IPCPR was a blast this year with almost everyone in the business releasing their newest and greatest cigars, one of which is the brand new CAO Flathead. We got a first hand opportunity to try this cigar and let you know all about it before it hits shelves in the coming months and to be honest, it looks like this is going to be a hot cigar. Continue reading
I 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.
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.
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.
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.