Cigar Wrappers from Light to Dark
The old saying about being able to judge a book by its cover is dead on when it comes to cigars. Forget about the box, forget about the band; the outside of a cigar—its wrapper—will tell you more about how it will smoke than anything else will. You won’t find a full-bodied, spicy cigar cloaked in light green. And a mild smoke in an inky-brown, oily wrap is a rare thing indeed.
Cigar manufacturers have identified some hundred or so different wrapper colors and names over the years, but they basically boil down to eight basic categories. There are some variations in each—what one company will call a Colorado Claro might be classified as a plain Claro by another—but typically not enough to result in a discernable difference in strength and flavor.
In general, the darker the wrapper the fuller-bodied and sweeter the smoke, thanks to the greater concentrations of sugars and oils from longer sun exposure and curing.
Double Claro—Also called Candela, or Jade, ranging from very light green to light greenish brown. Very mild and bland; the leaves for these wrappers are picked before they’re fully developed and quickly heat-cured to develop their distinctive color. This wrapper was very popular in the U.S. in the 1950s, so it’s sometimes also called American Market Selection, or AMS.
Claro—Shade-grown, light tan to yellow tan in color. Neutral in flavor and a mild, smooth smoke. The color of many Connecticut Shade wrappers.
Natural—Also called English Market Select (EMS), grown in the sun and ranging from medium tan to brown. More oil than Claro; still a mild, smooth smoke.
Colorado Claro—Natural with a reddish tint (Colorado means red in Spanish).
Colorado—Also called Rosado. Medium to medium dark red-brown. Wrappers grown in Cameroon and the Dominican Republic often sport this color.
Colorado Maduro—Dark brown with a reddish hue. Often seen on cigars from Honduras, Nicaragua and Cameroon.
Maduro—Dark brown to very dark brown, heavier textured and typically with more visible veins. Often somewhat oily-looking, but not necessarily so. Sometimes called Spanish Market Select (SMS). Maduro is also a type of leaf processing that involves intense fermentation — here the term refers to color only. (A wrapper leaf processed as a maduro is usually maduro in color as well, but not always.)
Oscuro—The darkest of the dark, very dark brown to almost black. Like Maduros, some manufacturers use the SMS designation for Oscuros.
Just remember: these terms refer to the color of the leaf only. One of the cigars pictured below is a maduro; the other two are dark corojos. Can you tell which is which?
~sponsored by our friends at Cigars Direct
6 thoughts on “Cigar Wrapper Colors”
I have been thinking about using Pantone samples to describe the color of the wrapper in reviews.
Not a bad idea, Nick. I’ve wondered if the Agtron/SCAA system for coffee would work as well… it wouldn’t be familiar to a lot of people, but I think it would be very precise.
It’s funny — lots of folks still think darker cigars are stronger, more bitter, etc. Some of the best, sweetest cigars I’ve ever had have been maduros or oscuros.
Great post, Nick!
Useful – thanks.
Where I get confused or is it conned is when is a Maduro not a Maduro due to dyes being added to change the appearance ???
Good article Nick
roy.r, essex. UK
can you dye cigar wraps different color with non toxic dye?