size of cigar in an individual packing. In Spain it means a cigar band or ring (vitolfilia cigar band collecting). To some it has an almost spiritual meaning encapsulating every aspect of their cigar of choice.
  • VOLADO: One of the tiempos or families of filler leaves. This one describes the light flavoured leaves taken from the bottom of the plant, which help the cigar to burn. Fortaleza 1.
  • VUELTA ABAJO: The finest tobacco-growing land in the world, Vuelta Abajo is the main source of tobacco for Habanos, and the only zone that grows all
  • VUELTA ARRIBA: A tobacco region in the eastern part of Cuba including Bariay where Columbus landed in 1492 and discovered Cuban tobacco. Consequently, it is protected as a Denomination of Origin. Tobacco is still grown here, but not for Habanos.
  • YAGUA: The loose part of the bark of the Royal Palm, Cuba’s national tree, which is used to make bales (tercios) in which wrapper leaves are aged.
  • ZAFADO: The gentle loosening of tobacco leaves after they have been undacked in cavillas from bales.

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