Cigar Binders

This week Max Foulkes writes about cigar binders, the leaves that are used to wrap the fillers together in the cigar. Highlighting their beauty, complexity and importance.

Beneath the beauty of the finest, shade-grown wrapper leaves lies three varieties of filler bound by a leaf disregarded by many. The Capote (binder) is grown not for its flavour, nor appearance but ‘simply’ to hold the blend together. Coarse to the touch, this unappealing leaf is the mortar where the filler is the bricks and wrapper the wallpaper. The sign of a good Capote is that a cigar will smoke sans Capa (wrapper). On occasion I’ve experienced the tobacco enfolded by the binder expand to the point the wrapper cracks. An almost surgical removal of this outer leaf leaves bare the binder but affects not the smoke, conveying the importance of this aesthetically unpleasant leaf.

A blend’s complexity can be furthered with the use of more than one binder. As Seco and Volado generally envelop the filler (consisting of both the aforementioned leaves in addition to Ligero) the use of multiple binders is proven to alter a cigar’s profile. Despite Seco often used to enhance aroma and Volado aiding combustion, there is no doubt these leaves possess unique flavours capable of changing a blend’s essence entirely.

The combination of the binder and filler tobacco is known as the ‘Bonche’ (bunch). This is the point a cigar really takes form. Wrappers (fine, delicate creations) cannot contain these characterful leaves alone, no matter their elasticity nor levels of inherent natural oil. Encapsulating the blend, I believe the binder an unsung hero deserving of increased recognition.

View Max Foulkes keep here.