Cigar 101: Wrapper’s Delight, Part 3 of 3
Maduro means “mature” or “ripe” in Spanish, and that’s exactly what these dark brown leaves are. The process of making a true Maduro wrapper involves a great deal of time. After the leaves are picked, they’re stored in a curing barn for up to 45 days, until their color turns from green to a rich brown. They are then aged for years to achieve an even darker color. The aging process also brings out the natural sugars in the tobacco leaves, giving darker cigars their distinct caramel sweetness. The leaves used for Maduro wrappers must be significantly thicker than the others, as they undergo a lengthy fermentation process that could make thinner leaves simply disintegrate.
Unfortunately, some companies will take shortcuts with the aging process like heating the leaves or sometimes even dying them. Luckily, however, the vast majority of manufacturers stick to tradition and age their Maduro leaves the honest, old fashioned way. Maduro wrappers can boast a myriad of tasting notes, including dark chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, caramel, molasses, black pepper, dried fruit, black cherry, and sometimes even a boozy taste, depending on how they are aged. The common sweetness in Maduro-wrapped cigars often earns them the designation of nighttime or “dessert” smokes.
Sometimes known as Double Maduro or Maduro Maduro, Oscuro wrappers are the darkest of the dark. They’re fermented for longer than Maduro leaves, which gives them deeper sweetness and often a stronger, richer flavor. Tasting notes in Oscuro-wrapped cigars include many of the same ones as Maduro-wrapped, with a bit of added strength and sweetness.
It’s important to understand that the terms Double Maduro and Maduro Maduro are often used to mean different things. While they can mean “extra dark” or “extra ripe,” the terms can also refer to Maduro tobacco being used in multiple parts of the cigar. For example, a Double Maduro cigar can have Maduro wrapper and binder. A Triple Maduro cigar (like the A. Turrent Triple Play) uses Maduro wrapper, binder, and filler.
Cameroon wrappers, as their name would suggest, originate from Cameroon, and are sometimes grown in the Central African Republic. The grain of the leaves is very recognizable, and is often referred to as “toothy.” Cameroon wrappers tend to be somewhat delicate and are not very oily, which makes them unlikely candidates for Maduro fermentation. Cameroon-wrapped cigars tend to be very rich tasting while remaining smooth and manageable. Tasting notes include butter, black pepper, leather, and toast.
One of the more uncommon wrapper shades is Rosado, which translates to “rosy” or “pinkish” in Spanish. These wrappers have a distinct reddish hue and are extremely difficult to grow outside of Cuba, which means that only a handful of companies are lucky enough to have a supply of this leaf. This makes Rosado-wrapped cigars rare and highly sought after. Typically, these cigars are very spicy with notes of cedar, coffee, earth, and pepper.
So this ends Cigar 101: Wrapper’s Delight. There are a few things I need to clarify about the multitude of different wrapper shades. First off, despite the fact that I listed a whole bunch of tasting notes for each cigar, I have to add that cigar tasting is highly subjective. While some tasting notes in cigars are more obvious than others, there are always nuances that some people taste and some simply don’t. For example, to some of my coworkers’ bewilderment, I tend to taste booze in a lot of the cigars I smoke, whether or not I’m actually having a drink with the cigar. Secondly, a lot of wrapper shades can have tastes that are uncharacteristic of their type; I’ve had Connecticut-wrapped cigars that were stronger than some Maduros, and I’ve had Maduros that could one-punch-KO some heavyweight Habanos.
So don’t be put off of smoking a cigar because of the color of its wrapper—there could be some taste elements in there that you won’t find in any other cigar. As I mentioned earlier, I hope this gave some new insight to novice smokers, and I hope that even experienced smokers learned something from this series.