What is the Difference Between Pipe Tobacco and Cigar Tobacco?

A smoking pipe resting on a cigar

When smoking as a pastime, many will choose to use either cigars or pipe tobacco. Here at Havana House, we sell both cigars and pipes, allowing our customers to choose between two different forms of tobacco smoking.

Many cigar or pipe smokers will also indulge in the other from time to time, allowing themselves to enjoy the unique experiences that come from smoking cigars and pipes. But if you’re looking for the right option for you, you might be wondering which you should pick; cigars or pipes?

To help you answer this question, we take a look at some of the similarities and differences between pipes and cigars.

Pipe Tobacco vs Cigar Tobacco

One of the key differences between the two forms of smoking is the type of tobacco used. This is largely down to the way the tobacco leaves are processed and cut.

For pipe tobacco, the leaves are usually finely cut so that it can be packed into the pipe’s bowl.
For cigars, the leaves are usually left whole. The filler leaf is concertinaed, bound by a binder leaf and then all held together with the wrapper leaf.

Pipe Tobacco

Tobacco for pipe smoking is grown all over the world, with North America and Turkey being two key locations.

There are two main classifications for pipe tobacco; Aromatic and Non-Aromatic). Aromatic tobacco offers a sweeter flavour profile, with an aromatic scent and taste. You’ll find flavours of tobacco such as chocolate, vanilla, rum and cherry.

Non-Aromatic tobacco offers earthier notes, with woody and spicy tastes commonly detected. As Non-Aromatic tobacco is less sweet and more earthy in aroma and flavour than Aromatic tobacco, it is usually considered to be more of an acquired taste.

Both Aromatic and Non-Aromatic pipe tobaccos are created using a blend of different types of tobacco. This includes Burley, Virginia, Cavendish, Latakia, Oriental and Perique. You can find out more about these in our full guide to the types of pipe tobacco.

Cigar Tobacco

The tobacco used for cigars is primarily harvested in Central America and the Caribbean, with Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic being key players in the cigar industry.

There are many different varietals of cigar tobacco, including Corojo, Piloto, Habano, Connecticut Shade, Sumatra and Cameroon. There are also unique growing methods that impact on the flavour of the tobacco, such as shade growing.

The tobacco leaves are harvested and aged for long periods of time. For premium cigars, the tobacco will be left as whole leaves. Some cheaper or machine-made cigars may use cut tobacco for the filler. After the cigar is constructed, it will be left to age more, resulting in a flavourful and complex smoke.

A man lighting a pipe outside

How Is Smoking Pipe Tobacco and Cigar Tobacco Different?

As we have established, pipe tobacco and cigar tobacco are grown and processed in different ways, using different tobacco varietals. But how does this translate to the way it is smoked? Here we explore the differences between smoking pipes and cigars.

Preparing and Maintaining the Smoke

Both cigars and pipes require a few preparation steps before they can be smoked.


To smoke a cigar, the cap needs to be cut at the head using a cigar cutter. The foot of the cigar must be toasted with a cigar lighter or match to light it.

During the smoke, you will need to puff on the cigar every couple of minutes to ensure that it doesn’t extinguish. Smoking too quickly can cause the cigar to burn too hot and fast. This can make the cigar burn unevenly and can create an unpleasant taste.


To smoke a pipe, the pipe must be packed with tobacco. This is quite a skilful task, as you don’t want the pipe packed too tight or too loose as this can affect your ability to successfully smoke it. The density of the packing will depend on the type of tobacco used and the moisture content of it.

When loaded, the bowl needs to be lit using a match or soft flame. The airflow must then be controlled with a pipe tamper or your thumb. Oxygen control is important in pipe smoking, as it is needed to keep the tobacco lit. As you smoke, you will need to tamp the tobacco to ensure the lit part comes into contact with unlit tobacco to keep it burning.

A man sat smoking a cigar

Taste of Pipe Tobacco vs Cigar Tobacco

Another thing to consider is the taste differences of these two types of tobacco.

Taste of Cigars

Cigars are designed to provide an incredible flavour. When a cigar manufacturer decides to produce a new cigar, years of planning, trialling and testing come into play before it is released for sale.

The precise flavours present will depend on a number of factors, including the type and combination of wrapper, binder and filler tobaccos used, and how long they were aged for.

The intensity of a cigar will depend on the length and ring gauge of the cigar. Shorter cigars will offer a quick punch of concentrated flavour, while longer cigars can be savoured as you experience the flavour gradually develop.

Taste of Pipe Tobacco

The taste of pipe tobacco is less considered than with cigars.

Your pipe smoking experience will greatly depend on the type of tobacco you choose to smoke, especially whether it is an Aromatic or Non-Aromatic type.

The tobacco taste you experience will also be impacted by what you have previously smoked in your pipe, as this can impart a flavour and aroma into the bowl of the pipe that can taint future smokes!

Similarities in Pipe Smoking and Cigar Smoking

Both involve burning tobacco to experience aromas and flavours.
Both can be relaxing experiences that can take around an hour; a perfect armchair activity, or something to enjoy with friends.

Neither pipes nor cigars are inhaled. The smoke is simply puffed, and the aroma and flavour are enjoyed. Smoke may be held in the mouth and exhaled, but it isn’t drawn into the lungs.

We hope that this has explained some of the similarities and differences between pipe and cigar smoking. Each way has its own pros and cons in terms of ease and flavour, but the choice is ultimately up to you and your preferences.

The best way to find out your preference is to try! We have both cigars and pipe tobacco available here at Havana House.

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