What is a Connecticut Cigar Wrapper?

July 28, 2023

Connecticut cigar wrappers are an integral part of the cigar world. They are sourced from the Connecticut River Valley region — a fertile area renowned for its ideal tobacco-growing conditions. The region is a core part of America’s tobacco-growing industry, with the warm days and cool nights yielding the two major types of Connecticut tobacco — Broadleaf and Connecticut Shade.

Even though these two variations grow just yards apart throughout the Connecticut River Valley, they couldn’t be more different in feel, flavor, or taste. There is also a minor type of Connecticut tobacco known as Havana, which had its heyday in the early 19th century.

However, we are going to wrap our heads around the two main kinds of Connecticut tobacco that have provided the cigar industry with two of its tastiest ingredients for over 200 years.

What is shade-grown tobacco?

Connecticut Shade wrappers are easily recognized through their lighter shade, often golden brown. They are grown close together under shade. The process uses a cheesecloth or nylon netting to help protect the leaves from the sun’s rays and damaging winds. This produces a thin, supple leaf that is silky smooth with very thin veins.

The shade-growing method proved lucrative for tobacco farmers in Connecticut who needed to catch up with the growing competition and high-quality of Florida-grown Sumatran tobacco. At the time (around 1900), this tobacco was better than the Connecticut Broadleaf. To protect their livelihood, farmers in the Connecticut River Valley began planting Sumatran tobacco seeds.

Unfortunately, their initial attempts to grow the plant failed, as the sun burned the leaves. To combat this issue, the farmers constructed tents made from cheesecloth over the growing tobacco to prevent direct sunlight from damaging it. This proved highly successful, with many other tobacco seed varietals grown in Connecticut adopting the under-shade approach.

Major tobacco cultivation areas in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua now produce some of their tobacco under shade. Still, to be classed as ‘Connecticut Shade,’ it must be planted and grown in the Connecticut River Valley.

What is Broadleaf tobacco?

Broadleaf tobacco is grown directly exposed to the sun to engineer heavy, flavorful leaves that burn slowly. It’s given plenty of space to grow (usually 24 inches on a row), with the aim of spawning a large, thick, oily leaf with very pronounced veins. After being cured, it turns a rich, dark color.

It was the only wrapper variety grown in the region, with the means of preparing these rugged leaves far more labor-intensive. Broadleaf plants are “topped,” meaning the flower on top is snapped off. This stops the flowers and suckers from diverting energy and nutrients away from the plant’s leaves.

The entire Broadleaf tobacco plant is harvested at once. Instead of priming, the plants are ”stalk cut,” meaning the whole plant is cut near the base with the swing of an axe.

Only about 60% of the cultivated plant is usable in producing Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, which is why they tend to command a higher price tag. However, that doesn’t stop them from being frequently used to envelope Maduro cigars.

What flavor are Connecticut cigar wrappers?

Cigars wrapped in Connecticut Shade are especially popular with newcomers because of their approachable flavor profile. The lighter, mellower shade leaf leans more towards the creamy and velvety side, known for its notes of cedar, coffee beans, cream, and nuts.

Connecticut Broadleaf smokes are not as subtle, boasting a heavy, muscular flavor. They have a rich, earthy core, with a delicate sweetness on the finish. Expect toasty hits of leather, minerals, and spice.

cigar wrappers

Popular Connecticut cigar wrappers

Rocky Patel Freedom Connecticut

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Connecticut

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Length: 6

Ring: 52

Strength: Mellow – Medium

Smoke Time: 75 –100 minutes

One of the more easy-going mellower blends from Rocky Patel Cigars, the Freedom Connecticut Toro is cloaked in a sleek golden-brown Connecticut shade wrapper. Housing Patel’s signature blend of perfectly aged Nicaraguan binder and long-filler tobaccos, this cigar delivers a full-flavored, fragrant profile of cedar, cocoa, leather, and toasted almonds.

Delicious with a sweet tea in the sunshine

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Ashton Classic Churchill

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Wrapper: Connecticut Shade

Binder: Dominican Republic

Filler: Dominican Republic

Length: 7.50

Ring: 52

Strength: Mellow

Smoke Time: 80 – 100 minutes

A wonderful morning smoke to enjoy with coffee and a good book, the Ashton Classic Churchill glistens with its smooth and shiny Connecticut Shade wrapper. It’s handmade in the Dominican Republic using the finest aged Dominican tobacco. This impressive 7 1/2” x 52 stick burns cool, easy, and slow with a mellowness that doesn’t overpower.

Nutty and creamy from the cold draw to the final puff of smoke, enjoy a luscious tapestry of brioche, cappuccino, hazelnuts, and sweet cedar, with hints of pepper on the finish.

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Tatuaje Reserva Cojonu 2012

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Length: 6.50

Ring: 52

Strength: Medium-Full

Smoke Time: 90 – 120 minutes

The Reserva Cojonu 2012 is a rich and earth-boy-pressed masterpiece from Pete Johnson at Tatuaje that’s also available in Habano and Sumatra wrappers. The Connecticut Broadleaf version sports a thick, coffee bean-hued colored wrapper with a dry, sandy-like feel.

The Cojunu (meaning “ballsy” in Spanish) progresses in body and strength throughout the lengthy smoking time, exploding with captivating coffee, dark berries, dark chocolate, and licorice notes.

Macanudo Ascot

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Wrapper: Connecticut

Binder: Mexico

Filler: Dominican Republic / Mexico

Length: 4.25

Ring: 32

Strength: Mellow

Smoke Time: 25 – 30 minutes

If you don’t have the time to enjoy a large, hand-rolled cigar, downsize to the modest 4.25 x 32 Macanudo Ascot for smooth, rich-tasting smoke on the go. The golden shade Connecticut wrapper covers an elegant blend of Dominican and Mexican tobacco.

Blessed with a mellow reputation, it offers the same leisurely and pleasant experience every time. Light up for joyous flourishes of almonds, soft cedar, sweet tobacco, and a hint of nutmeg. After all, they say the best things come in small packages.

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