Cigar Terminology Explained: Strength, Body and Flavor

Arnold with cigar
When people talk about cigars, they often drop a lot of fancy terms. Almost every cigar description will say something like: “Medium body, with notes of toast and leather. A bit of strength, but nothing overpowering. Decent cigar for puttering about the yard.”

(Sidebar: How much time do cigar smokers spend in the yard and garage, anyway? Are these the places we’ve all been banished to forevermore? Anyhow…)

Cigar terminology may mean something to you, or it may sound like a bunch of BS used to sell cigars. No matter which camp you’re in, in this post, we’ll try to explain how these terms are commonly understood.


This is a cigar’s power, punch, and potency. Do you take a puff and think, “Wow – this is a LOT of cigar, right here!” That’s strength. Also, if your head is swimming, you’re probably smoking a “strong” cigar (and should probably slow down before you hit the deck, there, Chief).


This is a bit of a catchall, but should really relate to how many parts of the tongue and mouth are getting into the act on each draw. Is each puff thin and hitting only a little pepper on the tongue, or is it a rich experience with many layers? If it’s the latter, that’s full body. This term also carries over to wine tasting (and other tastings), where mouthfeel and the fullness of the mouth experience are more obvious.

This is getting erotic. Let’s move on.

cigar jargon


This shouldn’t confuse too many people. This is simple: what other things does the cigar taste like besides “cigar?” Wood, leather, spice, vanilla, cedar, cocoa, coffee, hay, and more are all common flavors. (If your cigar tastes like ink, you’re probably drunk and trying to smoke a pen – just go to bed already.)

Are the flavors strong and obvious? Then you’re smoking a full flavored cigar. Are the flavors vague and difficult to detect? Then you are smoking a light flavored cigar.

Hopefully, this clears a few things up. If not – don’t worry. Most people have no clue what cigar terminology actually means and you can safely say whatever the hell you want without too much pushback from fellow smokers. Be warned, though: those who are in the know will mark you and judge you if you’re spouting nonsense. This is true in all areas of life, actually, so keep it in mind.

Happy smoking!

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