CIGARMKE - KNOW YOUR WRAPPER

July 7, 2014

As a public service, CigarMKE likes to educate the novice cigar smoker on the terms used with our passion.

According to CigarHr.com, If you are casually browsing a cigar’s shop humidor, you are going to be drawn to certain sticks because of their color, texture and sometimes even there smell. Those wrappers serve as a major factor in how the cigar tastes and whether or not you even pick it up off of the shelf.

Just like a lighter wrapper doesn’t equate to cheap or weak, a darker wrapper doesn’t equate to better to stronger. It’s all about the combination and mixtures of the filler, binder and the wrapper…and the quality of the process in which it was made.

Below, I’ve listed the most common wrapper types according to CigarBox.net. I like this list as it breaks down how each is grown and the favors that you can expect from each.

Candela
Candela wrappers, sometimes called Double Claro, are somewhat uncommon; they have a recognizable green tint to them, and have a very fresh, leafy aroma. The green color is achieved by picking the tobacco leaves before the plant has fully matured and drying the leaves quickly. This ensures that the chlorophyll content of the leaves is retained, thereby giving the wrapper its distinguishing color. Tasting notes associated with Candela wrappers typically include grass, cedar, and pepper with a little bit of sweetness. Depending on what type of tobacco leaf is used, they can break out of the mild zone, but typically remain pretty smooth and manageable.

Connecticut
Connecticut wrappers, which are sometimes interchangeable with Claro wrappers, are shade-grown from Connecticut seed, usually either in the U.S. or in Ecuador. Shade-grown refers to the process of being grown under giant sheets of cheesecloth, which keeps the leaves from being exposed to too much sunlight; this ensures that they have a milder flavor. Depending on how long they are aged, their tasting notes can include grass, cream, butter, black or white pepper, coffee, cedar, and many others. Many Connecticut wrappers give a cigar a spicy, ammoniac aroma, and this is due to the fact that tobacco leaves naturally contain a lot of ammonia. The aging process removes some of this ammonia, though lighter wrappers generally tend to be a bit peppery. Connecticut wrappers tend to have a bit more of a “dry” taste than darker wrappers, as they usually don’t have very high sugar content.

Natural
Natural wrappers are also referred to as “English Market Selection.” The term English Market Selection is a term used in Cuban cigar manufacturing, which refers to the designated quality for the UK market. They are typically a bit darker than Connecticut wrappers due to the fact that they are more mature when picked, and are sometimes not shade grown. These tend to be just a bit sweeter with a fuller spice profile and some additional notes of cedar, coffee, bread, and sometimes earth. Identifying these by color can be tricky, as many other wrapper shades have a similar color. Additionally, some companies use Natural as a blanket term covering Connecticut, Claro, and sometimes many others.

And now for some of the middle-ground of wrapper shades—Corojo, Criollo, Sumatra, and Habano. This is for smokers who tend to like spicier cigars and are curious as to why they have that distinctive bite.

Corojo
Corojo tobacco was originally grown in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba—since the mass exodus of tobacco farmers from the country in the 1970’s, Corojo tobacco is principally grown in the Jamastran region of Honduras. Due to the strain’s susceptibility to mold and disease, many disease-resistant hybrid Corojo strains have been engineered. Corojo leaves tend to have a spicy, robust taste with notes of black pepper, earth, leather, cocoa, and cedar. They tend to be very oily and have a distinctly reddish-brown color, though they can be dark enough to make it easy to mistake them for a Maduro. Generally, if you’re not a fan of fuller-bodied smokes, you’ll want to stay away from Corojo-wrapped cigars.

Criollo
Criollo tobacco is one of the original tobaccos used in cigar making, and according to some, it dates back to the late 1400’s; the term itself means “native seed.” Like Corojo wrappers, they tend to be very susceptible to disease, so most Criollo-wrapped smokes you will find feature hybrid strains like Criollo 98. Criollo wrappers tend to be slightly milder than Corojo wrappers, but still have a bit of pepper in the flavor profile. Other notes include cocoa, cedar, bread, nuts, and a bit of sweetness.

Sumatra
Originally hailing from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, this tobacco tends to ere on the sweeter side. A lot of Sumatra tobacco is grown from Sumatran seed in Honduras and Ecuador. Many infused cigars (like Acid and Maker’s Mark) use a Sumatra wrapper because it’s mild enough not to “argue” with the flavor infusion. Tasting notes include cinnamon, earth, floral notes, and a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Habano
Habano wrappers tend to be a bit darker than the aforementioned three, and are by far the spiciest. Habano refers not only to the fact that it’s generally grown from Cuban seed, but also to the fact that its spice level is comparable to that of a Cuban cigar. They can be grown in several countries, though a popular choice is Nicaragua, as the soil content there is conducive to producing some very strong leaves. Tasting notes include bread, intense spice, leather, cocoa, espresso, and cedar. The nicotine blast you’ll get from a typical Habano-wrapped stogie might not be the best introduction to cigar smoking. As a general rule, Habano smokes are better for more experienced smokers.

All of the above wrappers have at some point been labeled as “natural”—this simply refers to their contrast with the darker Maduro cigars in a line.

To learn more about CigarMKE, please visit us at www.cigarmke.com or contact Dan Luke at (414) 235-0042 or email info@cigarmke.com

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