Whole Leaf Wrappers vs. Binders vs. Fillers
It has often been said that from cultivation, harvest, aging, and rolling your cigar, many hands have touched the cigar you are enjoying. These hands plant, pick, dry, and roll the whole leaf tobacco for every stick with care and experience. But you might not know everything that goes into making a quality cigar.
There are three types of leaves that go into making your cigar: the wrapper, the binder, and the filler — sort of the “good, the bad, and the ugly” of the perfect smoke. The different types of leaves used for each determine the intensity of your cigar, as well as flavor, and how well it burns. Though there are as many blends, regions, strengths, and colors of tobacco used in the process, we will just focus on the three types of leaves that make every cigar.
Wrappers are the highest quality leaves. They are the largest of the three types and are chosen for their structural integrity. They are selected for their lack of holes and imperfections and are used as the outside of the cigar to bind the other two types of leaves together. Since they are the first thing that touches your lips during a smoke, they are extremely important to taste. They also determine how evenly your cigar will burn.
The binder is typically of lower quality than the wrapper, but still decent. It holds the filler in place and the tightness of the binder also determines the draw. Too loose and the draw will be too quick and your stick will burn too quickly and maybe unevenly. Too tight, and you will be relighting your cigar frequently and continually stoking it. While the binder leaf doesn’t have to be pretty to get the job done, including all its holes imperfections, it does have to blend well with the flavor of the wrapper and build consistency.
Any leaf can be a filler because these leaves are usually shredded and pressed into the correct shape. Either box or hand-rolled, they are held in place by the binder and wrapper. The filler maintains the flavor, strength, and boldness of the cigar.
There are two types of filler:
- Long filler: the whole leaf running from the head to the foot of the cigar
- Short filler: made up of shredded pieces of leaves
Blending is the process of making all the components of a cigar work together to form the overall flavor. The wrapper, the binder, and the filler must create a palatable and cohesive blend to form a proper cigar. Blending is an art that takes practice, relying on the successes of the past, as well as experimentation with current crops and blends. As the tobacco changes from region to region and is often dependent on aging, curing, and even climate variations, it is always a work in progress!
Total Leaf Supply curates its whole leaf tobacco for the best experience. Unlike other online whole leaf tobacco companies, our attention to detail, knowledge of the regions, growers, and the process of selecting only the finest leaves separate us from the rest. Browse our selection to see what we have to offer!