Maduro Wrappers: Are Darker Cigars Stronger?
The Maduro wrapper or the 'Capa Negra' in Spanish, has earned a reputation among cigar aficionados, and since its conception, has become a widely popular choice. Maduro means “ripe” in Spanish, which perfectly describes the lengthy process that the tobacco leaves go through to achieve a dark chocolate colour. Almost every Cuban Cigar brand has their own version of ‘Maduro’ cigars, such as Cohiba, Partagas and Romeo Y Julieta, demonstrating its popularity among aficionados. Known to any cigar enthusiast – there are various factors that contribute to the overall experience and taste of a cigar. One of which includes its wrapper. The wrapper is the outer layer of the stick, encasing the binder and filler. It comes in a wide range of colours such as the Claro, the Connecticut and Maduro. In this article, we will discuss the difference between these dark variants and what makes them special.
“THE DARKER THE WRAPPER, THE STRONGER THE CIGAR?”
There is a common misconception by unseasoned cigar aficionados that: the darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar - causing them to stray away from darker wrappers. Though there are Maduro cigars that are explosively strong in flavour, it should not be a generalisation for every Maduro cigar. In actual fact, Maduro wrappers are considered to be more mellow than their counterparts. Thanks to its extensive cooking, fermentation and ageing process, it brings out a certain sweetness to its flavour. Cigar aficionados report the wrapper creating dark chocolate, coffee-like and spicier notes, producing a fullness and richness to its taste – influencing the overall experience of smoking a cigar. However, there is a question of whether the wrapper or the filling has a greater influence on the overall taste. The answer can be varied, Zino Davidoff in his book on Havana cigars claim that it is 40%. Whereas Ernesto Prez-Carillo, the master cigar maker, claims it to be up to 70%. But no matter what, the wrapper will significantly influence the flavour of the cigar, along with the curated fillings of the roll – creating its own unique taste.
Above: A box of Cohiba Maduro 5 Magicos
“THE LEAF DARKENS, THICKENS AND PRODUCES OIL”
The process of darkening the tobacco leaves is comprehensive – it isn’t the same as typical Claro or Colorado wrappers. When cultivating tobacco plants for Maduro wrappers, the selection of a leaf strain is extremely important. Some certain strains are not thick or resistant enough to withstand the intense heat and fermentation process that a Maduro wrapper endures. Common leaves used for these dark wrappers are Connecticut Broadleaves, Mexican Sumatra and the San Andres Negro – all these strains are sturdy and thick enough to resist the intensity of the darkening process. The leaves used for Maduro wrappers are only harvested from the top leaves of the tobacco plant, also known as the 'Ligero'. Due to constant sun exposure, the leaf darkens, thickens and produces oil to protect itself from the heat of the sun, while also mellowing the flavours down. Whereas, the leaves cultivated in the shade, tend to have thinner and silkier textures which may not withstand the additional fermentation process.
After gathering the leaves, it will then get prepped for the curing and fermentation process for even further darkening of the leaf. The leaves are placed in bulks during this procedure – the weight, the moisture and the heat will make the tobacco leaves ‘sweat’, drawing out the oils, turning starches into sugars and darkening the colour. With regular cigar wrappers, they use 20-30 degrees Celsius to ferment the cigars, but with Maduro, thanks to its thick leaves, can go for over 40 degrees Celsius. The tobacco leaves are aged for a minimum of 1 year – for instance, the Cohiba Maduro 5 Magicos are aged for 5 years.
Above: Cigarmaker from Cuba spreading a tobacco leaf
“A LENGTHY PROCESS CREATES A LENGTHY BURN”
Due to all the stages that a Maduro wrapper goes through, it directly affects the experience of smoking the cigar. The thickness and oiliness of the wrapper creates a slower burn, allowing the smoker to relax and savour the flavour. As Davidoff quotes “A cigar is savoured; you are immersed in it”, and Maduro cigars are the perfect cigars that embody this quote. However, due to the thickness of the wrapper, the burn line could become wavy and create an unusual edge – therefore, try to toast the cigar first, then light. Maduro cigars are great for special occasions, as they typically offer complex, sweet, flavourful smokes. Due to the added sweetness of the wrapper, they could make a great addition to desserts.
The Maduro wrapper demonstrates the artisanal value that Cuban Cigars withhold as every piece that the cigars are constructed with, greatly influences the smoking experience of the individual. Some great Maduro cigars you should try are the Partagas Maduro No. 1 Cigar and the Cohiba Maduro 5 Genios Cigar. For more inside knowledge about all things cigars, read our Cuban Cigar Blog:
- The Six Parts of a Cuban Cigar
- The Blessed Tobacco Land of Cuba
- Ligero, Seco, Volado: The Three Types of Tobacco Leaves