This section covers the most popular cigar questions and answers.
Q: What is the proper humidity to maintain in a humidor?
A: Between 65 and 75 percent humidity (70 being optimum)
Q:What is the proper temperature to store cigars?
A: Maintaining cigars at 70 degrees will allow for proper ageing without risk of mould, or insects.
Q: How do I maintain proper humidity in my humidor?
A: To maintain proper humidification in your humidor, moisten the humidifier (humistat) – a sponge type of material in a vented case which mounts to some part of the humidor (usually the lid) – initially with a 50/50 mixture of 50% distilled water and 50% PG (propylene glycol) then monthly or as needed with distilled water.
Q:What is a hygrometer?
A: A hygrometer is a device that measures relative humidity.
Q: Why is proper humidification important?
A: Too much humidity can be harmful to the cigar, causing mildew and sometimes rot. So, if humidity goes above 75 degrees, leave the lid open for short periods until humidity levels drop. Too little humidity will dry cigars out, causing them to burn too hot. If this happens, sometimes they can be restored to some degree of freshness with proper humidification.
Q: How long can cigars be stored?
A: Indefinitely. Some cigars have been maintained in perfect condition for 50 or 100 years.
Q: What does “machine made” mean?
A: Machine-made cigars are produced using automated techniques to assemble the filler with the binder and wrapper.
Q: What does “hand rolled” mean?
A: Hand-rolled cigars are assembled using a combination of automated and manual techniques. Automated techniques are used to assemble the filler, and the cigar is hand-rolled to completion.
Q: What is a cigar punch?
A: A cigar punch is a device used to make a small hole in the end of a cigar prior to smoking.
Q: What is a cigar bullet?
A: A cigar bullet, like the name implies, resembles a bullet casing. The open end of the casing is used to cut a small diameter hole in the end of the cigar prior to smoking.
Q: How do cigars from different countries taste?
A: Cigars from Jamaica are considered mild. Cigars from the Dominican Republic are medium in strength, and cigars from Honduras and Nicaragua have a stronger taste.
Q: How does size affect cigar taste?
A: Generally, larger ring size, diameter cigars are more flavourful. Longer cigars smoke cooler.
Q: How do I blow smoke rings?
A: Draw in a puff of smoke. Then, with your tongue pressed down and back and your mouth forming an “O”, push out smoke using your mouth only. Don’t exhale.
Q: What makes a proper lighter for cigars?
A: There are 2 critical features you should look for. First, the type of fuel it uses. It must be a clean burning fuel such as butane. Most other lighter fuels give off a chemical or kerosene-like odour that will alter the taste of your cigar. Secondly, the lighter must provide a large enough flame to light the whole cigar. For some reason (probably to conserve fuel), many disposable lighters no longer have an adjustable flame, and only burn at about a 3/8th inch tall. This is too small, so cigar smokers must find one that is a designed with cigar needs in mind. The “blowtorch” style lighters have become very popular, because they burn at an extremely high temperature, and can do the job from several inches away. Remember, to properly light the cigar, you never want to actually put the foot directly into the flame. The larger and hotter your flame is, the further away you can keep the cigar from it and gently draw the heat up.
Q: Does my humidor need a hygrometer?
A: It is a nice feature, but not necessary. It is always more important to feel your cigars and judge how they are smoking than rely on the reading of the hygrometer. Do they crackle when you cut the cap, does the wrapper flake when you handle them? If yes, they are too dry. Its time to add some water. Do they smell musty, feel spongy, sizzle or split when you smoke them? If yes, they are too moist, and you added water too much or too often. Back off on the water for a while. If it is alarmingly damp n there you can stick a few cedar planks (provided from a box of cigars-you can break off the lid or sides if you need to) into the humidor for a few days to absorb the excess moisture. New smokers are obsessed with the reading of the analogue hygrometer. Even a correctly calibrated analogue model has a variance of 5-10%. Therefore, you need to let the cigars tell you if you are maintaining them properly. Only operators of commercial storage or “walk-in” humidors need to keep an eye on the humidity as they usually don’t touch and feel the cigars as we do. If you are completely obsessed with having an accurate hygrometer you can go to Radio Shack and blow 40 bucks on a digital one.
Q: How do I carry my cigars when I travel or when I am out?
A: You must protect the cigar in some fashion, as it will either dry out or get bruised. Here are the options you can chose which best suits your needs.
Cigar Tubes: A tube will hold one cigar. If it has a good seal, it will protect it for many days or even weeks. They can be constructed of any type of material, ranging from plastic to platinum, and will be priced accordingly. Some even have tiny humidification devices built in, but this is not necessary for short term use. The only downside to these carrying tubes is that if your friend has one it means that he did not bring a cigar for you.
Finger Cases: These are cases made from either leather, metal, wood, or plastic. They will have 2-4 “fingers” for the cigars. The leather models are soft cases, and are most often made from 2 telescoping pieces, that slide within each other. They are made for specific length cigars, but will often handle a variance of 1-1.5 inches more than they were designed for. Sometimes they have individual slots for each cigar, but these are not absolutely necessary. These cases will provide several hours of protection and are perfect for a night out. They are not heavy and will not show a bulge by weighing down your shirt or jacket pocket. The metal, wood, or plastic varieties are hard cases, providing more protection from both the elements and from being crushed. However, they are bulky, will pull down on your clothing, if they even fit into the pockets. They are more suited for carrying in a briefcase or golf bag. Elaborate ones can have miniature humidification devices, but these are only necessary if you want to insure the cigar’s freshness for an extended period of time.
Travel Humidors: Travel humidors are miniature humidors, complete with a humidification element. As the name implies, they are used when you need to take your smokes out of town. They will hold between 4 and 20 cigars, depending on size. They are made from wood, metal, plastic, or any combination of these materials. As this is a short term storage unit, a Spanish cedar lining is a nice cosmetic touch, but not an automatic prerequisite. There are many poorly designed models on the market, and you should look for the following features and pitfalls when considering the purchase. First and foremost, the seal must be a good one. The seal on travel size humidors should either have the same type of interlocking “lips” that a full size one has, or a gasket of some kind. You need to be confident that moist air is not escaping. Another important feature is the interior protection it offers for the cigars from being knocked around. Will they continue to slam into each other or the walls of the unit? Well designed ones will be built very thinly, so that you can only stack the cigars in one or two layers, thus minimising the potential for damage. Good alternatives to keeping the cigars in place have grooves cut into them (usually moulded plastic), foam egg cushions, or straps that act as seatbelts. These features are useful, but not completely necessary, as you can always put some balled up bubble wrap into a half filled humidor to prevent them from jostling. This is not exactly elegant, but extremely functional. The last key factor when examining a travel humidor is its strength. You want the unit to stand up to external stress, without breaking. A good, functional travel humidor will have all of these features.
Q: What makes a good ashtray for cigars?
A: Ashtrays are more important than you think, and there are three features to look for. First, the ash container must be large or deep enough to hold all the ash-drops that a cigar creates. Second, it should be sturdy enough to absorb an incidental shock without getting tipped over. Third, it should have a groove wide enough to support a cigar on a horizontal level. The cigar should not be tilting down with the coal resting in the base of the tray. This can suffocate the one side that is touching the tray and cause the cigar might to burn unevenly. Remember, if you are taking a puff every minute or so, you should be keeping the cigar safe and sound in a good ashtray the rest of the time. You can not just keep it in your hand the whole time, as you will not be able to juggle the remote control and your single malt.
Q: How do I calibrate my analogue hygrometer?
A: Take your hygrometer out of the humidor and wrap it in several layers of dripping wet paper towels. Leave it alone for 5 minutes. During this waiting, go find your “precision” screwdriver set. Once you have found it, go and un-wrap the hygrometer unit. If it is operating correctly, it should be registering between 95-100. If not, take the appropriate size screwdriver and stick it through the hole on the bottom and look for a screw that looks like it is connected to the axis of the dial’s needle. Turn this screw to until the dial reads 95. If you took more than 1 minute to find the screw and turn it, then repeat the entire process, to ensure you have calibrated it as accurately as you could. You may have to go through this ritual every 3-6 months to ensure as much accuracy as possible. But remember, even a properly calibrated analogue hygrometer can have a 5-10% error rate, so always keep that in mind if you think you have a problem with your moisture level.
Q: What is a “premium” cigar?
A: The term “premium”, when applied to cigars, indicates that it is not a machine made, mass market style to cigar. In order to be classified as such, it will have the following characteristics: Premium cigars are constructed from three parts; The filler, the binder, and the wrapper. The filler is the interior of the cigar. When a cigar is examined from the open end, the filler can be seen as the leaves that are twisted in spirals within the centre of the cigar. When the term “long filler” is used, it means that the filler was constructed from full leaves. These leaves are picked, stored, and aged intact, and are obviously handled with great care. Rolling long filler cigars takes great skill to insure that it burns evenly and smoothly. The second type of filler is short filler. Short filler consists of loose clippings of leaves that are leftover from the long filler production, or leaves that broke anywhere along the cultivation process. Premium short filler cigars are made from 100% tobacco leaves, but just not the same leaf from end to end. Short filler cigars are still technically considered to be “premium”, so long as the cigar is still completely hand made, and is constructed only from pure, untreated or un homogenised tobacco. The next part of the cigar consists of several layers of leaves that encircle the spirals of filler. These layers are termed “binder”. As the name implies, it forms the filler into a circular shape, so that the next and final component, the wrapper, can be applied.
Q: What is a “Puro”?
A: A puro is a cigar that was made entirely from the tobaccos of one county. An example of the most well known puros are Cuban cigars. In Cuba, the filler, binder, and wrapper is all grown in Cuba. Cigar manufacturers who make puros consider it a great honor to be able to achieve a such a level of sufficiency, as it gives them more control over the consistency and quality of the finished product. The difficulty in acquiring the necessary native ingredients in producing a puro make them very rare indeed. Other than Cuban cigars, which are unavailable in the American market, there are only a handful of puros out there. The Breton Corojo Vintage, Corojo2000, and the Opus X are all excellent quality Dominican puros.
Q: What do the two numbers mean when applied to cigar sizes?
A: They are the length and ring gauge (diameter). The length is measured in inches. The ring gauge is measured in units of 1/64th’s of an inch. For example, a cigar that is called 8″ x 48″ is 8 inches long and 48/64ths of an inch in diameter.
Q: Does the cigar’s name indicate its dimension?
A: Quite often they do. There are some basic shapes that fall within certain size parameters. These shapes are given names, so that there is some degree of universality in the industry. These descriptive dimensions are approximate, but here are some guidelines: Short is less than 5.5 inches. Long is greater than 6.5 inches. Thin is less than 42 ring size. Thick is greater than 47 ring.
The group below are the most common shapes.
Robusto: Short and thick
Lonsdale: Thin and long
Corona: Medium length and medium gauge
Churchill: Long and thick
Please note that these are only generic shape names. For example, a Robusto from one brand may have slightly different dimensions than a Robusto from another brand. There are other shapes that fall between and around these basics:
Toro: Somewhere between robusto and churchill.
Pantela: A skinny lonsdale.
Rothchild: Somewhere between a robusto and a corona.
Presidente: Either a little larger or smaller than a churchill
Manufacturers can also add one of these common adjectives to the name. They can help you to envision the size. Gorda, grande, gran, larga, extra, doble, or double always mean they are adding on to the size. Petite, slim, finos, or demi indicate some sort of reduction to the size. For example a “Corona Grande” is a long corona, and would be close to a londsdale. On top of all this we will now add the Figurados. Here are the basic definitions. Note, you will find more disparity here among brands than you can imagine. When you are dealing with parejos, you can be positive that robustos from different brands will always resemble each other to some degree. However, with figurados, almost anything goes. One company’s torpedo will be another’s piramide or perfecto. These are the most common descriptions for the shape names on today’s market. Remember, all dimensions described are approximations.
Torpedo: The cap is a sharp point, the foot is open. The shape does not begin to taper until the last 2 inches near the cap. The foot will measure between 46 to 54 in ring size. The length can range from 5 to 7 inches.
Piramide: The cap is round, the foot is open. The cigar will immediately taper from the foot right down to the cap. For this reason, many piramides will be described with two ring sizes. For example, 7 x 36-50. This means that it is a seven inch cigar, and the tuck is 50 ring, and it drops down to 36 by the time it reaches the cap.
Triangulo: Similar to a piramide, but the cap is pointed.
Belicoso: Similar to a torpedo, but usually a little shorter. Also, the taper will occur even more quickly than the torpedo, typically occurring within the last 3/4″ near the cap.
Perfecto: The perfecto will have both ends closed. The cap can be round or pointed. The tuck is typically tapered to the width of a cigarette. On some brands, you light the foot as is, and with others, if it is more than 3/8″, you clip off a bit to expose the filler. The sides can be straight, or there can be a bulge in the first half of the cigar near the foot. The length of a perfecto can vary from 4-8″
Diadema: Traditionally, this is a giant perfecto, measuring at least 8″ long. However, it is can be used to name any huge scale version of the figurados described above.
Culebra: Three panetelas twisted around each other and held together with either ribbon or a large cigar band. The segments of a traditional culebra will be composed of all ligero filler, not mild seco and volado fillers of a regular panetela. You must separate them before smoking. Do not attempt to straighten out the wavy shape. Smoke them in the curved way that they have been cured.
Q: How do you know where the cigar is from, if it is made from tobaccos of different countries?
A: A cigar’s country of origin is classified by where it was rolled, regardless of where the wrapper, binder, or filler is from. Typically, the filler tobacco is usually grown in the same country as where the cigar is made. This is not an absolute rule, as cigars rolled in the US, (typically, Miami or Tampa regions) must import all of their filler. Another exception is Honduran and Nicaraguan cigars, as their native grown fillers are often too harsh to be used exclusively, and are typically blended with Dominican filler in order to produce an acceptable smoke.
Q: What are the basic shapes of premium cigars?
A: There are two shapes of cigars, Parejos and Figurados. A parejo is a straight sided cigar. A figurado is an exotic, irregular shape.
Q: How do I know what size is right for me?
A: You should pick a cigar for the amount of time you have available to smoke. If you are at a sporting event or on a golf course, choose a large cigar that will last for a long time. If you are in a cigar friendly restaurant and you want to have a nice after dinner smoke, (but don’t want to stay there all night) choose one that will last about 30-40 minutes. These are just some examples. As you experiment with different sizes you will find one that you are most comfortable with.
Q: Is there a correct way to light a cigar?
A: Absolutely. Your goal is light the end as evenly as possible. When lighting the cigar, it is best when you apply as little of the flame to the end of the cigar as possible. This will prevent the tobacco from getting charred, or carbonized, and imparting an unpleasant taste unto it. To do this, hold the flame about 2 inches away from the cigar, and slowly draw long puffs of air through the cigar. The flame should jump up to the cigar. With each new puff, rotate the cigar about a quarter of a turn. Continue this for 4-5 puffs and then inspect your work. If there is a tiny unlit spot, you can blow on it to accelerate the glowing coal to drift over to it. Then, take one or two steady puffs and then leave the cigar alone for at least 2 minutes, as the first 1/8th to 3/16th of ash builds. You have laid the foundation of a cigar that will burn perfectly.
Q: How do I open the end cap?
A: The most common way is with a cigar cutter. This means you will clip the rounded end cap off. Other methods are discussed and illustrated in the “accessories” section.
Q: How come my cigar does not always burn evenly?
A: Most uneven burns are a result of poor lighting technique. Therefore, patience should be applied during the lighting to ensure that the cigar burns properly, and does not “tunnel” or “canoe”. Your cigar is tunnelling when the inner filler is burning down, and the outer layers, including the wrapper and binder, are still unlit. This will taste unpleasant, as you are not smoking the balanced blend. It will ultimately go out, as the inner core suffocates from lack of air. If your cigar tunnels you can try to fix it by using your cutter and clipping down the unburned exterior and then try to relight the cigar. A problem that is more common than tunnelling is canoeing. This is when your cigar is imitating a canoe, by one half burning slower than the other. It can be caused by improperly lighting the cigar, or by smoking too quickly, puffing away like mad. The best way to fix this is to leave the cigar alone and let the slow side catch up as soon as you notice it is happening. The sooner you “back off”, the sooner the cigar will even up. If you ignore it, it will get more and more pronounced. I do not recommend “flash burning” the slow half, as it will usually leave a burning taste on the rest of the cigar as you smoke it. Both of these syndromes can be prevented by correctly lighting the cigar. Very windy conditions can also make the cigar canoe to tunnel. Unfortunately, this is out of your control and is no mark against your ignition techniques.
Q: What are characteristics of a good humidor?
A: There are several key points that all good humidors share. It is important that you chose the right one in order to protect your precious and delicate cigars. First, is the interior lining. It should be made Spanish cedar. A very small percentage of humidors on the market use a mahogany interior as an acceptable alternative. The next important feature to look for is the seal between the lid and the rim of the box. It should be a tight seal, but it can not be purely airtight. Lids that are very heavy, relative to the rest of the box, help to promote a sufficient seal. Another critical element to look at is the hinges on the lid. They must be heavy duty, and be secured with good anchoring. Often, as described earlier, the lids can be very heavy, and the hinging must be sturdy enough to support the stress that a heavy lid will put on them. Often, people will say that the most critical part of a humidor is the humidification element. However, I disagree. It is actually the only component than can actually be replaced; therefore, it is more important to have good seals and hinges, for without them, even the best humidification element will not keep the cigars in peak condition. These key features are what make a humidor.
Q: What are the do’s and don’t when holding or feeling a cigar?
A: Premium cigars are delicate and require care when handling. They can be damaged by squeezing, pinching, or dropping them. The two ends are the most susceptible to damage. The rounded, or closed end (nearest to the cigar band), is called a cap. The cap can be split if it is squeezed too tightly. The best place to hold a cigar is anywhere in its middle section, at least 1 inch away from the ends.
Q: Must I use distilled water in my humidification element?
A: Yes. Tap water and bottled spring water contain minerals that will collect and slowly “cake-up” on both the device and the interior of the humidor. These minerals turn into a whitish/tan crust, and eventually, will clog the pores of the humidification device and destroy the effectiveness of the humidor. Additionally, some tap waters often have a slight odour that will taint the aroma of the cigars when compounded over months or years.
Q: Why do premium cigars need to be kept in a humidor?
A: A premium cigar, by definition, is handmade and in most cases, constructed with long-filler tobacco. It is 100% pure tobacco leaves throughout its construction. Unlike cigarettes or machine made cigars, they have no chemicals that are added that will keep them from drying out. Therefore, they must be stored at the correct humidity level to preserve its moisture content, or they will dry out and crumble.
Q: What are some other features that a humidor can have?
A: There are several “options” that your humidor can have. For example, some have locks, which would prevent people in your office or home from snatching your stash without your permission. Other humidors have handles. These not only look elegant, but will aid you when you are moving the humidor from your beach house back to your winter home. Other important options that a humidor can have are shelves and dividers. These help you organise your cigars and keep different brands separated.
Q: How should premium cigars be stored?
A: The cigars must be kept at 70-72% humidity level to prevent them from drying out. This is best achieved by keeping them in a humidor. The humidor should have a Spanish cedar lining, to enhance the aroma and promote the aging of the cigar. If you are on a budget, there are cigar jars, made of glass that will do an adequate job. If you are really in a pinch you can use Tupperware, or a similar style food storage container. All of these storage devices must have a humidification element that releases moisture into the storage chamber.
Q: Why is there a high demand for Cuban Cigars?
A: Cravings for Cuban cigars are primarily related to wanting what we cannot have. However, the smoker on a quest for Cuban cigars should be wary, for Cuba produces as many mediocre cigars as any other country. In addition, the proliferation of counterfeit Cuban cigars, and the risk of a United States customs department fine, make the quest less than desirable. Many smokers find that the genuine Cuban stogies are too strong. The growers in the Dominican Republic, specifically the Breton and Fuente families, have made great strides in the last few years to create Cuban seed wrapper, such as from the Corojo plant, that was previously been available only in Cuba. Cigars with these wrappers equal the best of what Cuba offers, and can be seen on Corojo2000, the Breton Corojo Vintage, and the Fuente Opus X.
Q: Why are Cuban cigars so distinguished?
A: As a rule, Cuban cigars have been the benchmark of the cigar industry for many years because Cuba is where the cigar business started over 150 years ago. The tobacco for almost all worldwide consumption of cigars was grown and processed in Cuba. There is a lot of heritage and tradition there, and it took many years for other countries to achieve the knowledge and techniques necessary to produce good cigars. The United States embargo against Castro forced the creation of an industry in the rest of the Caribbean. Many farmers, rollers, and factory owners fled to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica and Florida. Over the years, some of the exiles in these countries developed raw materials and product that rivalled Cuban goods. Cigar Aficionado, most prominent cigar rating publication, has given excellent ratings to Dominican cigars that often exceed the ratings for Cuban cigars.
Q: How many different types of tobacco are there?
A: There are literally hundreds of strains of tobacco plants. They are grown on almost every continent, although only a handful are suitable for premium cigar production. Most of these are Cuban seed varieties that have been cultivated in other countries. The leaves from most Cuban seed varieties often reach 14-18 inches in length.
Q: What does Ligero, Seco, and Volado mean?
A: These are the classifications of leaf types that a single plant, regardless of its variety, will yield. Every tobacco plant for cigar applications has these three leaf types. Each is from a different part of the plant. Every cigar should have some combination of these leaves to burn correctly. The “ligero” leaves (pronounced lee-hair-oh) are taken from the top third of the plant. These offer the strength to the cigar’s flavour. The leaves from the middle third of the plant are called “seco” (pronounced say-ko). These have a mild flavour, and contribute to overall aroma. Finally, at the bottom third of the plant, are the “volado” leaves. These have little flavour, but are a necessary part of the blend due to their excellent burning characteristics. Ligero and seco leaves do not burn very well and need the help of the volado leaf to keep the cigar lit and burning smoothly. When a manufacturer is creating a blend, they will take some combination of these classifications, from various strains of plants, to produce the flavour they prefer.
Q: What is Colorado?
A: Colorado is a colour of wrapper that is in the medium brown colour spectrum. The most common variation is “Colorado Maduro”, which is typically grown in Indonesia, and is sometimes termed “Sumatra”. Another area that grows this shade of wrapper is Cameroon.
Q: What does “shade grown” or “sungrown” mean?
A: These are terms applied to the growing style of wrapper leaves. Shade grown means that tapadas, which are large white fabric sheets, similar to cheesecloth, are suspended 6-10 feet above the entire crop to shield the leaves from direct exposure to sunlight. The opposite of this is to allow the leaves to grow without any protection, directly in the sunlight. The implementation of either procedure will yield completely different wrappers, as the exposure to the sun will affect the amount of sugars and oils the plant produces, the thickness of the veins in the leaf, and ultimately, its colour. A common shade grown wrapper colour is of a “Claro” colour. This has a pale “coffee with cream” colour. Many companies will often alternatively refer to this shade as “natural”. A common sun grown wrapper colour is “Maduro”, which has a hue of dark or black coffee.
Q: Why are wrapper leaves so special?
A: The wrapper is a very delicate leaf, and is only one layer thick around the cigar. It contributes a large percentage to the overall flavour of the cigar. Wrapper leaves can be grown in many places on the globe, and each variety contributes its own characteristics towards the cigar’s flavour. A wrapper leaf is evaluated on the thinness of its veins, its oily sheen, its even colouring, and most importantly, its unblemished appearance. In order to achieve and maintain these desired characteristics, the leaves are often carefully and skilfully handled several hundred times from picking, curing, stripping, aging, and rolling. Binder leaves are often wrapper leaves that have been rejected due to some sort of cosmetic imperfection.
Q: How is tobacco cured?
A:Curing tobacco is a sensitive process that depends on techniques and traditions that are hundreds of years old. Following the harvest, tobacco is removed from the fields and placed in large bulk piles within a curing shed. This shed will have several barn doors in the front and rear, and many doorways running along the sides. There are also vents on the upper portions of the structure. The purpose of all these openings is to control the interior temperature and humidity. By opening or closing the apertures, workers are able to counterbalance the effect of wind and sun exposure on the structure. Each bulk is about the size of a Volkswagon Beetle. Inside these piles, heat is created as a by-product of the chemical reactions taking place. The core temperature is monitored daily and the piles are rotated inside out frequently to prevent the raw tobacco from cooking. This part of the fermentation is referred to as “sweating”. These bulks may be turned many times during the following months until this stage is complete. It is during this sweating process that the tobacco releases ammonia and other undesirable elements. The tobacco is then put into rectangular bails, each about 150 pounds, and stored for a minimum of one year. Many producers will store it for much longer periods of 3-5 years. After this curing and ageing period, the tobacco is judged suitable and shipped to the fabrica for rolling.
Q: What does Corojo mean?
A: Corojo (pronounced: kawr-oh-ho) is the name given to a specific variety of tobacco plant that was originally developed in the Vuelta Abajo Valley in Cuba. It is named after the plantation that first grew it, called El Corojo Vega. The leaf’s thin, oily texture, along with its small thin veins, make it the pinnacle for a wrapper leaf on the highest rated of the Cuban brands. This farm had a unique combination of mineral content in the soil, irrigation, drainage, and exposure that allowed the plant to thrive. The plant is very temperamental and delicate, and only survived when planted in the valley of its origin. Most attempts to relocate the seeds to other tobacco growing regions in both Cuba and other Caribbean nations are met with crop failure. Within the last 5 or 6 years, there have been only two growers, both in a valley in Bonao, Dominican Republic, who have been able to harvest successful crops of the Corojo variety. The characteristics of this valley duplicate those of the original Cuban plantation. The wrappers cultivated from this plant are often designated as “rosado” shade, which is a very rare, reddish tint.
Q: What is Maduro?
A:Maduro, directly translated from Spanish, means “mature” or “ripe”. On a cigar, it applies to the wrapper leaf that is medium or dark brown. The two most common styles of maduro are Colorado (medium brown), and Oscuro (dark brown, almost black). There are several methods used to achieve these shades, depending on the hybrid of plant. Some are fermented for longer periods of time, while others are merely left on the plant unpicked until the very end of the plant’s annual growing cycle. Most maduro shaded wrappers are grown in Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Cameroon.
Q: How many wrapper colours are there?
A: There are about a dozen or so, all variations of these basic ones, listed from lightest to darkest: Candela (which is still green), Double Claro, Claro, Colorado, Colorado Maduro, Colorado Rosado, Maduro, and Oscuro.