When browsing our site, you’ll find that cigars come in an array of different colors. Among the various shades of brown to be found in any given selection of cigars, you’ll notice some that are significantly darker than the others. These cigars are made with “maduro” wrapper leaves, and you need not fear them. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re not “the evil ones”, and, contrary to popular belief, they’re also not necessarily stronger than other cigars.
Why then, are these cigars so dark in appearance, and how do they differ from lighter-hued cigars?
For starters, no tobacco leaf begins its life as a maduro. The term “maduro”, in Spanish, means “ripe,” and in the cigar world it refers to tobacco leaves that have undergone a special curing process in order to achieve a specific set of characteristics. During the lengthy fermentation period, heat and moisture are gradually introduced to the leaves through various means, converting the plant’s natural starches into sugar. The end result is a dark and often oily-looking tobacco with a smooth, sweet taste.
The labor-intensive maduro process does not make any given type of tobacco stronger in either taste or nicotine content. In fact, it mellows the tobacco, taking some of the “bite” out of the leaf’s rich natural flavors. While maduro cigars range in strength from mellow all the way to full-bodied, it is not their “maduro-ness” that dictates their potency. So then, what does?
That’s another good question. You’re just full of them today.
A cigar is only as strong as the tobaccos used to make it. Like most plants, tobacco comes in a diverse range of varietals, each with its own defining set of traits, including its nicotine potential. Since nicotine is an alkaloid, any given tobacco’s nicotine level is also influenced by the pH level of the soil that it is grown in.
Another important factor in determining tobacco strength is the position on the plant of the leaves. The top leaves on a stalk of tobacco known as “ligero”, are the strongest on the plant. This is because they are the first leaves to sprout, and as a result spend the longest time on the stalk and get the most prolonged exposure to the sun. Tobacco naturally develops its flavor and character, including strength, based on the quality of the nutrients it absorbs from the soil and sunlight it is provided.
So, whether your cigar is wrapped in a maduro leaf or not, its strength depends on the tobaccos used to make it, and especially on how much potent ligero went into its blend. For example, the 92-rated Ashton Aged Maduro, one of the darkest cigars in our inventory, is also one of the most mellow in body. In contrast, the Saint Luis Rey Serie G Natural wears a silky, golden-hued wrapper and is undeniably full in robust strength.
You should never judge a cigar solely based on the color of its wrapper – instead, get to know it a little bit and you can choose a smoke that’s suited for your tastes.