Q & A: Are Darker Cigars Stronger?
8/01/13 | by JF of Pocatello, ID
This is a great question and the answer revolves around one of the biggest myths about cigars. A darker or maduro wrapper does not mean the cigar will be stronger or fuller bodied. Maduro literally means "ripe" in Spanish. A maduro wrapper is not a type of seed or even a specific type of wrapper, but refers to a process by which the tobacco is fermented for a longer period of time at a higher temperature. During this extended process that can be twice or three times longer than the fermentation of most other wrappers, the sugars and oils are drawn out of the leaf. The longer the cigar ferments, the darker the wrapper becomes.
A properly fermented maduro wrapper will actually be considerably mellow than most natural wrappers depending on the seed type. A good maduro cigar is very flavorful (a quality that is sometimes mistaken for strength or body) and is often sweet on the lips.
The myth that maduro cigars are stronger originated during the cigar boom of the 1990's, when demand for premium cigars outweighed supply by a vast margin. To turn their tobacco into cash as quickly as possible, many tobacco growers and cigar makers artificially colored stronger unfermented natural wrappers in an attempt to make them look like maduros. This practice is rarely seen today, but the myth these wrappers created lives on.
The body or strength of a cigar is most often determined by its filler not its wrapper. The use of tobacco leaves taken from higher plant primings in the filler (especially those referred to as ligero) create a stronger, more full-bodied cigar.