The Cigar Studio Tobacco School is a group of short tutorials we are putting together to help you get a better understanding of important tobacco and cigar “tidbits”. While one might call these tutorials Version 1.0 for Novice Smokers, they are also intended to help experienced smokers learn something they did not know. Our view on cigar education is that new smokers will learn, seasoned smokers will grow.
Part 1 Tobacco Leaves
What follows is a short overview of the important elements of the tobacco plant, the base production unit for all cigars everywhere.
A tobacco plant is broken down into Primings, which are the different sections of the plant, These are each harvested as layers from the bottom upwards in the following order; Volado, Seco, and Ligero.(within each of these there are sub parts but we’ll lean that in College). Areas of a tobacco plant that get the most exposure to the sun, produce tobacco with the most flavor and strength.
Volado are leaves nearest the ground and the first leaves to be picked. They get the least sun exposure, and are thin and light. Both of the qualities lend themselves to superior burning because it’s a more combustible leaf. Therefore they are included in a cigar’s blend to ensure an even and consistent burn when smoked.
Seco is the larger, middle section of a tobacco plant. These leaves have a little more punch to them and provide the cigar with a little more flavor but lots of aroma owing to the oils that build up in that part of the tobacco plant. As we will learn later, seco leaves are used for both wrapper and filler in a cigar.
Ligero is the highest section of the plant. These leaves get the most sun exposure and are thick and course and extremely full in flavor. Ligero leaves are left to ripen as the last leaves to be picked; since all the previous leaves on the plant are by now gone, plant nutrients concentrate in legero to provide a (strong) cigar’s full flavor. Strong cigars have a couple of ligero leaves in them, mild cigars often none. Our next tutorial will explain why ligero leaves can not be used (often) for cigar wrappers.
In summary, Volado leaves provide burn and combustion, Seco some flavor and aroma, while Ligero strength and flavor.
Stay tuned for Part 2 when we will review how tobacco is used in a cigar.