The majority of today's cigar leaf is grown in the rich, volcanic, soils
in the valleys of some Caribbean countries. The area tobacco is grown in result in a
leaf of distinctive character particular to that area, even leaf grown in different fields
in the same country will vary. Different climatic conditions from one batch to the
next will also cause some variation. It is indeed a task for even the most
experienced master blender to work among all these variables to produce a cigar that is
consistent in flavor and quality.
Most of today's premium cigar leaf is grown in two fertile valleys in the Dominican
Republic, the Real and especially the Cibao river valley near Santiago. Two
major types of filler leaf are grown in these valleys, Olor Dominicano (Dominican seed)
and Piloto Cubano (Cuban seed). Until recent years, only filler and binder leaf were
grown in the Dominican Republic. Arturo Fuente now uses a Dominican wrapper
developed for their "Opus X" series. However, most Dominican cigars have
either an African Cameroon or Connecticut shade grown wrapper.
Honduras is the second largest producer of cigars today. The high-quality
Connecticut-seed Shade grown and Cuban seed varieties grown here are rich, pungent and
full-flavored. Many experts agree that this spicy leaf is closest to Cuban leaf in
terms of strength. Relatively recently, Honduras started using leaf from other
countries in their cigars, allowing more diversity in their blends.
After suffering many set-backs, including outbreaks of blue mold and civil war in the
heart of the tobacco region, the tobacco production here is recovering quickly. The
filler, binder and wrapper leaf grown in the valleys of Jalapa and Esteli near the
Honduran border, is very similar to that produced in Honduras.
The leaf grown in Cuba is strong, full-bodied, rich and spicy in flavor. This
dark brown leaf with bluish-black tinges is renown for it's suppleness and oily
sheen. Cuban cigars are distinctively rich and have a robust, earthy aroma.
There are four growing regions in Cuba. The legendary Vuelta Abajo, of the Pinar del
Rio province in western Cuba, is famous for producing some of the finest cigar leaf the
world has ever known. All three types of cigar leaf are grown here - shade-grown
wrapper, binder and filler. Other areas of production include the Semi Vuelta in the
same region, the Partido region in Havana Province produces only wrapper leaf, there are
two sections of Oriente province in the southeast where mostly filler leaf is grown, and
Santa Clara province in the Remedios region (Vuelta Arriba) produces mostly filler and
some wrapper leaf.
Just in case you didn't know....due to circumstances beyond our control, it is against the
law to sell or purchase Cuban cigars in the U.S. After the embargo was placed, many
Cuban cigar makers fled to Dominican Republic and Honduras, taking with them burlap sacks
filled with Cuban tobacco seed. The remaining Cuban manufacturers could no longer
rely on the American market for their product. Production of tobacco diminished and many
of the fields where tobacco had been grown were converted to sugar and other food
crops. Fertilizers for these crops change the soil chemistry. The tobacco
being grown in those fields now, has changed in character. Over time, the soil in
these fields will be leached of fertilizers and the quality of Cuban tobacco will return
to it's former glory. Eventually, policies will change and the embargo will be
history. The Cuban cigars will then join the plethora of premium cigars that already
exist on the American market.
Not much of the tobacco used for cigars made in Jamaica is actually grown in
Jamaica. What little there is, is similar to Dominican leaf. Jamaica is
well-known for other crops. Jamaican cigars are primarily Dominican tobaccos.
Sumatra-seed, sun-grown tobacco, from the valley of San Andres Tuxtla is neutral in
flavor. For this reason, it is often used as binder and filler by other countries in
their cigars. Mexican cigars are, by law, 100% Mexican tobacco. Leaf grown in
a region near Nayaret is often used for maduro wrappers since they are durable enough to
withstand the cooking and sweating process that is sometimes used to create this type of
There is now an abundance of tobacco being produced in Equador, including premium
quality shade-grown and sun-grown, wrapper and filler leaf. Connecticut Valley and
Sumatra-seed varieties grown here produce a milder, more medium-bodied leaf than other
countries. Ecuadorian wrapper is an extremely supple leaf with a silky texture and
slightly oily look. The color is a little lighter than Cameroon leaf and a bit more
bluish-black in hue.
The leaf grown along the eastern coast in the region of Cruz Des Olmos in the Bahia
Province is a full-bodied and rich, yet quite mild. This tobacco, black
in color after fermentation, adds a spicy note to some blends.
North of Hartford Connecticut lies the Housatonic Valley region. This is where
some of the finest wrapper-leaf available is grown under cheesecloth tents.
"Connecticut Shade" leaf is a very elastic leaf of golden brown color.
This mild to medium-bodied leaf is used in the production of some of today's finest
cigars. "Connecticut Broadleaf" is another variety of tobacco grown
here. It is a richer, full-bodied, near black leaf, and is often used for maduro
Tobacco production in this region of West Africa had been drastically reduced in recent
years due to bad weather and other factors, but it is now rebounding some. The nut
brown wrapper leaf produced here originated from Sumatra seed. It is extremely mild
with a neutral to slightly nutty, spice-like flavor. The mildness of this leaf makes
it an excellent choice for a full-flavored blend. Seeds from this tobacco are now
being grown in other countries.
The leaf grown on the islands of this region, especially Java and Sumatra, is light
brown in color, with a subtle citrus-like, zesty flavor. Most of the wrapper leaf
from this region is being used in the production of small or dry-cured cigars and a few
premium handmade cigars.
The cigars produced here are neutral in flavor and very mild.
Of some significance in the production of cigars are Costa Rica, Panama, Barbados,
Belgium, Germany, Guatemala, Canary Islands, China, Venezuela and Argentina.