Tobacco in Cigars
There are three principle types of tobacco used in the making of a cigar. As a cigar smoker, it is important to know about this because the various sellers that you will invariably buy from will use this terminology to describe what the cigar is like. All these various elements will come together to give you a very specific type of smoke. The three types of tobacco used in making a cigar:
  • Filler - Either Long Filler or Short Filler (Long Filler is preferable). Short filler has been chopped up, and sometimes contains the “garbage” pieces left over from the many cuts made from previous cigars. The long filler is what makes up the main body of the cigar, and is responsible for the primary taste of the cigar.
  • Binder - A stronger tobacco (in tensile strength) that is used to bind and hold the filler tobacco together.
  • Wrapper - The smoothest, least veined, and most beautiful tobacco is saved for the outer layer, giving the final cigar a finished, oily look. The wrapper will add a certain profile to the cigar’s flavor that many people will get very finicky over. Many different kinds of wrapper are available in cigars. The names used in describing the wrapper refer to the color. Retailers will sometimes refer to wrappers being a Connecticut wrapper, which refers to Connecticut-grown (generally shade-grown) tobacco.
    • Claro - A yellowish or light tan colored, shade-grown wrapper. (A very light, slightly green wrapper is called Double Claro [also called Candela, American Market Selection or Jade] and is usually from Connecticut).
    • Colorado - Generally from Cuba or Domincan Republic, this tobacco has a medium brown color (also called Rosado or Corojo - referring to the Cuban seed it was grown from). 
    • Natural - Sun grown tobacco. A light to medium brown color.
    • Maduro - Spanish for “Mature,” and refers to how long this tobacco has been aging. The tobacco is a dark brown, or a very dark brown.
    • Oscuro - A.k.a. “Double Maduro” - A very dark brown or even black color, with an oily appearance. This tobacco is usually grown in Cuba, Connecticut, Brazil, Mexico or Nicaragua.
Note: The Colorado variety of wrapper is also found in Claro and Maduro varieties.
Note: Darker Cigars are generally a fuller flavor, and sometimes a fuller bodied smoke, but they will invariably smoke slower than a lighter colored tobacco.
Tobacco is grown all over the world. Because of the variety in composition of the soil in different parts of the world, a tobacco from one country will taste quite different from a tobacco grown in the country next door. Another thing that influences the flavor of a tobacco is the seed that is used in growing it. The tobacco from Cuba is considered a prized item because of the fullness of flavor it produces.
As stated above, tobacco is grown everywhere. While most people associate tobacco growth with tropical climates, such as the southern U.S. or South America, the truth is that tobacco is quite a hardy plant and has been grown in a variety of climates. The vast majority of tobacco is still grown in the tropical climates however.
  • Dominican Republic - A majority of the fine quality, premium cigars are produced in the Dominican Republic. Characterized by a rich, full flavor, and a smooth smoke.
  • Cuba - The world’s finest tobacco comes from Cuba. Cuban tobacco is generally full-bodied, full flavored, and packed with spice, flavor, and aroma. Unfortunately, this tobacco is illegal in the US (being based in the US, we will not have the opportunity to review many of Cuban cigars).
  • Ecuador - Because of the cloudiness of the climate in Ecuador, many beautiful shade-grown wrappers have been grown there. These produce a mild taste, but one that is still quite flavorful. The tobacco’s heritage originates in Connecticut and Sumatra.
  • Honduras - Another producer of fine quality cigars. Characteristically rich, and mildly peppery.
  • Nicaragua - Many people claim that Nicaragua’s growing conditions are most similar to Cuba’s. Their wrapper and filler is highly prized, though Nicaraguan tobacco is impossible to get in the UK at all.
  • United States - The Connecticut River Valley grew some of the finest wrapper leaf tobacco to date. The wrappers known as Connecticut Shade (grown under a tent) are characterized by a mild, neutral flavor. The Connecticut Broadleaf (grown in the shade)(the other main type) is courser, darker and sweeter. These are usually rolled into maduro cigars.
  • Cameroon/Central African Republic - Their tobacco is mostly grown for the wrappers they produce, and the leaves are dark, rich, and a reddish-brown. Their flavors range from a mild smoke to a rich, spicy flavor. The tooth of the cigar (bumpiness in the leaf due to oil pockets in the leaf that, when burned, open the pockets and release flavor) is especially apparent in Cameroon wrappers.
  • Brazil - Brazilian growing regions produce medium bodied tobacco as well as full bodied tobacco for both filler and wrappers.
  • Mexico - Though the tobacco is somewhat drier than other dark tobaccos, the tobacco from Mexico is noted for a good binder leaf and a rather spicy maduro wrapper. They produce filler, binder, and wrappers.
  • Sumatra/Java - The tobacco is grown from a seed originating in the U.S., though it is now grown in numerous countries. The leaf (the wrapper leaf is most used) is generally a dark brown with a mild or neutral flavor.