Which type of cigar leaf is ideal for cigar wrappers?

Terry Pomerantz gives us an overview of the main types of cigar leaves that make up a quality cigar and explains their role.

The 3 parts of a cigar (puro)

A puro (cigar) consists of 3 key parts:

  1. The filler,
  2. The binder,
  3. The wrapper.

There is an ideal tobacco leaf for each part of a cigar.

Left: standing cigar, mouthpiece up. Right: 3 cigars lying down (mouthpiece on the left), shelled, showing from bottom to top: filler, binder and wrapper.
Image above = from bottom to top: tripe, sous-cape and cape</1>

Types of cigar tobacco leaves

Criollo is the only true Cuban tobacco variety. In order to be able to absorb the many nuances of its flavour, its leaves must grow in full sun. It is the height of the leaf on the shoot that determines its characteristics. The leaves at the top of the tobacco plant are called Ligero, the middle leaves Seco and the bottom leaves Volado.

Which type of cigar leaf is ideal for cigar wrappers?

For the cigar wrapper, torcedores use very delicate tobacco leaves that have very few veins. “A cigar wrapper is the first thing a cigar aficionado will notice. This is the first physical contact with the cigar. The smoothness of the cigar wrapper, along with color and shape, are indicators of the pleasure the aficionado will experience with the aroma.” Explains Terry Pomerantz, taking a Churchill out of his humidor.

The usefulness of each type of cigar leaf

The Ligero leaf, which is more exposed to light, produces a more aromatic tobacco with a stronger taste. The torcedor, the artisan who makes cigars by hand, uses it for the filler. The intermediate leaves, the Seco, produce a lighter tobacco with subtle aromas. Alone or mixed with Ligero, Seco are also used to make the tripe. Finally, the Volado, the lower leaves of the plant, are used to regulate the combustion of the cigar.

The ideal type of tobacco leaf for the cigar wrapper

The ideal tobacco leaves for making the wrapper of a quality cigar come from the Corojo, a hybrid plant that has given rise to several varieties of wrapper tobacco such as 2000 Havana. Its thin, soft leaves and oils provide the perfect elasticity for the wrappers of Habanos, the famous cigars made entirely in Cuba

The best-known types of cigar tobacco

Other well-known types of cigar tobacco include the Connecticut Broadleaf and the Amish County of American origin.

The Connecticut Broadleaf is used to produce the full-bodied Maduro tobacco with its rich, deep and spicy flavours. The majority of cigar tobacco from the Dominican Republic is derived from Cuban cultivars.

7 standing colored cigars (mouthpiece up), showing the 7 main shades of wrapper: from the Double Claro on the left, to the Oscuro on the right

Cigar wrappers and colours

There are more than 65 different colour shades in the wrappers of Havana cigars alone! But manufacturers mainly use the following:

  • Double Claro or Candela (the lightest shade),
  • Claro,
  • Colorado Claro,
  • Colorado,
  • Colorado Maduro,
  • Maduro,
  • Oscuro or Double Maduro (the darkest shade).

Before a meal, Terry “likes to enjoy a fairly mild cigar like a Hoyo de Monterrey. It’s important to smoke a mild tobacco to preserve the sensitivity of the taste buds. That way, the taste of the cigar doesn’t interfere with the subtleties of a good wine or the flavours of the food. I reserve the strong cigars for the beginning of the evening. After dessert and coffee, I quietly enjoy a Cohiba Behike or sometimes a Bolivar with its powerful, earthy flavours. If you do the opposite, you will be totally unable to appreciate the taste of wine or a nice piece of beef, even if it is Kobe beef!”

A few types of tobaccos for cigar wrappers

Connecticut wrappers

Grown in the United States, close to the Connecticut River, Connecticut tobacco yields blond or light beige wrappers with smooth and sweet flavors.

Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers

Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco is the best known tobacco for Maduro wrappers. Color varies from medium brown to dark brown, with cedar, black chocolate and licorice flavors. Maduro Oscuro wrappers are almost black.

Brazilian wrappers

When they are made from Brazilian wrapper leaves, they are very dark in color, almost black. They have coffee and black pepper flavors.

Cameroon wrappers

With a delicate texture and colors that range from light brown to medium brown, this tobacco grown in Cameroon, in Central Africa, yields a wonderful balance of sweetness and spice.

Dominican wrappers

Today, Dominican tobaccos are among the most reputable in the world. For example, Chateau de la Fuente wrapper leaves are golden in color, with red and brown highlights. Some tobaccos stand out like a creamy velvet and others with intense spice flavors.

Havana wrappers

Made from Cuban tobacco seeds fermented in the pure Cuban tradition, these wrapper leaves with intense flavors are grown in several countries, including Nicaragua and Ecuador.

Candela wrappers

Candela wrappers are green, with herb, pepper, green tea and cedar aromas.

Among all of the other cigar tobaccos used for wrappers, let’s mention Honduran, Indonesian, San Andrès and Sumatra tobacco.

A cigar sommelier’s job

Creating a cigar is an art form that is similar to culinary arts or a winemaker’s knowhow. The cigar sommelier’s role is important in order to maintain the taste of each vitola, for each brand of cigar. It is essential in ensuring that all aromas, textures and smoke quality remain constant, especially for the most expensive cigar brands, which include famous Cuban cigars.

Each year, cigar tobacco leaves are exposed to different weather conditions: rainfalls and droughts, fluctuating temperatures, sunlight, wind strength and direction, etc.

All of these weather conditions affect cigar tobacco plants in one way or another, along with the cigar leaf drying quality, the fermentation process and tobacco aging, without forgetting the experience and talent of the torcedores and torcedoras. From one year to the next, each of these variables are likely to affect the wide aromatic range of the tobacco leaves, including taste, aroma, flavor and richness of the smoke.

It is the cigar sommelier who chooses the tobacco leaves and makes the necessary adjustments so that the tobacco leave mixtures have the same taste, burn the same way and produce the same smoke density from one year to the next, in order to ensure the same consistency when it comes to quality, like for a Cohiba Siglo IV, a Montecristo No 3 or a Romeo y Julieta Shorty Churchill.

“The cigar sommelier’s knowhow guarantees the reputation of the entire cigar brand!” concludes Terry Pomerantz.

A cigar enthusiast, Terry Pomerantz shares his expert advice on the different brands, types of cigars, and essential accessories to have. Immerse yourself in his recommendations to magnify your experience with each cigar, which you can enjoy in good company, an invitation to take the time to live each moment to the full.