Cultivating a quality collection of cigars doesn’t happen overnight or merely by chance. You need to have an idea of what’s on the market and where products originate. Fortunately, the matters of fact pertaining to the purchase of cigars are not hard to understand. It starts simply with knowing the classifications of leaves according to their persuasions and continues on through several very interesting distinctions. Cigar aficionados have so many unique blends of leaf and growing techniques to choose from. It’s no wonder that smoking stogies, or just keeping them, continues to be a classic hobby across the globe. The purpose of this guide is to offer a concise yet copious explanation of some of the more popular products on the market today. Let’s get started.
What To Look For In A Good Cigar
Certainly, you may have a favorite go-to brand of cigar that’s pleasing to the senses with a certain sense of nostalgia to it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Likewise, you may be the kind of aficionado who can appreciate the abundance of products in today’s international global market. Either way, your satisfaction is only enriched by knowing how to spot a quality smoke.
It all starts with the overall look and feel of the wrapping leaf in question. Generally, the wrapped tobacco of a cigar should have a clean and consistent appearance without looking papery. Also, it ought to have a natural whole-leaf feel yet smooth and free of any bumps or blemishes.
Inconsistencies like obvious veins can be the cause of an uneven burn. Conducting a once-over inspection while choosing a cigar highly improves the chances of enjoying a quality finished product.
The heart of the tobacco plant is known as the Seco.
A Couple Of Introduction Terms
When it comes to the terms used to classify cigars, labels are based on information like nation of origin or the types of seeds used to grow crops. All cigars fall into the categories of Natural or Maduro based on having a light or dark color. A few particular types of leaves can be found in both groups, but most are either one or the other due to the traditions and techniques of the makers. To be perfectly honest, the Natural wrap is the default option regarding cigars. Generally, you have to share expectations of Maduro; like using brown sugar in a recipe.
Maduro is a term used to describe the steps taken to process a wrap leaf; not its qualities or attributes.
Natural wraps have a reputation for possessing a more Oaky flavor while Maduro tastes sweet and richer.
What Makes Maduro A Complement
To really understand and appreciate the term Maduro, you should be aware of what actions and precautions it entails. It’s the way a leaf is aged and fermented that makes it so. The process takes patience and expertise to get the job done right. As a result, the longer the leaf undergoes this treatment the more it takes on a darker tone. Some makers even go so far as to produce a solid black complexion, which often means heavily sweet flavors and aromas. Ashton Aged Maduro is well-known in circles of cigar smokers who enjoy a good Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro.
Delving into the Maduro market reveals a few interesting matters of fact on this style of leaf. First off, the term means mature, and the process is not exclusive to any particular region or country. It’s a relatively new technique that’s only become noticeably popular in the last half century or so. Although there’s no official evidence to support the claims, some smokers believe Maduro wraps leave a less harsh aroma in the air and on the breath. Of course, there are varying distinctions for the difference in darker shades of color. There are Colorado Murado, Oscuro and Double Murado.
More Than Just Light Or Dark Differences
Now that we’ve covered the blanket terms and what they mean, it’s time to look a little closer at what makes cigars so distinguishing in their own right. This must be done by paying attention to the unique properties of a tobacco leaf without necessarily comparing it to others in the market. This is where the list of names and qualities gets a little long for various reasons. The terminology can be based on a number of factors. Some of these terms are steeped in tradition while others are relatively new. It’s a growing field, no pun intended. Wrap leaves are explained in alphabetical order.
The All-star Roster At A Glance
• Dark in color; a very deep shade of Ebony
• Aromatic hints similar to spiced coffee with a slight sweet flavor
• Used for La Flor Dominicana La Nox and CAO Brazilia
• Colors range from mid to dark brown with a light and dry feeling
• Flavors reveal subtle hints of sweet and spicy pairings
• Look for Arturo Fuente Don Carlos, Hemingway and Arturo Fuente
• Striking green in color
• Subdued aroma with layered flavors of pepper, cedar and tea
• Associated with Rocky Patel Mulligans Fairway Edition, Argyle Candela and Don Lina
• Colors range from a light to golden brown
• Also goes by the name Connecticut River Valley
• Associated with Macanudo, Ashton, Montecristo and Arturo Fuente
• Medium to dark-brown in color or espresso; sometimes black
• Somewhat appetizing flavor and aroma
• Used by Hemingway Maduro, Ashton Aged Maduro, Hemingway Maduro and Arturo Fuente
• Natural light to medium brown in color
• Layered flavors suggest a blend of honey and nuts
• Closely associated with My Father Cigars by Garcia Family
• Colors vary from honey to deep gold
• Flavors dance between nutty and creamy with splashes of coffee in between
• Used in Montecristo, Ashton Classic and Cabinet, and Macanudo
• Colors of reddish-brown hue with an oily texture
• Strong flavor combinations of exotic spices and aroma
• Associated makers include Camacho Corojo, Kristoff Corojo Limitada, and Argyle Dark Corojo
• Golden, reddish or brown in color
• Grown on the esteemed Chateau de la Fuente estates
• Medium to dark brown colors with some reddish tint,
• Flavors range from figs and dried fruit to floral
• A rich and oily darkest brown color
• Impressive flavors with a mix of cedar, raisins, black pepper,
• Closely associated with Carlito Fuente
• Colors can range from deep-brown mahogany to a chalkier brown
• Layered flavors include blends of cocoa, minerals, wood, and cayenne pepper
• Dark brown color with a rough texture and authentic look
• Bold and adventurous in flavor with playful hints of strong spice blends
• Largely used for Rocky Patel The Project and AJ Fernandez Last Call Maduro
San Andrés Oscuro
• Oscuro requires a brief fermentation and lower temperatures
• Flavors strongly resemble coffee with caramel and spice
• Look for Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva or San Cristobal Ovation
• Includes anything grown under direct sunlight,
• Playful yet complex blends of flavors include nutmeg with baking spices or cedar and even sweetened coffee
• Connecticut Broadleaf or Connecticut Shade
• Grown and harvested anywhere in US
• Arturo Fuente Hemingway Maduro (Connecticut Broadleaf)
• Montecristo (Connecticut Shade)
The Meaning Of Coordinating Colors
If cigar makers tried to mass produce wrap leaves in every color given by nature, they’d never keep up a fast enough pace. Also, it’s kind of counterintuitive to place so much focus on the color of something intended to go up in smoke. So in the interest of simplicity and clarity, cigar aficionados use the Colorado Scale as something of a color guide. This scale works, because it lessens the subjectivity of color shades and hues.
The Colorado Scale has 7 different fractions, we’ll call them, in its spectrum. This provides a good point of reference if you happen to have an eye for color. Of these 7 divisions, five different names fill the slots in selected match ups. Two of the of points consist of Maduro and Oscuro. The arrangement actually follows a cool pattern. It goes like this; Candela, Claro, Claro Colorado, Colorado, Colorado Maduro, Maduro, Oscuro.
As a list, it looks like this:
• Claro Colorado
• Colorado Maduro
As a caveat, you can’t always judge the quality of a cigar by its color, and the same advice applies to the growers, makers and sellers as well. Your best chances of divining any tobacco flavor come from asking about the when and where of cultivation. Also, you should feel free to base the color theme of your collection on a customized scale. That’s assuming you haven’t done so already.
The Purpose Of Using The Colorado Scale
When it comes to making use of the Colorado Scale, there’s really no need for more than 7 points of variance. Think colors of the rainbow or light passing through a prism. Seven different colors just works. It’s best to think of this scale as something of a concept map. Be sure to keep an accurate Colorado Scale as a cornerstone to reverse engineer any color-coordinated spinoffs. This kind of organization helps with the aesthetic aspects of building a cigar collection. Keeping a few, or several, distinct color scales handy should help you navigate the massive amount of colors and hues offered by cigar makers.
A Little Bit Of Information You Should Know
The practice of growing and harvesting Connecticut seeds in distant regions and far-away countries happens all the time. Starting crops in staggered plots is an old farmers trick of the trade. They’re a few big differences between a Connecticut Valley plant and its Ecuadorian counterpart. A considerable factor for this difference comes from agricultural practices and environmental conditions. Very fine cloth is thrown over the leaves grown in the US northeastern valley while optimum soil, precipitation, levels of sunlight and seasonal temperatures make for a tender leaf with down played flavors. For some reason, other regions and crop locations just can’t duplicate the results.
Connecticut seeds are planted used for crops internationally in Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
Final Thoughts For Cultivating A Good Cigar Collection
Whether you’re looking to start a collection of stogies or just stick to the script, try mixing it up every now and again. You don’t know what you don’t know, and big businesses do rotate blends for the sake of freshness every once in a while. Investing a reasonable amount of networking effort while making acquisitions may prove profitable in the foreseeable future. Establishing open lines of communication with other active cigar aficionados could extend your global reach substantially.