Fillers are the core of the cigar. In other words, it is the foundation of a cigar. Filler decides the character, strength, size, and prominent notes. Master blenders are very careful in picking suitable fillers to give a unique identity for each variety of cigars.
The filler grade tobacco leaves –
Cigar filler consists of three grades of tobacco leaves. From bottom to top, leaves on a tobacco plant are graded into Volado/Viso, Seco, and Ligero. All of them have unique qualities.
Volado/Viso: These are the first-grown leaves of the plant. It attains higher maturity until harvesting and is more potent and thicker than Seco. These leaves are least exposed to sunlight, thus very minimal in flavor.
Seco: Seco leaves get less exposure to sunlight and reach medium maturity, and these leaves are thinner than Viso and Volado, oily and coarse, mild, and aromatic.
Ligero: Ligero is the top-level leaf. They are less mature compared to Seco and Viso but have maximum exposure to sunlight. Ligero is more potent and thicker.
The structure of the filler
Ligero holds the center of the filler, the robust and flavourful leaf, and moving to the exterior, the Seco leaves, which are oily and are aromatic to help balance the aroma. Viso is used in the outer part. Viso is not flavourful but has one quality: it burns faster than other leaves. Its job is to give the cigar an even burn.
Popular tobacco variety for fillers
Pilato Cubano Cuban seed – This was a native of Cuba from the Pinal del Rio region. Seeds were smuggled out of Cuba and are now grown in the Dominican republic. Pilato is robust and full of flavors with spice notes.
Criollo Tobacco -Criollo Tobacco is the oldest variety existing in Cuba for centuries; it made its way into other tobacco-growing countries like Nicaragua and Honduras. This variety has variations in its texture, smoothness, and taste notes.