Cigar 101 – Wrapper’s Delight, Part 2 of 3
This installment of Wrapper’s Delight will cover some of the middle-ground of wrapper shades—Corojo, Criollo, Sumatra, and Habano. This is for smokers who tend to like spicier cigars and are curious as to why they have that distinctive bite. Or on the other hand, if you can’t stand fuller-bodied smokes, it’s always good to know a bit about what you don’t like.
Corojo tobacco was originally grown in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba—since the mass exodus of tobacco farmers from the country in the 1970’s, Corojo tobacco is principally grown in the Jamastran region of Honduras. Due to the strain’s susceptibility to mold and disease, many disease-resistant hybrid Corojo strains have been engineered. Corojo leaves tend to have a spicy, robust taste with notes of black pepper, earth, leather, cocoa, and cedar. They tend to be very oily and have a distinctly reddish-brown color, though they can be dark enough to make it easy to mistake them for a Maduro. Generally, if you’re not a fan of fuller-bodied smokes, you’ll want to stay away from Corojo-wrapped cigars.
Criollo tobacco is one of the original tobaccos used in cigar making, and according to some, it dates back to the late 1400’s; the term itself means “native seed.” Like Corojo wrappers, they tend to be very susceptible to disease, so most Criollo-wrapped smokes you will find feature hybrid strains like Criollo 98. Criollo wrappers tend to be slightly milder than Corojo wrappers, but still have a bit of pepper in the flavor profile. Other notes include cocoa, cedar, bread, nuts, and a bit of sweetness.
Originally hailing from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, this tobacco tends to ere on the sweeter side. A lot of Sumatra tobacco is grown from Sumatran seed in Honduras and Ecuador. Many infused cigars (like Acid and Maker’s Mark) use a Sumatra wrapper because it’s mild enough not to “argue” with the flavor infusion. Tasting notes include cinnamon, earth, floral notes, and a slightly sweet aftertaste.
Habano wrappers tend to be a bit darker than the aforementioned three, and are by far the spiciest. Habano refers not only to the fact that it’s generally grown from Cuban seed, but also to the fact that its spice level is comparable to that of a Cuban cigar. They can be grown in several countries, though a popular choice is Nicaragua, as the soil content there is conducive to producing some very strong leaves. Tasting notes include bread, intense spice, leather, cocoa, espresso, and cedar. The nicotine blast you’ll get from a typical Habano-wrapped stogie might not be the best introduction to cigar smoking. As a general rule, Habano smokes are better for more experienced smokers.
All of the above wrappers have at some point been labeled as “natural”—this simply refers to their contrast with the darker Maduro cigars in a line. Check back tomorrow for the final installment of Wrapper’s Delight, which will cover some of the darkest wrappers—Maduro and Oscuro—as well as a couple of one-offs—Cameroon and Rosado.