Glossary of Cigar Terms


A country in South America that has become a prized source for wrapper tobacco. Tobaco is grown outside of Guayaquil, near the foothills of the Andes mountains. The ecosystem creates a near continuous cover of clouds, delivering the same effect as shade without the infrastructure or investment. Traditionally, Connecticut seed (yielding light, golden brown tobacco) and Sumatra seed (stronger, darker, oily tobacco) have been grown in Ecuador. In recent years Habano seed (dark, oily and very flavorful) has been introduced by Oliva Tobacco Co. of Tampa, Florida, with fine results.

Empilónando (emm-pee-LONE-ando)

The process of making a pilón, or a bulk or troje of tobacco for fermentation.

Encallado (en-kay-YAH-doh)

A type of tobacco growing where a plot of tobacco is shaded only on the sides (see photo). This provides protection from the wind and also provides a limited form of shade, shielding tobacco from the rays of the sun when the sun is lower in the sky. Tobacco grown encallado style is fairly rare, and provides a farmer with a middle ground between shade grown and sun grown.

English Market Selection

Abbreviated EMS, a term used to designate a natural color wrapper, not claro or lighter shades, nor maduro or darker shades. In the United Kingdom, an EMS sticker found on boxes of Cuban cigars refers to inventory that has been vetted by Hunters & Frankau, cigar distributors. (Also see American Market Selection.)

Ensarte (en-SAHR-tay)

The process of hanging tobacco in a casa de tabaco, or curing barn.

Ensarte (En-SARR-tay)

The process of taking tobacco leaves from the fields and hanging them in a curing barn. The strings used to hold the leaves are called sartas. Sartas can be hung on their own, or in a preferred method, attached to poles known as cujes.

Entubado or Entubar

A rolling method that originated in Cuba. The roller rolls each filler leaf into a straw or tube shape, creating tubes with great air flow. Proponents say this method allows for a greater number of filler leaves to be put in a cigar while maintaining the draw.


Cooling cabinets in which cigars are kept at the factory for a few weeks after they have been rolled.

Escogida (ess-koh-HEE-dah)

Spanish for chosen, escogida in the world of cigarmaking is the act of color sorting, one of the final steps in the cigar production process. Color sorting is done by specialized workers operating in brightly lit areas of a cigar factory. They spread out cigars on a stark black or bright white table and examine color, arranging boxes of cigars with cigars of very similar color. The process requires a keen eye for color, as there may be as many as 20 slight color variations. A sorter may also reject cigars if they have any visible flaws, such as cracks or blemishes.

Estelí (ess-teh-LEE)

The agricultural town in Nicaragua where most of the country’s cigars are made. Strong tobacco is also grown there.

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