Category: Cigar Wrappers


green cigars

The Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligans have become the quintessential green cigars for St. Patrick’s Day.

March is painted green as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every March 17th. To help spread some green around the interwebs, I took it upon myself to highlight some of my favorite Candela or Claro wrapped stogies, commonly referred to as Green Cigars, for St. Patrick’s Day. Now, I know you’re thinking green cigars are weird and don’t look like traditional cigars. Well let me put that myth to bed right now: Candela cigars were just as popular back in the 60s as our traditional brown cigars are in the present. I probably just blew your mind with that fact, and rightly so. It’s time we shuffle off this stigma that green is a bad thing and start embracing the real traditional cigar again. Continue reading

Jonathan DeTore

Author:

My job here is pretty simple - I write stuff, I post stuff to Facebook, and I take it to the house consistently at the weekly slam drunk contest. I do it all while sipping on a fine glass of cognac at my desk (don’t tell my boss), and wearing cashmere slippers. Let’s just say "The Hef" has nothing on me.

Marvelous Maduros
Baccarat Rothschild
CAO Gold Maduro RobustoCarlos Torano Signature Robusto
La Aurora Escogidos Robusto
La Gloria Serie N Glorioso
Nub Maduro 464T
Perdomo Grand Cru Robusto
Saint Luis Rey Serie G No. 6
Alec Bradley Tempus Terra Nova
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Robusto 

A Short Primer on Maduro-Cured Tobaccos

By Gary Korb

Spanish for “ripe,” when you think of a “maduro cigar” one of the first words that comes to mind is “dark.” And that’s the idea. The longer tobacco leaves are fermented, the darker they get. Note that there is no specific “Maduro” leaf, as there is say, a “Corojo” or “Criollo” leaf. Cigar smokers who think maduro cigars are strong will be surprised that this extra fermentation process actually makes the leaf milder and most often sweeter, as well. This natural sweetness is the result of exposing the leaves to extra sunlight during the growing period. Moreover, the leaf essentially “tans,” becoming darker, and also produces more oils. For this reason, the leaves used for curing most maduro wrapper are taken from the top two-thirds of the plant. Suffice it to say, the strength of full-bodied maduro cigars is due more to the filler used, like ligero, than the darkness of the wrapper.

The secret to getting good Maduro leaf is dependent on one of several fermentation processes based on what the Master Blender wants to achieve in terms of color, flavor and strength. Connecticut Broadleaf, Habano (Cuban seed),
and Mexican-grown Sumatra are the most commonly used leaves for fermenting and curing Maduro. However, as you can see by the list of cigars featured in this month’s sampler, Brazilian-grown leaf has become a staple for its thickness, oily sheen and spicier character.

So how does a maduro leaf attain its dark color? One technique is to ferment the leaves longer at a much higher temperature, generally around 150-degrees, rather than the average 110-degrees used to ferment “Natural” wrappers.

Some blenders use a method called “cooking.” During this process, the leaves are placed in a steam chamber that can reach temperatures as high as 180-degrees or more. As a result, the leaves not only attain an even darker color, they’re also milder in flavor. This is one way to produce “Oscuro” wrapper, the darkest and often the oiliest of maduro leaves.

There is also a third “shortcut” method which most veteran Master Blenders detest. This process involves using dyes and sugar to darken and sweeten the leaf. If you notice some stain on your fingers or lips, the wrapper was most likely made using this process. It may even be a well-made and flavorful cigar, but once the cat’s out of the bag, it’s a buzz kill for a lot of cigar smokers.

It’s likely that you’ve had at least a few Maduro cigars by now. That said, if you haven’t had the pleasure of smoking a well-made cigar with a naturally fermented maduro wrapper, you’re missing out on some marvelous smokes.

*Price is a sale price, and subject to change.

Author:

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

It’s happened to everyone who smokes premium cigars – the bad burn caused by poor cigar construction. Whether it’s the cigar going out on you too fast, canoeing, or the wrapper coming undone, a bad burn is one of the most frustrating things that can happen. Since a bad burning cigar requires so much extra work, maybe a better word would be “irritating.” Often times, you’ve spent so much time getting the cigar to straighten out, you don’t even remember how the darn thing tasted.

There are several factors that contribute to a bad burning cigar. Some of these I’ve touched on in past articles. For example, it could be the wrapper was too delicate, too thick and oily, or just an inferior quality or poorly cured leaf. Other factors can be a wrapper leaf that’s too dry, which tends to cause the leaf to unravel. It could also be due to poor rolling. Either the bunch wasn’t rolled carefully enough, or during the bunching process some of the binder, which aids in the burning of a cigar, got tucked into the filler. The result is a canoeing cigar, because there’s nothing in those spots to help the wrapper along. Continue reading

Famous Smoke Shop

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The world's fastest, friendliest, and best place to buy cigars! Since 1939, Famous Smoke Shop has prided itself on offering the freshest, largest selection cigars at the most competitive prices, and customer service that can't be beat.

Hayward TenneyImagine walking into a smoke shop (for argument’s sake, let’s call it “Leaf“). You’re greeted by the friendly folks at the retail counter. You wade past wood shelves neatly lined with humidors, pull open a heavy wooden door, and proceed into the 2,000 square foot humidor.

“Can I help you find anything?” the clerk behind the counter asks.

As you ponder the myriad of cigars before you, how are you feeling? Confident? Confused? Excited? Overwhelmed? There’s no right answer; but I’d like to address a couple cigar misconceptions I’ve noticed are held by many beginner to intermediate level cigar enthusiasts.

cigar misconceptions

Macanudo Maduro cigars are a great example of a cigar with a darker wrapper and a smooth and mild flavor profile.

The first misconception is that many cigar smokers focus too much on wrapper color. Believing that the wrapper color is indicative of the cigar’s strength, the tendency is to reach for an extra-pale shade grown wrapper. This is one of the cigar misconceptions that can cause a smoker to take a pass on a stick they might really enjoy.

While there may be a slight correlation between strength and wrapper color, it’s unreliable at best. The color of a wrapper has more to do with the actual flavors of a cigar than with its strength. That comes from the filler blend, and the ligero leaves, in particular. Located at the top of the tobacco plant, these leaves receive the most nutrients and sunlight, and are therefore the strongest and fullest-flavored.

The second of the cigar misconceptions I’m addressing today is that smaller cigars are less potent. Anyone who has ever smoked a fresh Fuente Fuente OpusX “Power Ranger” can tell you this one is dead wrong. Sure, a smaller vitola may look less imposing, but its diminutive diameter makes for a stronger smoke.

Counter-intuitive? Sure, but if you think about it, the smaller ring gauge means that you are smoking a greater ratio of wrapper leaf to filler blend. The result is more concentrated flavors than offered by its larger-ring counterpart. While a Churchill may have more total tobacco than a Lancero, its milder-tasting smoke may be easier on the novice- or occasional-smoker’s palate.

One final word: there’s no substitute for experience, but good advice goes a long way. Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for advice from the guy or gal behind the counter. High-quality smoke shops like Leaf take pride in training their staff to cater to your taste preference and experience on a personal basis.

Hayward Tenney

Author:

When he's not busy writing, editing, smoking cigars, or raising his many, many children, Hayward "It's Lou, not Hayward" Tenney spends his days combating confusion about his real name (it's Hayward, but please - call him "Lou") and mourning the matrimonially-induced loss of his moustache (what's he gonna do with all that moustache wax he made?).

Gary KorbI write about cigars so often that when I try to come up with something new I occasionally come up dry. That’s when I go to my trusty folder of questions from readers. For this post I refer to an email in which the writer had recently bought a sampler of all cigars that feature a Maduro wrapper. He noted that prior to this purchase he had mostly smoked cigars with Connecticut Shade wrappers. His beef was that the Maduro wrappers tended to burn unevenly and required “more relights than other wrappers.” So, the question for me was whether I thought Maduro wrappers normally have burn issues. Since he didn’t say what brands were in the sampler, I gave him an answer based on things that thicker wrappers can cause. But do I think Maduro wrappers have more burn problems than other wrappers? An emphatic “No.”

Wrappers aside, cigars can have burn problems for any number of reasons that might including bunching, rolling, quality of the leaf, how it was cured, fermented, aged, and so on.

Generally speaking, Maduro wrappers are thicker. The reason for this is the plants are exposed to more sunlight. The more sunlight, the more sugars the leaf produces. Additionally, the leaves become thicker to help resist all that extra sunshine. They’re also toothier, meaning the surface is also much rougher in texture as opposed to the silky feel of a fine Connecticut Shade leaf. That said, most tobacco leaves that are exposed to more sunlight will develop a thicker skin, so the same can be said for some sun-grown wrappers, like those found on the Rocky Patel Rosado cigars, for example.

maduro wrapper cigars

The Arturo Fuente 858 with a Maduro wrapper is a sweet tasting premium cigar

One thing that actually can affect a cigar’s burn is if the wrapper is particularly oily. Although oily wrappers tend to be more appealing to cigar smokers, a cigar that looks like it’s wet is a sign that the leaf has most likely had less fermentation time. Even though the binder is designed to help the cigar burn, an oily wrapper can cause tunneling, canoeing, or may go out sooner than expected when left in the saddle of your ashtray.

Some experts suggest that Maduro wrapper cigars should be kept at a lower humidity level in your humidor, more like 64% – 65%, rather than the usual 68% – 70%. Actually, most cigars do very well at lower RH levels, but if your collection consists mostly of cigars with Maduro wrappers, you may want to consider keeping them in a separate humidor.

As noted above, Maduro wrapper leaves produce more sugars, so they tend to taste sweeter, as well, though a lot of new cigar smokers believe they are stronger. The type of Maduro leaf is also key to the taste, burn, etc. For example, Perdomo Lot 23 Maduro cigars have an appealing sweetness. When I asked Nick Perdomo Jr. about this he said it’s because he uses a Cuban seed leaf instead of a Connecticut Broadleaf. The Cuban seed maduro seems to be a little thinner than the Broadleaf, too. On the other hand, Arturo Fuente uses a Connecticut Broadleaf on their 8-5-8 Flor Fina Maduro, which I find deliciously sweet. On the contrary, the AVO Maduro, also a Connecticut Broadleaf, is not a sweet Maduro. When I asked Avo Uvezian about this, he told me that’s the way he likes it. So, you also have to account for how each manufacturer processes their wrapper leaves.

If a wrapper is darker as well as thicker, like an Oscuro leaf, it may also be a little stronger in flavor. You may also notice the seams in the roll are more prominent. This is another sign that the wrapper is thicker.

Of course, you never know how the cigar is going to burn until you light it up.
So, regardless of whether you smoke cigars with thin or thick wrappers, always make sure you get a good even burn at the foot when lighting up. You want to make sure the binder has fully taken, for as I noted earlier, it helps all of the tobaccos burn.

Author:

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

Yes! Depending on the color of the wrappers on your cigars, their character can shift from a small to even a significant amount of flavor. Read the following excerpt from an article written for the old version of CigarAdvisor.com.

First, Hendrik pulled three of the same type of cigars out of the humidor…The cigars that were chosen were cigars with a fairly mild blend and were identical, in ring gauge, length, filler, binder and wrapper. He then called down to the factory floor and asked one of the supervisors to bring up a few wrapper leaves of different types.
Eladio took the wrapper leaves off of two of the three cigars and replaced them with two different ones…The first cigar, had the original wrapper leaf, which was a Connecticut Shade grown in Ecuador. This cigar exhibited grassiness and a light spice. The second wrapper, which was a hybrid of Cuban seed and Connecticut seed also grown in Ecuador, displayed rich tobacco sweetness and had medium spice. The third cigar wrapper was a Cuban seed grown in the DR. This cigar was very full in spice and had woody flavors and aromas. All three were very different, even though the filler and binder were identical. I never expected that the differences would be so dramatic, but it was clear that, when the filler blend is fairly light, the flavor of the wrapper leaf will be able to assert itself more easily.

wrapper leaf

The wrapper tobacco leaf has a huge impact on the flavor of the cigar

Not only will the color and origin of the wrapper affect the flavor of the cigar, but even the same wrapper leaf can impart a different flavor depending on which part of the plant the leaf was grown. Leaves higher on the plant (high primings) get more sunlight, therefore they grow darker, produce more sugars and tend to be fuller in body and flavor, whereas leaves from the lower part of the plant (low primings) tend to be milder in body and flavor.

This latter phenomenon may be noticed by more experienced cigar smokers who have a developed a taste for specific blends. For instance, if you take two boxes of the same cigars and place them next to each other, you may notice a slight difference in the color of the wrapper leaf. That’s because the cigars are sorted by color in the factory so they look uniform when you open the box. Though it’s generally imperceptible, lighter or darker wrappers can affect the flavor of the smoke. You either have to have an extremely sensitive palate, or know how the cigars should taste based on your experience. Moreover, some customers actually call Customer Service insisting that the manufacturer changed the blend, and in some cases, will even return them.

Finally, lest we forget that we are smoking a naturally-grown, handmade product. Though cigars in every wrapper shade can vary from box to box by a shade or two, a little difference in flavor is usually not enough to warrant a return. At the end of the day, it’s all part of the cigar-smoking experience.

Famous Smoke Shop

Author:

The world's fastest, friendliest, and best place to buy cigars! Since 1939, Famous Smoke Shop has prided itself on offering the freshest, largest selection cigars at the most competitive prices, and customer service that can't be beat.


Smoking Guide
CI-FAM-BESTOFM

Famous ‘Best of Maduros’ Sampler
Explore the rich-tasting world of Maduro wrappers with the Best Of Maduros Sampler. Maduro is not a color, but a process of aging leaf under specific heat and pressure conditions to bring out its natural sweetness. Submitted for your enjoyment, you get two-each of these 10 exquisite smokes made by the leading manufacturers.

$69.95
Everyday Price: $83.99 • Retail Price: $129.28

Buy Now

601 Habano Oscuro Green TroncoCAO Brazilia Gol! MaduroCuvee 151 Robusto MaduroFlor De Gonzalez Selection Robusto MaduroFinal Blend Robusto MaduroLa Floridita Limited Robusto MaduroOlde World Reserve Toro MaduroOlor Fuerte Robusto Dark NaturalPadron 2000 MaduroRocky Patel Cuban Blend Robusto Maduro

Tips

What makes a cigar
wrapper so oily?

A shimmering wrapper leaf, usually more apparent on a maduro cigar, can often be the difference between a sale and a pass. As my colleague Humberto Gonzalez says, “Oily cigar wrappers are attractive to the American eye because Americans love big shiny things.” Actually, the oils secreted from the leaf are a product of the curing process. However, an oily wrapper is a sign that the leaf was not completely fermented. Moreover, some factories will use ethylene glycol to make their cigars look oilier. According to Jorge Padron, that’s a serious no-no.

“At Padron we would never even consider doing something like this. Much has been said about oily wrappers and how consumers should look upon this as a positive attribute of a cigar. During fermentation, the idea is to remove as much oil from the wrapper leaf as possible without entirely drying it out.”

 

The 411 on Maduro Cigars
By Gary Korb

There is so much material on the various processes for making Maduro wrapper it would take up a lot more space than I’m afforded here, so, I’ve tried to distill it down to the basics:

Let’s start with the first misconception about Maduro cigars. “Maduro cigars are stronger than ‘natural’ or lighter-colored cigars.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. First of all, “maduro” is Spanish for “ripe,” not “strong.” For that we use “fuerte.” Ironically, the longer the leaf is fermented, the darker the leaf will be and the milder it will taste. Generally speaking, Maduro wrapper tends to be sweeter in flavor. This is due to the extra amount of sunlight that leaves used for Maduro get. The more sun, the more sugars and oils the leaf will produce. And because sunlight plays an important part in the process, the leaves used for curing most maduro come from the top two-thirds of the plant. However, Maduro can be as spicy as a jalapeno with the right curing method.

Secondly, there is no actual “Maduro leaf.” As noted above, Maduro is created via a number of fermentation processes depending on what the blender is trying to achieve in terms of color, flavor and strength. The most commonly used leaves for curing Maduro are Connecticut Broadleaf, Habano, and Mexican-grown Sumatra, although Brazilian Mata Fina has become popular in recent years for its spicy properties.

In order to achieve the dark color associated with Maduro wrappers, in addition to extra sunlight, the leaves must also be fermented longer and at a higher temperature, usually as high as 150 degrees. (“Natural” wrappers are fermented at an average of 110 degrees.)

Another way to achieve a dark colored leaf is by using a method called “cooking.” Using a steam chamber that can reach temperatures of over 180 degrees, this process is known to produce some of the darkest and mildest maduro leaves.

Speaking of color, “Oscuro” is the darkest of all the maduro varieties. But not unlike the misconception for strength, oscuro simply means the leaf is virtually “black” in color and nothing more.

Some factories even use dyes and sugar to darken and sweeten the leaf. If you notice some stain on your fingers or lips, the wrapper was most likely made using this process, which most maestro tabaqueros are loathe to do.

I can assure you that all of the cigars featured in this month’s sampler are cured naturally. Check ‘em out and discover the wonderful array of flavors and aromas that they can produce when done right.

 

Author:

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

It happens. You reach into your humidor for that great cigar you’ve been looking forward to all day and you notice the wrapper is starting to peel away from the roll. If you light-up, the peel will only get worse. So what can you do? Using saliva seems like a practical solution, but rarely, if ever, works. Some cigar smokers also resort to using bee’s wax-based lip balm, but there are no guarantees with that either because it never really dries.

Acacia helps fix cracked cigar wrappersUnraveling cigars are best fixed with acacia powder, better known as gum arabic, or vegetable gum. This is what cigar rollers use for preparing the wrapper leaf and cap when they roll cigars. Gum arabic, which can be found in the baking aisle at some supermarkets, spice shops, and online, comes in powdered form. When mixed with distilled water to the right consistency, it can be a real life saver, or to put it another way, a real cigar saver. It’s also odorless and colorless. Simply apply a modest amount of the liquefied gum to the wrapper and carefully “roll” the detached portion of wrapper leaf back into place.

Another product that can be used for repairing unraveling wrappers is Pectin. Pectin comes in both powder and liquid form, and you might already have some in the house. Normally used for canning jams and jellies, when applied carefully to the wrapper leaf as described above, you should get similar results.

What about cigars that are cracked in the middle or at the foot?

When a cigar is cracked in the middle, in some cases it may be minor, but any crack in a wrapper leaf, no matter how small, is going to leak smoke and may negatively affect the way the cigar draws and burns.

The best way to repair this type of crack is to take a small piece of wrapper leaf (it could come from a cigar stub of the same blend or another cigar with the same type of wrapper leaf),
and use it to “patch” the crack, not unlike the way you’d fix a blown tire.

First, cut a piece of wrapper leaf to the approximate size you need to completely cover the crack. Then lightly wet the piece of wrapper leaf with gum arabic solution, paste it over the trouble spot and let it dry. In the meantime, go get another cigar.

If the crack starts at the foot of the cigar, first see how far up the length of the cigar the crack goes. If it’s less than an inch you might be better off cutting the cigar as cleanly as possible just above the crack. The cigar will be shorter, but you might still be able to get a decent smoke out of it. If you go that route, make sure you use a really sharp and powerful double blade cigar cutter. If the body of the cigar fits comfortably in the hole and the cutter is very sharp, snap the cutter as quickly as possible for a clean cut. Sometimes you get a rough edge, but it’s better than tossing the cigar.

If you’d rather not take any chances, repeat the process described above for repairing a crack in the middle of a cigar.

Remember, if the wrapper is cracked and you don’t have gum arabic or pectin, there is very little you can do to repair it. By having a small jar of gum arabic in the house, at least you know there’s hope.

Famous Smoke Shop

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The world's fastest, friendliest, and best place to buy cigars! Since 1939, Famous Smoke Shop has prided itself on offering the freshest, largest selection cigars at the most competitive prices, and customer service that can't be beat.


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Connecticut-seed wrapper is arguably the most commonly used leaf for premium cigars and comes mostly in two varieties. The “U.S. Connecticut Shade” variety is grown in the Windsor valley along the Connecticut River under tapados – large cheesecloth tents that prevent the sun from darkening and thickening the leaves. The “Ecuadorian Connecticut” variety is grown in Ecuador, where an ever-present cloud cover acts as a natural shade tent.

U.S. Connecticut is delicately thin, yet very pliable. When cured right, it has a golden brown color, very few veins, and is silky to the touch. The flavor is mild and subtly spicy with sweet, floral notes on the finish. The Ecuadorian-grown variety is usually a little darker in hue, has fewer veins, and offers a slightly richer flavor. However, both varieties have excellent burn properties, and when lit expose a fine, grey-white ash.

 

The cigars featured in this month’s Guide sampler are a good illustration of how Connecticut wrapper enhances the flavor of a cigar. They all have “natural” Connecticut wrappers, yet due to their filler & binder blends, present an impressive array of flavors and strength profiles.

601 Connecticut Black RobustoCAO Gold RobustoDon Tomas Special Edition CT #300Famous 70th La Aurora ChurchillGran Habano Connecticut #1 RothschildLa Campina RobustoMontecristo #2 TorpedoNub Connecticut 358Perdomo Habano CT RobustoRocky Patel American Market Robusto

Tips

Wrapper attributes that make a difference in flavor

Cigars are sorted in the factory by color. The reason for this is so when you open the box there is a consistency to each cigar’s wrapper color, making the cigars more appealing to the consumer’s eye. Additionally, if the wrapper is darker, thicker, or has more noticeable seams, the cigar will be somewhat stronger in flavor.


Some useful Connecticut leaf history


? The sandy soil of the Connecticut River Valley is very similar to the soil in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba. The growing temperature is also similar to that found in Cuba during the winter growing season when fine tobacco is produced.

? Valley farmers have been growing tobacco for binder and wrapper leaves since the early 1800′s from varieties of “Shoestring,” then Broadleaf, and Havana Seed. In the late1800′s a fine grained leaf imported from Sumatra began to replace wrapper from the valley.

? In the early 1900′s Joseph Cullman Jr. created the Connecticut Shade variety from the Hazelwood strain of Cuban tobacco crossed with Sumatran seed tobacco varieties. As in the reference above to tapados which protect the leaves from direct sunlight, the idea was to duplicate the perpetually cloudy skies found in Sumatra. (This is one of the reasons Connecticut-seed leaf is grown so successfully in Ecuador.)

 

Buyer's Guide Sampler #4
Buyer’s Guide Sampler #4: “Connecticut wrappers”
Connecticut wrapper is sought for its milder flavor and naturally sweet aroma. That’s just one of the things that makes this sampler with 10 cigars so inviting. All of the labels are first-class and boast a multitude of blends. Plus the price is ‘closer than you think’ to affordable. Get yours now at a very special Famous Smoke Shop price!

$37.99
Everyday Price: $47.99 • Retail Price: $68.34

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Famous Smoke Shop

Author:

The world's fastest, friendliest, and best place to buy cigars! Since 1939, Famous Smoke Shop has prided itself on offering the freshest, largest selection cigars at the most competitive prices, and customer service that can't be beat.