The cigar is a natural product often compared to wine because its quality depends on the quality of the tobacco leaves used in its manufacture, just as in wine it depends on the quality of the grapes. Premium cigars are made of three parts: the filler or center of the cigar, the binder, which keeps together the filler, and the wrapper, or outer leaf, which wraps the whole mess into one beautiful work of art. However, none of the leaves in a cigar get as much attention as the wrapper. Wrapper leaves are essential to cigars not only for their aspect but also for their flavor.
To understand why, we must go into how the tobacco leaf comes to life. The minuscule tobacco seeds are planted on level soil and protected from the sun with fabric. After a few weeks, the seedlings are transplanted in the fields and irrigated often. As the plant grows and buds appear, they have to be removed by hand so that the plant develops bigger and better leaves. The plants that are destined to wrapper leaves are protected from the sun under a light, synthetic fiber that serves as a tent over the fields. If not protected from the sun, the leaves would become too oily and thick and less elastic. Sun grown wrapper is grown by some tobacco growers but the leaves are thicker, oilier and with more veins, however the taste is richer and sweeter.
When it is time to harvest, the leaves are taken one by one, by hand, in one movement. The wrapper leaves are placed in packs of five (called Planchas). The harvest is done in 6 steps: first the base leaves are picked (Libra de Pie), then the leaves right above are picked (the Uno y Medio), followed by the center leaves (Centro Ligero), then the Centro Fino, Centro Gordo and finally the top leaves of the plant which is the crown, or Corona. The Libra de Pie is never used for wrapper. Each one of these steps requires about a week. The best leaves generally come from the center of the plant, the ones on the top, too oily to be used for wrapper will be used in the filler. Four months take place between the planting of the seed and the harvest. During these four months, the tobacco plant will have been examined on average 120 times.
The shade grown wrapper leaves will be classified by color: ligero (light), viso (slick), Amarillo (yellow) medio tiempo (average), and quebrado (broken). The sun grown leaves will be classified in volado, seco, ligero and medio tiempo. The ligero leaves have a very powerful aroma, the seco leaves are milder and come from the center of the plant and the volado leaves from the bottom of the plant are used to increase volume in the filler and improve the burn of the cigar. The art of making a cigar consists in blending these qualities in the proportions that will give more or less strength and flavor while ensuring a good burn. The leaves are also classified by size and appearance: the leaves that are damaged will be used for cigarette production or machine-made cigars. One plant can yield about 32 wrapper leaves.
Once the wrapper leaves have been processed and fermented, they make their way into your cigar. The wrapper will give the cigar its general appearance, as it is the only part of the cigar that you see. They are so important that they are processed apart from other types of leaves. Great care is taken to avoid damaging these leaves and to keep them from becoming too oily or veiny. The leaves also need to be elastic to aid the roller in his task. For this reason, the wrapper leaves are usually the most expensive part of the cigar.
This article provided by:
Neptune Cigars Inc
9308 South Dixie Highway
Miami, FL 33156 – USA
Customer Service: 1 – 800 – 655 – 3385
Office: 1 – 305 – 670 – 0633