Cigars 101: Wrappers

There’s more to a wrapper than meets the eye. The first things we notice about a premium handmade cigar are its band and its wrapper. The way a cigar looks entices us- cigar-makers fixate on a cigar’s color and texture when they create a blend. The wrapper is the most expensive part of a cigar because it must look perfect, but beyond that it can represent sixty to eighty percent of the flavor. Because of this cigar-makers are especially picky when choosing the wrapper for a blend. Here’s an overview of cigar wrappers and how they are classified.

What Makes a Great Wrapper Leaf?

An ideal wrapper leaf is visually pristine- while coarser tobaccos are well-suited to deliver flavor and body, the thick, visible veins they display make these leaves less desirable as wrappers. Additionally, a patient and proper fermentation of the tobacco ensures the wrapper exhibits a consistent color. Wrapper leaves are often harvested from the Seco, the middle section of a tobacco plant. 

A number of terms are used to define the most common types of cigar wrappers used today. Some of these terms pertain to color, country of origin, and seed varietal, while other terms represent a blend of these elements. Becoming familiar with the types of wrappers today’s cigar-makers grow can be essential to understanding why you prefer certain cigars over others. Below there is a detailed Wrapper Glossary that identifies a number of terms that characterize today’s cigar wrappers.

Before we jump in,let’s define two of the broadest categories for classifying wrappers: Natural and Maduro. In a general sense, Natural and Maduro are akin to light and dark. While both Natural and Maduro encompass a number of more specific wrapper types, they identify a basic, easy-to-see classification that can be applied to a wide variety of cigars. When a cigar blend is offered in both a Natural and a Maduro wrapper, the Natural is typically milder and nuttier, while by contrast the Maduro delivers a sweeter, earthier taste.

Natural Wrappers

The most common types of Natural wrappers are Connecticut Shade and Ecuador Connecticut. Tasting notes of almonds, cashews, cedar, and buttered toast with mild to moderate spices are common in many popular Natural cigars, especially those rolled with an authentic Connecticut wrapper.

A number of brands, retailers, and consumers use Natural as a blanket term to describe a host of wrapper types – essentially, any wrapper that is not a Maduro. Therefore, you may encounter Natural as a broader definition for other wrappers outlined below (i.e. Ecuador Habano, Nicaraguan, Corojo, and more).

Maduro Wrappers

Maduro technically refers to a fermentation process (how the wrapper leaf is aged). Maduro wrappers undergo an intense natural fermentation to achieve varying degrees of the lustrous, dark brown color and rich, often sweet, flavor for which they’re known.

Maduro is a wrapper type not specific to any one country, region, strength level, or flavor profile. Although numerous Maduros are available today, roughly 40 years ago Maduro cigars did not exist. Maduro wrappers emerged as consumer tastes evolved with preferences for added complexity, flavor and richness. Cigar-makers embraced creative methods for processing and fermenting tobacco to satisfy the growing sophistication of consumer tastes.

Maduro wrappers originate from a number of seed varietals and can be grown in many countries and key tobacco-growing regions around the world. Maduro wrappers can be further classified by their color. A Colorado Maduro wrapper exhibits a dark brown that falls on a lighter spectrum. Oscuro wrappers, sometimes called Double Maduro, are nearly black in color and refer to the darkest, most lustrous leaves. A combination of crucial factors impact the resulting color, flavor, and strength of a wrapper, including the amount of sunlight a plant receives, the area of the plant from where the leaf is selected, and the duration and temperature of the fermentation process.

Wrapper Glossary


Brazilian wrappers typically exhibit a dark, almost jet-black shade that looks a touch dry, at first. Astringent coffee bean and black pepper notes with a bit of sweetness are common. Popular blends handmade with a Brazilian wrapper leaf include CAO Brazilia and La Flor Dominicana La Nox. Brazilian cigars are less common than other wrapper varietals, but they occupy an important niche.


Cameroon wrappers are prized for lush, approachable flavors that offer a wonderful balance of natural sweetness and spice. Arturo Fuente Hemingway and Arturo Fuente Don Carlos are two of the best-known and top-selling cigars handmade with authentic Cameroon wrappers. These leaves are distinct for their delicate, somewhat dry textures and a light to medium-brown appearance. Growing tobacco in Cameroon has long accompanied challenging circumstances due to the region’s decades of political unrest. However, the area’s rich soils yield unparalleled, unique flavors both new and seasoned cigar lovers appreciate.


Cigars rolled with a Candela wrapper are easy to distinguish due to the unmistakable green color of this leaf. Before the tobacco plant has fully matured, the leaves are harvested and dried quickly to lock in the plant’s natural chlorophyll content. Although less common than other wrappers, Candela cigars offer complex, grassy flavors of green tea and cedar with a hint of pepper and a lush aroma that is often mild and approachable.


“Connecticut” refers to the Connecticut River Valley rather than the state. It runs north from Hartford, Connecticut, through the middle of Massachusetts and up through the shared border of Vermont and New Hampshire.

A number of the world’s bestselling, most iconic cigars are rolled with a Connecticut wrapper leaf, including numerous selections from Ashton, Arturo Fuente, Montecristo, and Macanudo. The fertile soils of the Connecticut River Valley produce exceptional tobacco crops unlike any other region. Connecticut wrappers are most closely associated with a light, golden-brown color, however, the term “Connecticut” encompasses a handful of very distinct wrapper varietals grown in the region, most notably: Shade and Broadleaf. Although the valley’s climate is limited to a shorter growing season, its tobacco crops are prized for their naturally sweet and creamy flavors. Because the sunlight is less intense in the Connecticut River Valley than in many tobacco-growing regions along the equator, the resulting crops deliver approachable, elegant, and rich tobaccos.

Connecticut Broadleaf

Connecticut Broadleaf is perhaps the best-known Maduro wrapper. It is a medium to dark-brown espresso color that can verge into black. It’s grown under direct sunlight, often oily and sweet. Once considered a rough-and-tumble alternative to its more elegant cousin, Connecticut Shade, Broadleaf is a labor-intensive plant that dresses a number of celebrated smokes with tantalizing flavor and aroma, including Ashton Aged Maduro, Arturo Fuente Hemingway Maduro, and Rocky Patel Vintage 1990.

Tobaccos from a number of growing regions can be fermented into glistening Maduro wrappers, however, it’s impossible to duplicate the authentic sweetness of a true Connecticut Broadleaf. Notes of cedar, raisins, dark chocolate, black currant, licorice, chestnuts, and spices are hallmarks of the best Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers.

Connecticut Shade

Connecticut Shade is among the most prized wrapper varietals grown today. Connecticut Shade wrappers adorn a number of acclaimed cigars like Ashton Classic, Ashton Cabinet, Macanudo Cafe, and Montecristo. These wrapper leaves are grown in the Connecticut River Valley, and, as their name implies, the plants are sheltered from direct sunlight by acres of nylon mesh netting erected over the crops. The effect simulates natural cloud cover by “shading” the plants from direct exposure to sunlight.

Connecticut Shade wrappers are golden-blond to honey in color with a light, silky texture. The result of the labor-intensive harvest ensures every leaf exhibits a distinct delicacy, never too dark or thick, with a balanced nicotine density. Creamy tasting notes of almonds, cashews, and coffee with cream characterize many Connecticut Shade cigars.


Corojo is a tobacco varietal that originated in Cuba and was chiefly produced as a wrapper leaf. Although pure Corojo tobacco is no longer grown in Cuba, Corojo wrappers are actively harvested in the Jamastran region of Honduras, while additional Corojo varietals are produced from hybrid seeds in other Central American nations such as Nicaragua.

Corojo cigars are noted for an oily, reddish-brown hue and a robust flavor profile with forward spices and a zesty aroma.


Criollo translates to “native seed” and is a historic Cuban tobacco. It can be traced back to the era when Columbus discovered the New World. Today, Criollo is grown in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Honduras.

Criollo wrappers are a reddish, earthy brown color and harbor notes of molasses, cedar, and coffee beans with ample spices.


Tobaccos grown in the Dominican Republic have been used in premium cigars for generations, but only in the past 25 years has the country become known for producing wrappers. For years, veteran cigar-makers said quality wrapper leaves could never be grown in the Dominican Republic, though Carlito Fuente proved them wrong with a line of his Arturo Fuente Cigars. 


Ecuador has been a predominant region for wrapper leaf production over the past thirty years, thanks in large part to the Oliva family, owners of the Oliva Tobacco Company. The family operates several farms in Ecuador that grow wrappers for a number of today’s most prominent brands.

The LFD Andalusian Bull is handmade with smooth and gleaming Ecuador wrapper leaves. The leathery brown wrapper shows a toothy shade of dark cocoa. Bold, savory notes of fresh ground coffee and hickory result from the region’s precious soil and natural, cloud-filtered sunlight.

Ecuador Connecticut

Thanks to the popularity of Connecticut Shade wrappers, Connecticut seeds have been planted and grown in Ecuador for several years. They reveal a similar color to traditional Connecticut Shade wrappers with a golden, light-brown or tan hue. However, Ecuador Connecticut leaves are typically a touch paler and dryer. The taste of an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper is also distinct with notes of whiter pepper, leather, nuts, and a bit more spice.

Ecuador Habano

There has been a meteoric rise of Ecuador Habano wrappers in the past decade. These wrappers have eclipsed a number of other popular varietals in recent years, in large part due to the increasing number of cigar-makers who rely on the leaf. In addition, shifts in consumer preferences for spicier, more full-bodied cigars have been readily satisfied by the meaty flavors Cuban-seed wrappers promote.

Ecuador Habano wrappers can range in color from medium to dark brown with some exhibiting a reddish tint, while others show an oily milk-chocolate hue. Complex, luxurious spices accompany tasting notes that range from figs, dried fruit, leather, and molasses to creamier floral flavors.

Ecuador Sumatra

Ecuador Sumatra wrappers are grown from Sumatra-seed crops planted in Ecuador. This dark and seductive cover leaf is unmistakable. Its lustrous, luxurious appearance is a deep and oily dark-brown, espresso bean hue. Stunning flavors of cedar, raisins, black pepper, and leather accompany a creamy and resonant room note.


Habano wrappers originate from Cuban-seed tobacco that receives a traditional, Cuban-style fermentation. In some instances, Habano is simply a broader definition for Cuban-seed wrappers grown in other regions, most notably Ecuador and Nicaragua. Habano cigars are often characterized by a more intense emphasis on flavor and aroma. Rich profiles of earth, coffee beans, wood, leather and spices are common in many cigars made with a Cuban-seed wrapper.

As the trend for complex, full-flavored blends flourishes, Habano cigars continue to enjoy more popularity than ever before.


Honduras gets a little less attention as a key tobacco-producing region than the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua. But, it wasn’t long ago that Honduras enjoyed status as premier producer of premium tobaccos. A civil war and an extended period of political unrest had forced a number of cigar-makers from Nicaragua beginning in the late 1970s. Many made the transition to Honduras. Although tensions had receded in Nicaragua by the early 1990s and the nation has since become a vibrant region for tobacco growers and cigar-makers, Honduras continues to produce a number of important brands.

Because Honduran tobaccos exhibit a thicker, more rugged texture with tougher veins, they are more commonly utilized for binder and filler components. However, a handful of brands have excelled with Honduran wrappers thanks to proper fermentation and patient blending.

Earthy notes of cocoa, minerals, wood, and cayenne pepper are common in Honduran tobaccos. Some Honduran wrappers reveal a deep-brown mahogany color while others show a chalkier brown shade.


Indonesian tobaccos have traditionally been used in machine-made cigars over premium handmades. However, Indonesia enjoys an extensive history dating back to the 1700s as a key producer of quality tobaccos.

Although Indonesian tobaccos are more common as binder and filler tobaccos, Cuban-legacy classic Romeo y Julieta 1875 boasts a rich and flavorful Indonesian wrapper leaf. Toasty notes of nuts, coffee beans, and peppers emerge from this caramel-hued wrapper. Indonesian wrappers are also used in a number of inexpensive bundle brands.


In the past two decades, Nicaragua has come to rival the Dominican Republic in terms of premium cigar exports. Many prominent growers and makers of handmade cigars have built extensive operations in Nicaragua. Nicaraguan wrappers embrace a number of prominent blends today.

Nicaragua’s rich volcanic soils yield a tremendous span of crops. Nicaraguan wrappers present tasting notes of cinnamon, cayenne, cedar, cocoa, black pepper, toasted nuts, and more.

San Andrés

The San Andrés valley in the state of Veracruz in Mexico is home to fertile volcanic soils amply suited to grow exceptional tobaccos. The humid climate and prevailing winds from the Gulf of Mexico influence the resulting crops marvelously. San Andrés tobaccos easily make the best Mexican wrappers, and they’re known for providing big, decadent flavor profiles. The leaves are resilient and can handle an extensive fermentation.

Many San Andrés wrappers are very dark brown to nearly black in color. They can be oily and lustrous or show a slightly drier complexion. Notes of almonds, cracked black pepper, fresh brewed coffee, dark chocolate, and peppery spices are common in these robust, complex wrapper leaves.

San Andrés Oscuro

Oscuro is Spanish for “dark.” Oscuro-grade wrappers are achieved through a shorter fermentation period at a lower temperature than typical Maduro wrappers receive. Oscuro wrappers are especially dark as they are harvested during the first priming from the upper sections of the tobacco plant which receive an abundance of sunlight. Because these leaves spend roughly 50% more time on the plant, they are thicker and darker in color. The process results in a sweeter, richer taste. San Andrés Oscuro wrappers, in particular, deliver a heartier result best enjoyed after a meal. Peppery notes of caramel, espresso, and sweetened hickory characterize each of these dense, full-bodied gems.

Sun Grown

Sun Grown refers to a growing process rather than a specific region or seed varietal. Sun Grown wrappers are simply grown under direct sunlight, without the aid of mesh or nylon cloth to restrict the light that reaches the plant, as is done with Shade Grown.

Wrapper leaves exposed to direct sunlight generate oil as a form of natural protection and therefore are heartier, thicker, more lustrous, and stronger in body. While Sun Grown wrappers aren’t necessarily as dark as Oscuros, they’re often an oily chestnut or a dark coffee bean brown. Toasty notes of nutmeg, baking spices, cedar, and sweetened coffee characterize many Sun Grown cigars.

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