A Guide To Cigar Wrappers – Types, Colors, And Other Facts

Jeff Miller
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What exactly is a cigar wrapper?

In a cigar, the wrapper is that part which is visible on the outside. The reason they are called the wrapper is that they wrap around the entire cigar. In most cases, they are made from tobacco leaves that surround the filler and binder. A typical cigar has 1-2 leaves used on the outside.

The wrapper is the second most expensive part of cigar, after the tobacco binder. In most cases, the wrapper tobacco is from the top of the plant. This is because it gets more sunlight and becomes more flavorful as well as brown naturally.

Almost all cigar wraps are grown in four countries: Cuba, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic. Each one has a unique history and flavor to offer.

All about wrapper types & colors

If you are an avid cigar enthusiast then there are some properties of cigar wrappers you need to know.

The first is that every wrapper will have an effect on the flavor and character of your cigar. Secondly, the wrapper has to be grown in a certain location to be able to create the flavor that you are looking for. The third thing is that wrapper color is not an indicator of the cigar quality.

Here is a brief rundown of cigar wrapper types and colors and how you can use basic knowledge to enjoy cigars even more.

Broadleaf

This leaf is typically grown in the Connecticut River Valley. The natural leaf variations give it an uneven appearance. Broadleaf used to be the wrapper of choice for cigars but the popularity has declined.

You are not going to find harsh flavours with these wrappers, but you will get a lot of earthiness through the smoke.

Connecticut

Although Connecticut is synonymous with shade-grown wrapper, you can also find broadleaf Connecticut leaf.

The leaves have a wrapper appearance that is high quality, but there will be a few stray veins here and there. The flavor will be smooth with a bit of woody taste to it.

Ecuadorian Connecticut

This is considered the newest wrapper in the cigar industry. It has a uniform appearance and the taste is reminiscent of a Cuban with a very mild character to it.

Natural Wrappers

Natural-wrapped cigars have a leaf wrapper produced from raw tobacco leaves. That leaf is carefully selected and rolled onto the cigar to give you an attractive, high-quality wrapper that is virtually free of veins, which means you can smoke it for dozens of rounds without worrying about the wrapper coming off. This is also the type of wrapper most suitable for beginners.

Habano: Habano tobacco-wrapped cigars tend to be among the more popular selections in the market. They possess an even spiciness that makes them more suitable for everyday consumption than the stronger Maduro variety.

Maduro: Maduro is a type of tobacco used in cigar wrappers. It is known for its oilier leaves, which make it have a dark and slightly oily colour. Compared to Habano tobacco, Maduro tobacco is known for its stronger flavours and aromas.

Natural vs. Maduro: Natural versus Maduro is a topic of great debate in the cigar enthusiast community. Naturally, cigars wrapped with Maduro tobacco are stronger and more pungent-smelling than cigars wrapped from Natural tobacco. That said, many cigar enthusiasts prefer Maduro because of its fuller flavours and creamier notes, while other prefer Natural tobacco because of the subtle spiciness and sweetness it creates.

Maduro Wrappers

Maduro wrappers get their dark color from being smoked more than other cigar leafs which have a lighter hue. Maduro wrappers are dark and oily. They can be roasted or exposed to sea water, then soaked in rum. Their leaf may be fermented. Maduro wrappers can be virtually of any color including reddish brown, bronze, or even beige; a true maduro will always be dark, not light. Maduro wrapper leaves are known for their rich, smooths taste and aroma.

For an example of the taste of a Maduro wrapper, try the Davidoff Grand Cru No 2. The burn is even and lasts a long time. The smoke is very smooth and has a myriad of tastes.

Factors that play a role in the wrapper properties

The basic part of the cigar is the filler and it is rolled inside of a wrapper of different kinds. As different kinds of leaves are used to make the fillers, different colors are used to make the wrappers. There are certain kinds of leaves that are used to make the wrappers that are strong, and are resistant to the natural elements. As the fillers are rolled inside of these wrappers, the “wrapper” also plays an important role in the appearance of the cigar.

“The wrapper” of the cigar also plays an important role in sealing the whole of the cigar in an air tight manner. The best cigar wrappers are plugged at the end as well as at the sides and hence a strong bond is created between each of the leaves in the cigar. The wrappers that are selected for making the cigars that are rolled outside are very light. This is because they are expected to be exposed to a lot of heat and so they are not supposed to be thick.

Wrappers From A to Z

Cigar wrappers are the sheaths that wrap around binder and filler leaves. These are the leaves that are most often seen once the cigar is lit and ready for smoking. Depending on the cigar, a wrapper may play a critical part in the aging process and may even be tightly grown around the filler in some cigars.

The wrapper often determines what your cigar will taste like, and whether you will enjoy it or not. It’s important to know the types of wrappers, so that you have a better idea of what to expect from a new smoke.

Wrapper Appearance

A wrapper’s appearance is often a guide to what it will taste like. Take for example, the Connecticut shade-grown wrapper: it will generally have a light brown hue with a bluish cast. The Pennsylvania broadleaf will have a variegated leaf with combustion lines, and often a grayish hue. An Ecuadorian Connecticut will generally be a deep espresso color, with dark veining. The Dominican corojo is a habano type of cigar, and as such will generally have a light brown and reddish hue, with a silky wrapper. Rarely, will you ever see a cigar wrapper that’s 100% one color. There are generally always some patches, or veins, that make the wrapper look like it has been through a whirlpool.

Brazilian

The most common color for the Brazilian Maduro wrapper is brown because of its age – due to the fact that Brazilian wrapper is the oldest wrapper used in cigar-making. Brazilian Maduro gives cigars their trademark sweet taste and rich aroma. The texture of Brazilian Maduro is also finer than many other wrappers and has an obvious shine to it. Because of the unique aroma this wrapper gives cigars, most cigarmakers are very careful when blending with this wrapper. Some of the most popular cigars with this wrapper include Ashton, Padron, and Arturo Fuente.

Cameroon

While this isn’t one of the most well-known cigar wrapper, it’s one of the most widely used ones. Production in the DR Congo has been increasing dramatically, and the country is quickly becoming a leading producer of Cameroon tobacco. This wrapper is characterized by its dark, chocolate brown color and its inherent sweetness. It is a thick wrapper that can contribute a lot to the body of the cigar.

A strong Cameroon wrapper is most commonly found on an Indonesian-made cigar. The main reason why Cameroon wrapper leaf has become so popular in Indonesia is because it’s a bold wrapper with a naturally high oil content. Because of these traits, the cigar wrapper leaf tends to burn slowly and thoroughly, meaning that it has a good shelf life and doesn’t need to be aged.

One of the drawbacks of using Cameroon wrapper is that it has a tendency to crack. This can make rolling difficult and can be an aesthetic problem for some manufacturers.

Candela

The candela wrapper is named after the Cuban cigar factory Companía Candela, where it is used. These wrappers are brownish-yellow in color and they are typically found in Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and Davidoff brands.

Candela wrappers are grown at the San Juan y Martinez and San Luis tobacco plantations of the Cuba Company, also known as Cuba Export. It’s grown near Cienfuegos, the capital city of the Cienfuegos Province in Cuba. Candelas are typically mild in taste and aroma. They’re characterized by their bright color.

Connecticut

Wrappers that are grown in Connecticut range from light brown to very dark brown in color. It’s a thin, high quality wrapper that is sometimes used for premium cigars. Connecticut leaves are often used in making premium brands of cigar.

Connecticut shade is a term that’s a bit of a misnomer. It’s grown under shade, which it’s true. But it’s not shade like you might think. Basically, Connecticut shade is grown under huge tents that are similar to the way tobacco is grown in the tropics. Shade is important because it provides vital nutrients to the soil, helps balance the PH balance, and slows growth. By combining shade over the tobacco, it allows the tobacco leaves to grow more slowly. This extra time makes the leaves more supple, flavorful, and visually appealing.

The Connecticut shade is often harvested in late summer or early fall. This allows the tobacco to cure and age. The darker Connecticut shade wrapper has a mellow, chocolatey flavor, with hints of nuttiness and pepper.

Connecticut Broadleaf

The wrapper of the cigar is one of the first things you notice when you open your cigar box. In fact, it’s probably the main reason you purchase the cigar in the first place.

Connecticut leaf is the broadest used wrapper for cigars and was the first type grown commercially in the early 19th century. The tobacco used in these wrappers is grown in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Central America and is found in cigars of all price ranges.

Connecticut wrappers come in a variety of shades, with shades ranging from light brown to dark brown. The wrapper is well-known for its oily, chocolate like taste, with a slight sweetness and notes of cocoa, earthiness, and a touch of caramel.

Alright,.

Connecticut Habano

Connecticut wrapper, also known as “American Shade”, is grown mostly in Ecuador, but small amounts are grown in the San Andres Valley of Mexico. The binder is grown in Honduras and the filler used is also a mix of Honduran and Ecuadorian tobacco. The Connecticut Shade is a much lighter cigar wrapper than the traditional Maduro and is used for milder, more mellow cigars, which makes them good for beginners. In some cases, if a Connecticut Shade cigar is being aged for a long time, it can develop a lighter Maduro color, which will make it smoother than it once was.

Connecticut Shade

Connecticut Shade was introduced in 1896 by James Brown in the town of the same name. It’s the most prevalent type of wrapper used in cigars today. The Connecticut River Valley has been the epicenter of American tobacco culture, so it’s no wonder it’s the number one choice for wrapper.

Although a majority of cigars are wrapped in Connecticut Shade, there are other varieties that are commonly found. Depending on the quality of the leaf, shade can be almost a white as rice paper. If the shade is too light, some manufacturers will blend in a darker leaf to give a reddish hue. This is how you may find shades that aren’t white but that are closer to light tan.

To give the wrapper a really dark hue, it’s often combined with Maduro tobacco in the binder, which makes the wrapper look almost black. The leaf is often referred to as Cameroon.

Corojo

The Corojo wrapper is a very thin type of leaf that provides very little protection from the elements. As a result, it’s grown in regions known for their hot and humid weather. While Corojos are usually used for filler leaves, they are occasionally used as a wrapper. When used, the Corojo wrapper provides a high level of resistance to mold, mildew, and other natural elements. Pay close attention to the wrapper … the Corojo wrapper has a subtle sweet flavor and a pleasant aroma.

Criollo

Criollo wrappers are considered one of the most desirable types of wrapper, but they are actually difficult to grow and very few cigar manufacturers can actually utilize this type of leaf. Some of the more well-known cigars that feature a Criollo wrapper are the Cuesta Rey®, the Romeo y Julieta®, and the Quai d’Orsay®.

These wrappers are very delicate and must be used while they are still very fresh. As a result, most cigar manufacturers use Criollo leaves sparingly in their blends.

Criollo leaves are harvested from a very special type of leaf called placenta, which is a very useful part of the tobacco plant for the plant’s survival. The plant needs a large supply of nutrients in order to grow and continue to produce leaves and seed pods. If the plant doesn’t have a large amount of nutrients, then it’s likely to die off because it’s no longer able to continue yielding leaves and produce enough seeds.

Placenta protects the seed pod from the sun, which lets the plant’s leaves grow as big as possible. Since placenta is the nutrient depository for the plant, it gives the tobacco its distinctive flavor and it also has other benefits such as giving the leaves a velvet-like texture.

Dominican

Dominican Republic tobacco is grown in rich volcanic soil that makes it perfect for growing high-quality tobacco leaves. The soil contains all the nutrients needed for high-quality tobacco growth, namely: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and manganese. These nutrients are essential for the quality of the tobacco leaves in tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic.

It’s worth mentioning that the Dominican Republic is one of the biggest exporters of cigar tobacco in the world. This shows the world how high-quality and good their leaves are.

Ecuador

Ecuadorian wrapper is harsh and rather light in color, ranging from light sand gold to a pale tan. In some cases, you may find this wrapper to have a slight greenish hue as well, depending on the specific tobacco plant. When you smoke a cigar with an Ecuadorian wrapper and find yourself struggling to pick up strong flavors, that’s because this leaf is generally quite neutral.

It produces what most cigar connoisseurs would call a straightforward smoke. While it may not have the highest level of complexity out there, it tends to rank as a good all-around cigar wrapper … a good option for those who are relatively new to cigar smoking.

Interestingly, the country of Ecuador has been cultivating tobacco for over 300 years. They have always had a variety of tobacco plant with their tobacco plant manufacturing Mojarra or American tobacco.

Since the cigar boom of the 80’s, Ecuadorian cigar wrapper has become almost synonymous with cheap cigars. However, while the tobacco is often used as the wrapper on much cheaper cigars, it has a fine pedigree and its use on a cigar in no way implies a cheap cigar.

Ecuador Connecticut

Ecuador Connecticut Shade wrapper leaves are used to create a mild, creamy, and yet well-balanced cigar. It’s a beautiful leaf and is grown under perfect conditions in the Dominican Republic and the Connecticut River Valley.

Photo courtesy of Heaven Gifts Ltd.

The Ecuadorian Connecticut is among the most popular varieties of wrapper around the world. And with good reason – the Ecuadorian Connecticut is well-balanced, smooth, creamy, and yet still carries a bit of fire and spice to it. This wrapper leaf offers a very pleasing aroma, and is known for it’s subtle sweetness that’s neither too strong nor too light.

A Bit About The Ecuador Connecticut:

Much like the Cuban Habano wrapper leaf, the Ecuadorian Connecticut comes from the Connecticut River Valley. It is just as mild and delicate as the Cuban wrapper leaf, and is most often used to wrap cigars that are mild and aromatic.

An Ecuador Connecticut wrapper can be recognized by its lighter color and a cross-hatched pattern that is great at hiding small veins. It’s a beautiful leaf and is grown under perfect conditions in the Dominican Republic and the Connecticut River Valley.

Ecuador Habano

Ecuadorian Habano, grown in Ecuador, is a darker wrapper, sometimes with a purplish hue. It is often used in classic premium cigars like Macanudo and Ashton. Ecuadoran Habano wrappers are also found in many delicious, full-bodied maduro cigars such as Padron, Perdomo and Oliva.

Ecuador Sumatra

Ecuador Sumatra cigars are full bodied, dark with a light brown to gray color that becomes darker towards the foot. These are the shortest and spikiest of all the cigar wrappers.

This cigar can be well over 6 inches long, but the most common sizes are 5.x’6.5”x54. Due to the nature of its short, spiky leaf the Sumatra wrap tends to unravel easily and is difficult to work with when it comes to making handmade cigars.

Habano

The Habano wrapper is the name of the leaf that lines and covers a cigar’s core. It is the darkest leaf on the cigar and usually contains the most oils. This leaf has a strong, classic string-bean shape. The dark leaves are often used as cover leaves for the lighter-colored, sweeter leaves.

Habano wrappers have a leathery texture, a surprising amount of taste, and a strong aroma with hints of spiciness. Habanos vary in color from almost black to reddish-brown, sometimes a reddish-brown, sometimes the wrapper is plain but the cigar’s filler leaves are fermented to caramelize, while other times the leaves are painted with a sugar glaze.

Due to the fact that the Habano wrapper has the highest percentage of oils, it has the most flavor, and a wide range of tastes. It’s also the most expensive.

Honduran

Honduran cigars tend to be on the milder side. Their wrappers are often a smooth, light brown color.

Connecticut: Also mild, Connecticut cigars are often lighter in color. A popular cigar wrapper, Connecticut shade is typically used for mild, aromatic cigars.

Ecuador: These cigars are often dark brown or even black in color. They are often very flavorful and aromatic, with a slight sweetness to them.

Nicaraguan: A cigar with a Nicaraguan wrapper tends to be on the stronger side. Nicaraguan tobacco originates in the volcanic regions of Honduras.

Spanish: Spanish cigars generally have a rich, earthy flavor. They are often light brown in color.

Cameroon: This cigar comes from West Africa and has a very light color. It has a smooth taste and is quite mild.

Indonesian

Indonesian is the wrapper most people are familiar with. It’s typically brown and has a very smooth texture. The Indonesian wrapper can have many contours and seems to be very popular among cigar smokers today.

As we’ve already mentioned, the Indonesian wrapper generally has a darker color. Although Indonesian cigars are made using both natural and maduro wrappers, the color difference is very pronounced.

Because the material used to create Indonesian cigars is grown on the island of Java, this type of wrapper is sometimes referred to as “Java.”

As with other types of wrappers, Indonesian’s are grown in three different sizes:

  • Flat
  • Semi-Firm

Nicaraguan

While there are many different types of cigar tobacco leaves that are produced in Nicaragua, the two major types are Criollo 98 and Corojo 99. Criollo 98 is the most common, and it is the traditional Broadleaf in the country.

Criollo is particularly rich in flavor, but due to its extreme thinness, it burns quickly. The higher the Criollo percentage, the spicier it is. The Criollo 98 varietal has a natural color that ranges from a light yellow to a dark reddish-brown.

Corojo 99 is an aged, less intense version of the Criollo. It offers a smoother, heavier clove taste. Corojo 99 is a seed wrapper that has a natural dark brown color.

Because it is deadly quiet, this cigar wrapper may be appealing to the cigar smoker who would like a more subtle smoke. Rich, dense flavors surround the mouth, leaving hints of spices that spread through the mouth.

Pennsylvania Broadleaf

Preferred shapes: The rounder, the better

Lighting: Easy

Draw: Very easy

Smoking Time: Short

Burn: Even

Notes: Cigars under this category have a great tasteful smoke, much like a country ham. You'll notice a bit of a spicy flavor that lingers when smoking. This cigar wrapper is considered to be the most oily compared to others. It’s a very thick, rich, and flavorful cigar.

San Andres

San Andres is famed for being used in a number of other types of tobacco products, such as Rocky Patel’s Shark. It’s a hearty leaf with a heavy, prominent earth and wood aroma. It is dark in color, although not very resistant to sunlight. It is also chock full of aromas in its own right, including earth, wood, manure, spice, and pepper.

What’s interesting is that San Andres can be grown in a number of different latitudes, which translates into a pretty wide range of flavor variation.

The San Andres wrapper can be grown in the United States, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

San Andres Oscuro

San Andres Oscuro is a wrapper that is a deep, dark, and rich shade of brown. It has a rich, spicy flavor to it that is the result of the beans being grown in small, closed-in farms, without the benefit of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The farmers who grow this organic tobacco usually use traditional farming practices, raising expensive fertilizers and pesticides from plants that will remain after harvest. When it’s time for harvest, they cut the leaves by hand to preserve as much flavor as possible. The cigar’s full body and taste is the result of the San Andres Oscuro wrapper.

Old Mother Hubbard

Also known as “Maduro,” Old Mother Hubbard is a dark, oily wrapper that is the most common type to be used in cigars. The farms where it is grown cultivate it in traditional fashion, using fertilizers, herbicide, and pesticides in the hopes of creating the most desired product. Because of this, the wrapper has a mild, somewhat bitter taste lacking in the more healthful qualities of San Andres Oscuro.

Sumatra

Cigar wrappers are, of course, the primary portions of cigars that deliver the essential flavor of the tobacco. Wrappers can be either Connecticut, Cameroon, or Maduro that have been fermented for three to six months.

This process also affects the characteristics of the tobacco. Maduro tobacco is rare and is mostly grown in Nicaragua and Honduras. Maduro wrappers are dark and oily and age well. They’re best suited for cigars that will be rested for at least a year.

Other Wrapper Types

Although the most common wrapper is Mexican, there are other types of wrapper leaves. African Cameroon (similar to Cameroon Sulawesi), Ecuadorian Connecticut, Mexican San Andreas (green), and American Connecticut are common alternatives. Consequently, these alternatives differ in both price and strength.

Sun Grown

Vs. Shade Grown

A sun grown cigar is usually a little stronger than a cigar that was grown in the shade. Both types of tobacco will have their own unique flavors, but the sun grown varieties will usually have more of a bolder flavor profile. They’re also a bit more difficult to cultivate than the shade grown tobacco, which is usually considered to be a little more mild and has a tobacco leaf with a slightly reddish tone to it.

USA Connecticut

An interesting thing I've learned about cigar fans is that each of them has their preferred type and kind of wrapper for the cigar they smoke. I was lucky enough to receive a good starter cigar in a sampler pack and also was given a few other cigars as gifts. So it got me started on a road to learning about cigar wrappers. In this first section I am going to discuss cigar wrappers and only the USA Connecticut Shade because that is my favorite!

AmeriCana Connecticut shade is a mild to medium body cigar that is very clean tasting. It is very smooth with a sweet smoke that always seems to have a chocolate hint to it. The taste is always mild to medium, sometimes leaning towards medium on some cigars. These cigars are not like most cigars that carry a rich bold flavor. I am not a fan of the boldness. If I'm smoking a cigar then I want to enjoy the flavor and not get a full body punch in the face!

How to identify a quality wrapper

The wrapper must be well done. There must be a nice, even color with no discoloration. Avoid cigars with wrappers that feel spongy or flaky …like the cigar has holes in the wrapper. To be sure, turn over the cigar and tap it on the table. Any soft spots are a warning that the cigar is not well made or is very old.

{1}. Manufacturers have their own charcoals or blends of tobacco to give their cigars a unique flavor. You can be sure that a good cigar is going to taste noticeably better than a lesser quality one. Its wrapper or the brand name on the label will not necessarily indicate quality, but the tobacco blend used will.
{2}. If you plan on aging your cigars, you'll need to leave the cellophane wrapper on. Don't use any scotch tape on the cellophane wrapper …just in case you change your mind later and need to examine the wrapper. If you store the cellophane wrapper under a lamp or near a window, it will allow enough light through to keep the cigar aging process working.
{3}. Once you have taken the cellophane off the cigar, you can be sure of the quality by checking the wrapper and its taste. If it burns well, has a nice taste, and a smell that is familiar, be sure to save it.

Final Words

Thanks for reading this article. I hope that it has helped you learn about and understand cigar wrapper types and shades. If it was helpful, please share it with your friends. If you have any suggestions, please send me a message. I’ll be more than happy to improve and expand this article to make it more useful to you!

The content of this article is accurate as of the posting date. This post will be updated regularly with new information as it appears. You can find the updated information in the references below.