While enjoying a premium, hand rolled cigar, how often do you actually think about the process of creating cigars or the tobacco plant itself? Probably not often. Also, how many cigar smokers have actually had an opportunity to visit a tobacco farm to see the rows upon rows of tobacco plants? A small percentage of the cigar smoking population, to be sure.
Tobacco plants will grow on average six to seven pairs of leaves. These leaves are picked (primed) in pairs. These primings, listed in order, from the top of the plant to the bottom are named Coronas, Centro Gordo, Centro Fino, Centro Ligero, Uno y Medio and Libre de Pie. These primings are further categorized into four types of leaves. They are Ligero, Seco, Capote and Volado.
Capote leaves are used for the binder leaf of a cigar. The binder is used to keep filler leaves together and gives a cigar its shape after being pressed in a mold. Capote leaves are found just above Volado leaves on a tobacco plant.
Seco and Volado leaves generally comprise the filler tobacco for cigars. The flavors and strength of the leaves become more subtle the lower you go in the primings. Seco leaves are found in the middle of a tobacco plant while the Volado leaves are at the bottom.
Wrapper leaf for cigars come from tobacco plants grown specifically for wrapper tobacco and are primed in pairs as well.[INFOGRAPHIC] The Anatomy of a Tobacco Plant by Tom Ufer