The Unsung Cigar Hero: the Cameroon Wrapper!

Cameroon wrapper

In a world where aggressive cigar flavors get all the press, it’s easy for mild manners to be overlooked. Perhaps it’s a matter of nice guys finishing last, but more ligero (the strongest tobacco leaves from the top of the plant), doesn’t always mean more flavor. Ultimately, the best cigars are created through careful blending of a variety of primings and tobacco types. Finding that special blend of filler, binder, and wrapper (the three elements of cigar construction), is key to great cigar flavor. Although the “official” opinion of the Cuban cigar industry is that cigar wrappers are mostly decorative, non-Cuban cigar smokers quickly learn that the wrapper adds a ton of flavor to any cigar. And this has never been more evident than with the delicate flavor of the wrapper grown in the obscure African nation of Cameroon.

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Cigar Wrappers F.A.Q.

Cigar Wrappers FAQ

Every week, I get at least one question about cigar wrappers. What's the relationship with the wrapper color and power, is this mold or bloom, where does an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper come from, etc, etc. I figured it could be a good idea to compile a list of frequently asked questions about cigar wrappers and provide short to the point answers within a single article. I decided to start with 7 questions, but your additions are welcome in the comments area below!

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Wrappers A-Z: Candela

Candela Cigar Wrapper

This is one wrapper that is actually in reality both a color and a type of wrapper.

Almost despised now, this wrapper color was the most popular cigar for the better half of the 20th Century. Due to shortages, Candela wrappers have been very rare over the past 9-10 years. Sometimes referred to as AMS, or "American Market Selection," cigars due to their tremendous popularity in the United States from the late 1800s through the mid 20th century, Candela is basically a bright green wrapper color achieved by a process which traps the chlorophyll content of the leaf prior to fermentation.

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Wrappers A-Z: Brazilian

Brazil map

Chances are when you think of Brazil, you think of the Amazon rainforest. The rainforest doesn’t cover the entirety of the huge South American country though, which is almost as large as the US. Agriculture is a major industry in Brazil, and one of Brazil’s most important products is tobacco. Brazil may not get a lot of attention for its cigar wrappers, but it’s been a huge cigar manufacturer for hundreds of years. Jon Huber, ex-marketing director C.A.O. and current owner of Crowned Heads, has been quoted as saying that “Brazil is actually the leading nation in tobacco export in South America. The climate is quality.”

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Wrappers A-Z: Dominican

Dominican Republic map

Cigar wrappers from the Dominican Republic are loved by cigar fans around the world, and cigars from the Dominican Republic are arguably as well known and as popular as cigars from Cuba. The country’s cigar-making history spans back to pre-Columbian times when indigenous tribes like the Taino and Arawak rolled tobacco leaves to smoke, known as “cohiba.” Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the Cuban revolution in the mid 20th century that Dominican cigars became well known; this was the time that many famous and talented cigar manufacturers had to flee Cuba. Those men settled in the Dominican Republic, where they could make use of the country’s fertile topsoil.

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Wrappers A-Z: Corojo

Corojo Wrapper

This is the probably the trendiest wrapper right now. It is of course also one of the wrappers they use in Cuba (Corojo '99 variety).

Original Corojo, in fact, was derived from the Criollo seed by natural selection, and this ancient seed is the genetic base seed for the Corojo ‘99 hybrid. A lot of cigar makers have been trying to emulate the rustic taste of a Cuban cigar for years, and this is the leaf they've been using. Corojo was first grown in the fertile Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba, and was originally developed by Diego Rodriguez. Now it is grown almost entirely in Honduras in the Jamastran Valley, as well as parts of western Kentucky in the U.S. The wrapper has come to be almost synonymous with Cuban cigars, however, being as it was used in almost all Cuban cigars from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Cigar enthusiasts will want to note that today the original Corojo seed is no longer used at all; instead, a genetically developed hybrid seed is used which is resistant to the diseases which wiped out so many of the original Corojo crops. The very last harvest of original Corojo wrapper leaves took place in 1996-1997. Here's a nice article on the Corojo wrapper.

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Wrappers A-Z: Mata Fina

Brazil flag

The Mata Fina wrapper, named after where it is grown, is a reference to one of the four major growing zones in Brazil. Mata Fina is the region most prized for its wrapper leaf. It is almost always sun-grown. The Mata Fina wrapper, in general, has a unique earthy aroma and natural sweetness, different from the typical Maduro flavor profile, which makes sense as this is not actually from the Broadleaf variety (it's from the Bahia).

Historically this was used as a binder instead of a wrapper. This wrapper used to be rare on premium hand-made cigars, as they are generally pretty rough looking, but is gaining popularity in recent years. Here's a nice article on Mata Fina and Brazilian tobacco which focuses on the creation of the popular Dona Flor Mata Fina cigar. This cigar may look rough around the edges, but it’s one of the few Brazilian puros on the market, and it’s been making waves for that reason. While Brazil has always been a major player in the industry, for some reason the country never gets the same amount of attention as Cuba and some other producers. Cigars like this one are paving the way for Brazil to make a comeback in the cigar world.

Examples

 

Wrappers A-Z: El Corojo

Cuba Map

Prior to the Corojo '98 or '99 varietals, this was the plant used for wrappers in Cuba. Historically, all premium Habanos (Cuban cigars) made for export are produced with wrapper leaf called El Corojo. It is a special strain of tobacco developed in the 1920s and '30s (or 40's depending on which article you read) at the famous estate of El Corojo in Cuba's premier growing region, the Vuelta Abajo.

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