Maduro ‘The Ripe Leaf’
Translating to “mature” or “ripe” in Spanish and ranging from dark brown to pitch black in color, maduro wrappers have a great appeal and can be found in just about every aficionado’s rotation. Despite their popularity, the methods by which they are made are still a mystery to many and misconceptions concerning their strength remain. Since the overall strength of a blend is largely dependent upon the makeup of the filler tobaccos, maduro wrappers can often have a mellowing effect to a blend and add sweetness to the cigar. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the creation process of this wrapper to understand why it possesses such unique qualities and flavor.
A product of tobacco expertise and many years of patience, the painstaking creation process of maduro wrappers is here to stay due to its popularity within the industry. Rich in flavor yet possessing a very smooth texture and natural sweetness, maduro wrappers can often be misleading based on appearance alone. The tobacco gets darker but also breaks down during the extensive fermentation process required, so it’s important to note that wrapper color alone will not always reveal the body and strength of a cigar.
The best maduros are grown in the United States, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Brazil as a result of the regions climate and access to direct sunlight. In order for tobacco to naturally ripen into a true maduro, the tobaccos must undergo an extended fermentation period in large “pilones,” or piles, for up to three to five years. During this process, the components of the leaf are broken down and a sugar byproduct is extracted from the leaf resulting in a sweeter wrapper. The exact length of the fermentation time will depend largely on the seed type, growing region, and priming on the plant. Thinner varieties such as Cameroon, Sumatra, and Connecticut Shade tobacco seed would begin to fall apart during this more intense fermentation process before becoming dark enough.
The following different seed and tobacco varieties are the most popular choices for the creation of a maduro wrapper:
Grown in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, this rough and often crude looking tobacco creates a full-flavored maduro with a very distinctive taste. Formerly used as binder or filler, the soil in Lancaster County is very rich in nitrogen, potassium and calcium, making the tobacco very thick and tough yet still combustible. A unique spicy and leathery core adds a kick to this wrapper that is not seen in Broadleaf grown in Connecticut.
Not to be confused with Connecticut Shade Grown, Connecticut Broadleaf is a larger, thicker, and much more rugged looking leaf that is grown in the Connecticut Valley. It’s tough enough to endure the prolonged fermentation process of intense heat, moisture, and pressure. Connecticut Broadleaf maduros possess an oily and veiny texture.
(Examples: AVO Maduro, Macanudo Maduro)
Referred to as Criollo or at times Corojo, this Cuban-seed wrapper is most often grown throughout Nicaraguan and Honduras and yields a rich, earthy, and semi-sweet wrapper.
Harvested in Mexico’s San Andres Region from Cuban-seed tobacco, this wrapper is noted for its smooth and toasty qualities and sweetness. San Andres wrappers pair well with many filler tobaccos, making it a popular choice among cigar blenders.
Grown in Brazil and often referred to as a Brazilian maduro, this seed sprouts a very strong, thick plant. The wrapper is exceptionally dark and fuller in body with sweet and leathery undertones. It is known for its great burning properties and white ash.
Grown in Brazil’s Bahia region and historically used as binder instead of wrapper due to its rough appearance, Mata Fina makes up for its subpar appearance with a unique spicy and earthy aroma along with a natural sweetness.
(Examples: CAO Brazilia)