Cigar Buying Guides

Best Buying Guide To Connecticut Shade Cigar Wrappers & Tobacco

Cigar Advisor Picks: Top 10 Connecticut Shade Wrapper Cigar Recommendations

Updated January 2023

To paraphrase Dylan, ‘I started out on Connecticuts, but soon hit the harder stuff.’

They say you never forget your first. And like many others, mine was a fair and golden beauty dressed in a silky Connecticut Shade. What I didn’t know, however, was that the wrapper draping the Avo Classic No. 9—the premium that ignited a passion that sustains me 30 years later—wasn’t even grown in Connecticut. But before we get to Ecuador, let’s look back at the Connecticut River Valley and how this tobacco leaf came to be made in the shade.

Rooted in New England

Tobacco cultivation began in the Connecticut River Valley—an area stretching from just north of Hartford and into Massachusetts—in the 1600s. But it wasn’t until after the Civil War and subsequent increased competition from Indonesia—in the form of Sumatra tobacco—that the Connecticut Shade wrapper was born.

guide to Connecticut Shade cigars cigar tobacco growing under shade in Windsor, Ct

By 1900, using Sumatra seed as a base, a hybrid was successfully grown under wide bands of translucent cloth—called a tapado—to mimic the humidity and shade cover of Indonesia. The resulting Connecticut Shade leaf was up to the task and today is one of the finest wrappers around.

Today you’ll find Connecticut Shade tobacco grown in places other than Connecticut—like Ecuador, where the climate and natural cloud cover eliminate the need for cloth. The resulting wrapper leaf is thinner with a smoother texture. That’s not the only difference however, as the soil—or terroir—also plays a factor.

Connecticut Shade tobacco growing under cheesecloth or tapado in the field

But enough of the history lesson, let’s get to the good stuff—the cigars. Included below are blends spanning from old-school mellow favorites to new-school Connecticuts with a kick.

Montecristo Classic

If your grandfather enjoyed an occasional cigar back in the day—it was probably a Montecristo. A choice Connecticut shade wrapper tops off a blend of premium Dominican long-fillers, displaying notes of wood and earth with a crisp, light spice to finish. Try the No. 2—it’s the staple—and see for yourself why the Montecristo Classic is considered the standard bearer of Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars.

Macanudo Café

If it wasn’t a Monte, it was a Mac. Macanudo are among the top selling cigars in the world and have been the first love for many enthusiasts. Dominican and Mexican long fillers give off notes of bright tobacco along with earth and nuts that’ll tantalize your palate. A great chance to experience the mellow and creamy profile enthusiasts consider the ideal in Connecticut Shade cigars.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve

Oliva made their mark with high-octane blends, and Connecticut Reserve broke the mold. Utilizing an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper over a core of bold Nicaraguan long filler, this blend strays from the herd. With a solid mild-medium body, flavors entice—including cedar and coffee with underlying spice. A mellow cigar suitable for full-bodied enthusiasts, I’d recommend trying Oliva Connecticut Reserve for a welcome change of pace.

Camacho Connecticut

Camacho is known for full-bodied, potent, and intense cigars. Or was. With Camacho Connecticut, the brand made serious inroads with fans of milder cigars without alienating their core base. This blend features an Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper over Honduran and Dominican tobaccos with flavors of cream and vanilla, with hints of coffee and citrus. Consider making space in your rotation for Camacho Connecticut – I’ll bet you find it a refreshing alternative.

My Father Connecticut

The black sheep of the My Father family. Draped with a flawless Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper hugging a blend of prime Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos, this cigar remains mellow in the face of an onslaught of flavor. Construction is perfect as it progresses through notes of baking spices, chocolate, and earth displaying complexity and balance. Add My Father Connecticut to your cigar family and see how a spice master tames the fire.

Southern Draw Rose of Sharon

Not your granddaddy’s mild Connecticut. This medium bodied handmade is dressed in an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper embracing vigorous long fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Crafted to honor Sharon Holt—wife of Southern Draw’s founder, Robert Holt—this blend does its muse proud with a wonderful profile reminiscent of leather, oak, and earth. Definitely top-notch and worth a try if you’re looking to have a crack at the new school of Connecticut wrapped cigars.

Siboney Reserve Connecticut

The next step forward in Connecticut wrapped cigars. Featuring a hardy blend of premium Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo tobaccos grown on Aganorsa’s farms, this blend cranks up the flavor without sacrificing the character of its wrapper. Notes of vanilla, cedar, and black pepper keep this blend entertaining from first light to finger burning nub. Bonus: this premium is priced for everyday enjoyment.

Perdomo Small Batch Connecticut

This limited-edition beauty features only the best Nicaraguan long fillers from Estelí, Condega, and Jalapa and is dressed in an elegant Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. Smooth and balanced, you’ll be greeted with cedar, spice, and flavors of toast while the creamy texture and balance will remind you of cigars costing twice as much. It’s time you give this limited edition a spin.

Brick House Connecticut

This cigar features a Connecticut Shade wrapper over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder making it one of the few premium handmades with a U.S. Connecticut wrapper/binder combination. A stout core of Nicaraguan long leaf tobaccos completes the blend and delivers a familiar undercurrent of spice. Well-balanced, creamy, and toasty with additional notes of hay, coffee, cedar, and leather, this is one cigar that outperforms its price.

Undercrown Shade

A smooth stunner, Shade is the second Undercrown released by Drew Estate. This celebrated Connecticut comes loaded with Dominican Criollo ’98 and Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo tobaccos, a Sumatran binder, and seductive Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The Undercrown Shade is medium bodied and loaded with flavors of toast, nuts, spice, and cream, with light sweetness present throughout. This may be Willy Herrera’s magnum opus and stands out as a Drew Estate blend worthy of prime real estate in any enthusiast’s humidor.

It’s time to reevaluate cigars with Connecticut Shade wrappers. No longer the domain of newbies and grandfather’s, these blends have undergone an evolution to keep pace with today’s enthusiast. With so many choices encompassing the flavor spectrum, it’s about time to reserve some room for Connecticut Shade cigars in your rotation.