They come in all textures, all colors and give consumers a wide variety of flavors. Dependent on how, where and under which conditions they are grown, wrappers account for the majority of what we taste when we enjoy cigars and all of what we see. Buying decisions often come down to the country of origin of said wrapper, not the whole of what’s included in the blend. Because of this and a few other factors, the wrapper is the most important component (and most expensive) of the premium cigar.
How Wrappers are Grown
Wrappers are grown in two different manners: sun grown and shade grown. These different methods directly determine the texture and appearance of the wrapper and the taste. A part of the science of growing premium tobacco is determining what seeds grow best under which conditions.
When tobacco is sun grown, the leafs are directly exposed to sunlight, allowing for thicker, oilier and oftentimes more potent wrappers. Characteristics of sun grown wrappers are:
- Thicker leafs
- Larger veins
- Coarser leafs
- Tooth, or small bumps/pockets of oil
Shade grown means that the tobacco is grown under thin cloth or in cloudy regions where there isn’t much sun. These areas are typically mountainous with fertile valleys that are ripe for farming. The lack of direct sunlight is impactful both chemically and physically. Characteristics of shade grown wrappers are:
- Thinner leafs
- Larger leafs
- Smaller or less visible veins
- Lighter in color, reddish
How Wrappers Taste
On top of making sure the cigar looks good, the wrapper’s importance increases as it’s the key element to taste. The percentages and opinions vary regarding how much the wrapper leaf is responsible for it, but “most of it” is a pretty accurate number. Some of the factors that contribute to the different “flavors” we get from wrappers are seed varietal, location in which the seed is grown, crops that are grown nearby or between tobacco-growing season (coffee, fruit, etc.), fermentation (manufacturer’s “recipe” of heat, water and length of time processing tobacco), and aging.
Strength does not come from what’s on the outside, as that’s all about the filler. This is why cigar strength shouldn’t be judged by the lightness or darkness of its outer leaf; as darker cigars can be mild while light cigars can pack a punch! If one were to either remove the wrapper from the cigar or smoke the components without the outer covering, the cigar taste would be totally different and more than likely unpleasant. When blending however; this must be done to see how the different filler tobaccos work together and whether or not the wrapper taste will complement the filling.
Because we are naturally drawn to beautiful, tasty things and because they bring all of the characteristics together in harmony, it’s critical for growers and manufacturers to invest more in and be especially mindful of the wrapper. They catch our eye or push us away. They bring us back to a brand or cause us to keep browsing. They are delicate yet strong, pristine yet resilient. And while cigars are different things to different people and our preferences are all over the board, one thing we can agree on is that premium cigar wrappers are a delight and critical to our experience.
|Popular Sun Grown Wrappers||Popular Shade Grown Wrappers|
|Ashton VSG||Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Champagne|
|Rocky Patel Sun Grown||Undercrown Shade|
|Liga Privada T52||Macanudo Café|