One of the most prevalent myths surrounding cigars is the darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar. While you can determine a few things from the color of wrapper tobacco, strength is not one of them. Before we get into debunking this myth though, we have a few things to go over because there is a little more surrounding this myth than just the darkness of wrapper tobacco.
First, it’s important to understand the components of a cigar. A cigar has three parts: filler, binder, and wrapper. Each of these parts effect the way your cigar tastes, the effect it has on your palate, and how strong it is. We will be doing a more in depth post about these parts at a later date, but for now it is important for you to know the three parts of a cigar.
Second, there’s a difference between strength, body, and flavor. Strength is the nicotine content of the cigar, body is the impact a cigar has on your palate, and flavor is the unique notes a cigar has and how prevalent those notes are. Of the three, strength is the only objective one because it is solely based on the nicotine content of the cigar, though different nicotine levels may have different effects on different people. Body is usually used to describe the impact of a cigar on your palate; things like spiciness, the forwardness or subtlety of the notes, and the staying power of the flavor can all fall into the body category. Flavor is exactly that, what you taste and as such, flavor is incredibly subjective.
Third, not all cigars are made the same. In fact, most cigars will change as you smoke them, flavors will develop and fade away and the body will become more or less intense as you smoke through the cigar. There are two main methods of blending to get this effect: one is the traditional Cuban/European way where the cigar’s body and flavor will start off subtle and become more intense as the cigar develops the other is the New W0rld/American way where a cigar will start off intense and mellow out as you smoke through the cigar. There are other, more creative ways to blend cigars but most cigar you smoke will follow one of the two methods mentioned here.
So this brings us to our great myth, that darker cigars are always stronger. The strength spectrum in this myth is that lighter shades or Connecticut wrapped cigars are always mild and the darker you go, the stronger the cigar gets, topping out at Maduro. The problem here is confusing the strength of a cigar with the body and flavor. Cigars with a lighter shade of wrapper tobacco are often dependent on binder and filler tobacco to add body and flavor, this is especially true for cigars with a Connecticut shade-grown wrapper as it is almost a flavor neutral tobacco, so lighter color cigars can end up being stronger than they look, this is especially true of many Connecticut wrapped cigars released over the last 10 or so years. Cigars with a Maduro wrapper, while they make look intimidating, are traditionally medium in strength but have a more intense body and richer flavors than their Connecticut wrapped counterparts but over the years they have been blended to be significantly stronger.
There are two great examples of strength vs. body and flavor in our humidor right now. One example is the new Perdomo Habano. The Perdomo Habano comes in three different wrapper types: Connecticut, Sungrown, and Maduro. The Connecticut and Sungrown are close in strength, despite the Sungrown being significantly darker than the Connecticut while the Maduro is stronger than both. The other example is the difference between the Montecristo White and the Montecristo Classic. The Montecristo White has a lighter wrapper than the Montecristo Classic but is more of a medium strength cigar while the Classic is much milder.
So how can you determine the strength of a cigar? By smoking it. Our expert staff can guide you and give you advice but only you can determine how a cigar will effect you.
Here are some tips for smoking a fuller strength cigar:
- Smoke stronger cigars after a meal or on a full stomach.
- If you find yourself feeling sick from a cigar, have a snack or a sugary drink like a cola or juice.
- Always ask your tobacconist before you try something you think might be too strong for you.