​A Guide to Cigar Wrappers - Maduro

​A Guide to Cigar Wrappers - Maduro
4 months ago No comments

Maduro Cigar Wrappers

Maduro Cigar WrappersSecond in popularity only to the ubiquitous Connecticut Shade, the Maduro wrapper is perhaps the most versatile of all tobacco types used to coat a vitola. From mild and creamy to bold and potent, these delightfully dark wrappers can complement any type of flavor profile. For this reason, while it might take a little bit of effort on your part to make sure a particular frontmark is what you're looking for, it also means there is much to explore and discover about Maduro cigars. Let's cover the basics so you can get to the fun part, actually smoking them!

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History and Production of Maduro wrappers

It might seem to the average enthusiast that Maduro cigars would or at least should have a long and illustrious legacy, harvested for decades or even centuries while satisfying the tastes of generations of smokers, but the reality is more mundane. The first Maduro wrappers began to appear less than fifty years ago, produced by leaving the highest leaves on the stalk, AKA the corona, to ripen in the sun longer than usual. These leaves, already thicker and darker as a result, would turn an even more dark brown color than normal during fermentation. At first a hard sell in a market saturated by Shade and Natural wrappers, the slightly sweet flavor of a Maduro began to find ever more favor among the smoking public and they were soon on their way to super stardom.

To keep up with demand, other methods were needed to create Maduro wrappers and since the name simply means that the wrapper is dark in color, it didn't take long for industrious brands to find new ways to add some coffee-hued, some better than others. Dyeing and other means to artificially darken the leaves were employed by a few unscrupulous brands, especially during the Cigar Boom of the 1990's, but today the vast majority of Maduro wrappers are created by a harvesting and fermentation process that uses extended time and high heat to let the color develop naturally. It certainly doesn't hurt that the sugars created in the leaves during their long rest in the curing barn can create some of the most complex and delightful flavors to be found in quality tobacco.

Today, the Maduro wrapper is created using many types of tobacco but there are two varieties that stand above the rest, the Mexican San Andres and the Connecticut Broadleaf. Each has its own unique characteristics compared to other tobaccos thanks to the way in which they are grown, harvested, and fermented. How about some fun details?

Connecticut Broadleaf

Quite unlike the tall and elegant Connecticut Shade tobacco plant, which spends luxurious days stretching to great heights beneath thin cotton tenting to protect delicate leaves, the Connecticut Broadleaf is a stubby and rugged crop fully prepared to thrive beneath the harsh rays of the sun. Aptly named due to the size of the leaf, some closing in on three feet long, Broadleaf came to the Connecticut Valley in the 1830's and quickly became the crop of choice for farmers looking to grow something beyond the narrow 'shoe string' tobacco that had been their main source of income. More tobacco per plant combined with the utility of Broadleaf as a major flavor-builder in any blend soon meant complete domination of the landscape.

Growing to what is best described as 'waist high', once ready for harvest the entire tobacco plant is stalk cut by a swift and sure chop at ground level with a hardened steel hatchet, then bundled with others of its kind on long, spiked sticks for transport to the curing barn. Remaining on the stalk during the initial stages of curing, it takes weeks for the sticky green leaves to dry and darken in the heat to transform into what just might be the most flavorful tobacco you've ever placed between your lips. If thick, delicious, and robust smoke is what you're after no matter the strength, then Connecticut Broadleaf, whether as part or all of the filler, used as the binder, or best of all as the wrapper, is the way to go.

Mexican San Andres

Comparatively thinner and more delicate than Broadleaf while still being quite a beefy leaf, the scrumptious Mexican San Andres tobacco is no less a delightful addition to blends of all types. Coincidentally brought to Mexico during the same timeframe as Broadleaf was to Connecticut, in the 1830's, it took much longer for the qualities of the tobaccos grown in the San Andres Valley to be appreciated by the masses. In the decade spent recovering from the Cuban Revolution and the resulting embargo, cigar manufacturers needed to find alternate sources of longleaf to satisfy the continued demand for Cuban-style cigars and the lush fields of Veracruz were already ready for the task.

The nutrient rich volcanic soil of the area combined with a climate both hot and humid results in a juicy crop full of dense carbohydrates primed for transformation into complex sugars by a long, slow fermentation. Undergoing a stalk cut harvesting just like Broadleaf, the tobaccos of the San Andres Valley are given ample time to develop their characteristic earthy, chocolatey flavor and color before delivery to the eager hands of skilled torcedors in Nicaragua, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and even further afield. In addition to providing a tasty kick to nearly all types of cigars from mild to knee-knocking, the strong and supple leaves are at their best as a wrapper thanks to their wonderful appearance, mouth-watering aroma, and a capacity for keeping it all together.

Exploring Maduros

No matter if you're already a huge fan seeking the next daily favorite or are looking to make your first forays into the succulent world of Maduro cigars, you couldn't have picked a better time to dig in. Maduro-wrapped cigars have never been more varied and so widely available. From world famous brands to the most exotic and rare boutique frontmarks, there's a dark, toothy, and oily cigar out there for every budget and occasion. Having a humidor full of a variety of Maduros, and only Maduros, is not uncommon and might actually be an achievement to strive for. So browse around and start or expand your collection, because you'll never run out of something new to try.

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