Anyone who knows what the wrapper leaf of a cigar is knows just how important it can be. Aside from holding the binder and filler tobacco together, the wrapper really dictates how a cigar looks. A healthy wrapper leaf that’s free of blemishes and veins usually says something about the quality of a cigar, and when folks are browsing at a cigar shop, first impressions are definitely important. On top of determining a cigar’s appearance, it’s also been estimated that the wrapper can account for 60% to 90% of a cigar’s flavor. That’s one important leaf!
So let’s examine the different kinds of wrapper leaves out there, and what they bring to the table regarding color, flavor, and other characteristics. Now, there are technically dozens of different kinds of wrappers out there, from the light green candela to the black oscuro. For simplicity, we’re going to focus on the four most common, basic wrappers: Connecticut, Corojo, Habano, and Maduro.
Connecticut wrapper leaves aren’t just grown in their namesake state, but several northeastern states, primarily along the Connecticut River. While these tobacco leaves grow, they are kept in the shade. In fact, you may even see this wrapper referred to as a “Connecticut Shade.” By keeping the plants out of the direct sunlight, they generally produce lower levels of nicotine, making for a nice mellow smoke.
A slightly darker shade than the light Connecticut leaf, the Corojo is also a step up in its fullness and strength of flavor. These wrapper leaves are mostly grown in Honduras and are known for being tough and resilient. Flavor-wise, Corojo cigars are often noted for their spicy, peppery taste and medium-bodied strength.
The Habano is considerably similar to the Corojo in both color and flavor. However, as opposed to the light pepper flavor notes of the Corojo, Habano cigars deliver a more robust spiciness. Grown primarily in Nicaragua, the nicotine-rich Habano wrapper can be powerful for first-time smokers, but many grow to love them.
Finally, we have the popular, dark brown Maduro wrapper. Maduro literally translates to “ripe,” and given the lengthy aging process that goes into producing these wrapper leaves, that may be an understatement. Once aged long enough, these thick leaves take on their signature dark color and achieve a sweetness that is unique to Maduro cigars. With flavors that often evoke chocolate and coffee, it’s little wonder why Maduros are known as “dessert smokes.”
As mentioned above, there are many other wrappers to seek out and add to your humidor. Still, knowing what to expect from these four wrapper leaves is key to picking and choosing a smoke that’s right for you.