Usually, when you look to buy a cigar, the country of origin for each section of the cigar – filler, binder and wrapper – are all proudly displayed, and are often considered to be a good indicator of what to expect from your stogie. While it is certainly not the case that you can determine exactly what taste a particular tobacco will have solely on the country it is grown in, the tobacco plants grown in a particular region often share similarities. Here is a broad guide to the different tobacco growing countries and the flavours they produce.
The relationship between cigars and Cuba is deep and long-running. Every cigar fan will have tried a Cuban at some point in their life, or, at least have one or two on their smoking bucket list. The leaves from tobacco plants grown in Cuba are full-bodied and strong, leading to many complex flavours, including spicy and aromatic. Big names such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta Cigars are made using Cuban tobacco.
Many plants growing in the Dominican Republic actually derive from Cuban varieties. Most are on the milder side of the scale, but the tobacco is full of flavour and tends to be used in complex blends. Some of the biggest names in the cigar industry come from the Dominican Republic, such as Davidoff and Arturo Fuente.
The leaves on Nicaraguan tobacco plants tend to be robust and spicy, so they often present complex notes. Padron cigars come from Nicaragua.
Peruvian tobacco tends to be rather rich and complex, with a lot of body, and so is typically not used to make a whole cigar. Instead, it is used in small amounts to make up the perfect blend. Unlike many heavier leafed plants, there is not a lot of harshness in the Peruvian cigar leaves, rather a pleasant smooth spiced note.
Brazilian tobacco is ever growing in popularity, with the leaves giving rich, spicy and toasted notes.
While Mexican tobacco is perhaps not as popular as it once was, it is still used to create some great component parts, such as the San Andres Maduro wrappers. The fall in Mexican tobacco being used is primarily down to the fact that the cheaper tobacco tends to feature a slightly unpleasant harshness.
The most popular leaf originating from Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Maron, which has notes of toasted nuts.
The main products for cigars that come out of the US are the Connecticut broadleaf, which is dark, heavy and veined, and the Connecticut shade, which is a yellowish leaf that produces a mild-medium body smoke.
The West African country is renowned for its top quality wrapper leaves. Typically, the leaves grown here have neutral characteristics, with no overwhelming tastes. This makes it the perfect choice wrapper for cigars with a fuller-flavoured filler.
What makes the cigars taste different?
The primary factor in taste differences between countries is the soil conditions it is grown in. Each country has a diverse ground type composed of a variety of chemicals, moisture levels and pH levels that each play a part in the tastes developed in the tobacco plants. The level of acid or alkaline in soil is particularly important, as this will dictate whether the smoke will be smooth or harsh.
The other thing that plays a part in the taste of cigars is the curing process. The way in which the leaves are cured varies between both countries and manufacturers. But, as many leaves are air dried, the climate of each country certainly has an impact on the outcome.
Where does your favourite cigar come from? Let us know in the comments below!