Being that I work in a brick and mortar, with a rather large humidor, I see people everyday who walk in and say something to the extent of “Wow! I don’t know where to start.” For beginner’s especially a walk-in humidor, while an appealing concept, can be quite intimidating. Which cigar should I pick? What’s the difference between all of them? What if I’m getting someone a gift but I don’t know what they like? It can be over-whelming when you don’t know what you’re looking at. The best way I can think of to give “Newbies” a head start is with a quick break down.
Every cigar has 3 main components: Wrapper(Capa), Binder(Capote), and Filler(Tripa). Each of these play a different role in the cigar. Since the Wrapper contributes an estimated 50% to as much as 85% of the flavor of a cigar, that is what we’ll be focusing on here. If you don’t like the taste of the wrapper, it’s very likely you won’t like the cigar. There are tons of different wrappers so below I’ve condensed them into different groups with GENERALIZED notes about them. Obviously there is a lot more to it and exceptions to this list but the attempt here is to make it easier for those who haven’t developed their palette’s yet.
SHADE – Generally considered the mildest of tobaccos, most commonly from Connecticut or Ecuador.Usually these are very light tan in color, almost like coffee with a lot of cream. These wrappers are usually very creamy and light and an excellent option for those just starting out.
HABANO – Can be from almost any region around the world. Typically sun grown, these tend to be more of a medium to dark brown and have a very “leathery” and “peppery” flavor profile. (These are my personal favorite wrappers.)
MADURO – Darkest of the wrappers. Maduro’s are most commonly from Brazil, Connecticut, or San Andres Mexico. They usually have a very bold sweet and earthy characteristic to them.
CANDELLA – Very young green leaf, sometime referred to as American Market Selection or Double Claro. Very grassy and sometimes sweet.
CAMEROON – Often faked for monetary reasons, genuine Cameroon only comes from one region in Africa. It is usually very toothy and also very fragile. The best way I have found to describe its flavor is like Basil, a sweeter less peppery spice note.
There is a lot more to it then just what is listed above, but I hope this helps beginners in making their choice. I still recommend speaking to your local tobacconist for specific cigars to fit the bill.