10 Oscuro Cigars You Should Be Smoking
By Gary Korb
Don’t be intimidated by that dark cigar! Chances are, you’re gonna like it. I’m referring to maduro cigars; but for the purposes of this article, we’re going to dive several shades deeper into the domain of oscuro cigars. Sometimes referred to as “double maduro,” Oscuro refers to the nearly jet-black wrappers you see on many of the best cigars. (NOTE: The true definition of a “double maduro” cigar is one that has both, a maduro wrapper and a maduro binder.) Due to their extreme color, many new cigar smokers get the impression that a cigar with an oscuro wrapper is going to be strong. Moreover, if it’s dark and oily, it may look even more daunting to the unexperienced eye.
That said, first we must define what an oscuro wrapper leaf is, and how it gets so dark. In Spanish, “oscuro” means “blackish” or “dark.” The leaves themselves are usually taken from the first priming on the plant. These leaves that grow at the very top of the plant are called the corona, which is Spanish for “crown.”
Because they sit at the top of the plant, coronas get the most sunlight, and the longer they remain on the plant, the darker they tend to be after fermentation. Some tobacco growers refer to these wrappers as medio tiempo, or “half time,” because they’ve been left on the plant 50% longer. (I know, the term sounds like it means 50% shorter, but I’m not going to argue with centuries of expertise.) By doing this the leaves actually being their curing process while still on the plant. The end result is a wrapper that’s thicker, much darker, richer in flavor, and sweeter.
Tobacco leaves used often on both maduro and oscuro cigars include heartier strains such as Connecticut broadleaf, Mexican San Andres Negro, Brazilian Mata Fina and Arapiraca, and Nicaraguan Habano. During the fermentation process, oscuro leaves receive shorter fermentation times at lower temperatures than those used for your typical maduro. Following fermentation, the leaves are aged in bales or barrels, depending on the manufacturer. During the aging period the leaves begin to take on an even darker color ranging anywhere from dark brown to pitch black. Suffice it to say, oscuro leaves are not necessarily determined by their color; rather, they are determined by the process used to create them.
Now that we have a handle on what oscuro wrappers are, let’s look at some cigars that will give you a firsthand understanding of these dark, delectable leaves.
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10 Humidor-worthy Oscuro Cigars
This bold new addition to this bestselling line from Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, features an extra dark Nicaraguan Habano oscuro wrapper that caps a savory blend of Nicaraguan ligeros, for an extra wide and full-bodied smoke that’s loaded with flavors of spice, earthiness, and dark semi-sweet chocolate.
Oily, Honduran Cuban-seed oscuro wrappers lend a delicious balance to this cigar’s full-flavored Nicaraguan-Honduran core. More experienced smokers will appreciate the complexity within, as a peppery start gives way to deep, dark tobacco flavors with an ample amount of sweetness, and an alluring aroma.
If you like any of the La Gloria Serie R cigars, look out; this Serie N is pure dynamite. Using proprietary Nicaraguan tobaccos at the core, the glistening “Capa Oscura” wrapper is a stunner. Distinguished by its “N” tobacco tattoo, this full-bodied big boy offers complex flavors by the pound in an impressively refined smoke.
A medium-full cigar with a diverse blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers is made all the more tempting by its extra dark and savory oscuro wrapper leaf. Light it up and set your taste buds free for a sweet, nutty, and creamy smoke underscored by notes of espresso and other earthy flavors.
Flawlessly handcrafted with spicy Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan ligero tobaccos, this cigar boasts a Connecticut Havano oscuro wrapper, which is a smaller, thicker and spicier leaf than Connecticut Broadleaf. The smoke steps up to the plate and swings for the fence with smooth, stout, and perfectly-balanced flavors making it a great after-dinner cigar.
Here you have a true classic from the legendary Punch imprint made with its signature blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican tobaccos rolled in an extra dark oscuro wrapper. The smoke is exceptionally smooth, well-balanced, and offers a richer taste profile imbued with earthy, woody and sweet-spicy flavors.
An Ecuadorian Habano oscuro wrapper leads-off a robusto-size smoke packed with an all-Nicaraguan center. Made by My Father Cigars, Pete (Tatuaje Cigars) Johnson had a hand in blending this full-flavored beauty. Dark, spicy Nicaraguan flavor abounds, accentuated by a stretch of sweet tobacco. If you like Don Pepin’s gift for making great cigars, add the Tramp Stamp to your “must smoke” list.
Speaking of My Father cigars, the Le Bijou 1922 series is without peer. Created by Jaime Garcia, this Toro dons a shimmering Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper. Below deck lies a perfectly-aged, full-bodied blend of earthy Nicaraguan tobaccos that combine for a sweet, creamy smoke that builds to a bold and spicy buffet of flavors.
A healthy mix of ripe Nicaraguan tobaccos with a shot of sweet Brazilian long-filler is rolled in a Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro for this Jaxx robusto. Medium-full in body, the smoke enters with a jolt of ligero spice that settles into a well-balanced brew of espresso, mocha, wood, and sweet spice flavors that command your attention.
Another Pete Johnson creation made with the finest Nicaraguan tobaccos capped by an inviting Ecuadorian Habano oscuro wrapper. Priced affordably, this robusto has a medium-full flavor profile that smokes with dead-center balance and a spicy aroma. Flavors of dark wood, earth, and sweet spice flow effortlessly across the palate for a very satisfying and memorable smoke.