Cigar FundamentalsThe Cigar Tobacco Growing Regions & Types
Tobacco is just a plant like any other. You could grow it everywhere, even in a pot at your home. But when it comes to producing a large amount, we are talking about outdoor growing, which would minimise the potential growing regions due to climate requirements. Nine primary growing regions manufacture cigar tobacco: Central Africa/Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua/Honduras, and the United States.
Dominican Republic: full-flavour like the Cuban but a bit milder. Due to the fact most of the seeds grown in DR come from Cuba, both taste pretty much the same. DR has emerged as one of the best choices for quality tobacco in the last few decades.
Cuba: strong, full-flavoured, spicy and aromatic tobacco. Historically regarded as among the world's finest, which explains why it has a strong presence in almost any premium cigar brand.
The Brazilian region offers darker colour tobacco, which has a sweet taste.
Mexican tobacco is used primarily for filler.
Ecuadorian region is famous with quality fillers and wrappers that taste smooth.
Honduras & Nicaragua can offer high-quality tobacco from a Cuban or American seed with full-bodied, strong, and spicy flavour.
The United States is, surprisingly for many people, growing its tobacco too. The Connecticut River Valley, just north of Hartford, is the home of the world’s finest wrappers. In terms of flavours, they could vary from mild to medium.
Indonesia can offer dark brown coloured tobacco with neutral flavours.
Central Africa is a region that is also famous for its neutral flavours. In addition, they produce high-quality wrappers too. The colour can vary from green to very dark brown.
Another interesting topic to cover is the actual plant. It is not as simple as growing tobacco and then rolling a cigar from every leaf. To make a good cigar, you need to carefully select the plant, chose the leaves you want to use and wait for the right time before you roll them. All of those choices are equally important as they would impact the taste of a cigar. There are no strict rules for blending tobacco, and that is why there are limitless variations for cigar smokers to enjoy.
There are two main types of tobacco: Criollo and Corojo. The Criollo means someone from Latin America from Spanish, and not surprisingly, originates from Cuba around the time of Columbus. The Criollo was developed for binders and filers, while the Corojo was for producing wrappers. During the last century, it was discovered that if grown under the shade, as opposed to the traditional way in the sun, the Criollo could become suitable for wrappers too.
The Corojo means "Cuban or from Cuba", which is where it came from, but due to the embargo in the 1960s, it is now grown in Honduras and Western Kentucky. Because of its unique and spicy flavour, it was primarily used as a wrapper for any Cuban cigar between the 1930s and the 1990s.
Ligero is the name of the leaves found at the top of the tobacco plant. They required the longest time to mature from the other leaves. Their main feature is that they burn slowly, which is the reason why they are rolled in the centre of heavy, full-bodied cigars.
Seco are the thinnest leaves, and they are located in the middle of the plant. They are predominantly selected for filers due to their mild flavour and aromatic nature.
Volado is a type of leaf that is between the Seco and Ligero in terms of strength, flavour and aroma. They are also used for fillers.