Monday, July 29, 2013

Cigar Wrappers

A cigar really is the sum of its parts.  The overall taste and flavor profile of a cigar is the combination of the wrapper, binder, filler, and the blenders ability to pair and match tobacco that will create an amazing taste.  The wrapper does play a big role in that it is the only leaf you really see.  The appearance, and therefore overall desirability, is based on the look of the wrapper alone.  A gorgeous looking wrapper can make you purchase a cigar even if you know nothing else about it.  Whereas a poor looking wrapper can make you steer clear of that cigar or even that line.  Also most of the flavor you taste from your cigar comes from the wrapper.  So I think it is important to know the differences between the various wrappers on the market. 

Candela wrappers have a very high chlorophyll content to them so they retain their green color.  This is due to drying immature tobacco leaves.  These cigars are very mild in strength with distinct earthy notes. Sometimes called Double Claro.

Connecticut wrappers are named Connecticut because they are either grown in the US or from Connecticut seed grown in Ecuador.  These wrappers are shade grown; the tobacco plants are grown under huge sheets of cheesecloth so that the leaves are not exposed to direct sunlight.  This gives the leaves  a lighter color as well as ensures a mild strength.  The flavor profile can range on these wrappers from creamy, earthy, woodsy, coffee, chocolate, cedar, and slightly spicy but will always remain on the milder side.  Sometimes called Claro.    

Natural tobacco leaves may or may not be shade grown and also tend to be more mature when picked than Candela and Connecticut leaves.  Natural leaves have the capability of being sweeter and/or spicier but with the same flavor profiles and Connecticut leaves.  These cigars tend to be on the on the milder side as well.  Sometimes called English Market Select. 

These leaves are typically grown in the Jamastran region of Honduras.  They tend to be a very oily reddish brown color.  They are known to have a spicy flavor profile that can range from pepper, earth, spice, and chocolate.  Generally these cigars tend to be medium to full in strength.
Criollo wrappers on average are slightly milder than Corojo wrappers but still have a spicy flavor profile that can also include chocolate, earth, nuts, spice, and maybe even a touch of sweetness.  These cigars are more medium in strength.   

These wrappers originated from the Indonesian Island of Sumatra (go figure!!) but nowadays Sumatran seed can be grown in Honduras or Ecuador.  This wrapper will lend a sweet undertone to the smoke.  Possible flavor notes include; earth, cinnamon, and floral.  These cigars will be considered medium in strength.     

The Cameroon Wrapper originated from Cameroon in the west central part of Africa.  The wrapper often gives a very grainy appearance.  It is not oily and often very delicate.  This wrapper gives the cigar a very rich flavor profile without being too strong.  Possible flavor notes include; butter, black pepper, leather, and toast.  These cigars can be medium to full - depending on the particular blend.   

This is still somewhat of a rare wrapper.  Rosado translates to pink or rosy which gives tribute to the color of the wrapper.  These leaves are very hard to grow outside of Cuba, this is what makes them so rare because only a few companies have access to these leaves.  Rosado wrapped cigars tend to be on the spicy side with possible flavor notes of; cedar, coffee, earth, and pepper.  These cigars can be medium to full - depending on the particular blend.  

To make a true Maduro wrapper is a lengthy process.  The leaves are stored in a curing barn for 45 days until their color turns from green to brown.  They are then aged to make the leaves an even darker and richer brown.  This process naturally brings out the sugars in the leaves giving these wrappers their distinct caramel like sweetness.  Also the leaves tend to be on the thicker side because of the lengthy fermentation process - thinner leaves just cannot stand up to this process.  Possible flavor notes include; dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, molasses, and black pepper.  These cigars can be medium to full bodied depending on the particular blend.    

Habano wrappers tend to be the spiciest.  The most popular place to grow these wrappers is Nicaragua although it can be grown elsewhere.  Possible flavor notes include; intense spice, leather, cocoa, espresso, and cedar.  These tend to be fuller bodied cigars and not a good choice for someone who has never smoked a cigar before.   

These leaves are the darkest wrapper you can find on a cigar.  They are fermented for longer than Maduro leaves.  This gives Oscuro cigars an even richer flavor profile of; dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, molasses, and black pepper.  These are full bodied cigars.  Sometimes referred to as Maduro Maduro. 

Posted by Michele

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