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Cigar 101

Connecticut Broadleaf Tobacco

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

Choice. In today’s cigar world, there are more choices than ever before for finding your particular flavor favorite. Much of what influences the flavor of a cigar is contained in the wrapper. Most new aficionados start out mild, maybe with a golden Connecticut Shade wrapper on a Macanudo or Ashton Cabinet Selection. As you gain more smoking experience, there’s generally a desire to go up a notch in flavor. Something a touch stronger. One easy way to do that is to stay with the same or similar cigar blend in the filler, but with a different wrapper. Often underrated, the Connecticut Broadleaf Tobacco wrapper has now found its place as that next step in flavor. And more.

WHAT IS CONNECTICUT BROADLEAF TOBACCO?

Well, first, yes Connecticut Broadleaf originated in the Connecticut River Valley, probably in the 1600s and was the only wrapper variety grown until about 1900 when Connecticut Shade was introduced. Broadleaf is grown directly exposed to the sun. It’s a short, bushy plant with very wide leaves – broadleaf – and, after being cured, they turn quite dark. These cured leaves are prized in the making of great Maduro-wrapped cigars. In the case of broadleaf, the plants are “stalk cut,” meaning the whole plant gets harvested at one time.

OUT OF THE SUN

The Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco seeds play a large part in the creation of one of the world’s most prized wrapper leaves, the Connecticut Shade. Shade is a hybrid tobacco that was developed by combining Connecticut Broadleaf, Sumatra, and Cuban seeds around 1900.

BEST CONNECTICUT BROADLEAF CIGARS

Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco is used principally as a wrapper. It’s difficult to work with and only about 60 percent of the cultivated plant is usable in the production of premium cigar wrappers. That makes it expensive. Still, as La Flor Dominicana’s owner, Litto Gomez, told Cigar Aficionado, “It has a lot of flavor. It has the best flavor of all.”

Gomez uses Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper brilliantly on the Maduro version of La Flor Dominicana’s small Perfecto flavor bomb, the El Jocko #1, 4.5 x 54, about $8. This Dominican cigar is perfect after breakfast, delivering sweet, creamy smoke with touches of cedar and nuts. There’s a little spice in the finish that leaves a pleasant impression.

If you want to test the step-up flavor method mentioned earlier, I highly recommend starting with an Ashton Cabinet Selection, then moving to an Ashton Aged Maduro No. 10, a 5 x 50 Robusto, just over $10, taking you from mild to mild-medium. Don’t let the dark color of the wrapper trick you into thinking your palate will be bulldozed. In truth, the toastiness delivered by a lengthy fermentation of the wrapper leaves makes this one of the sweeter, smoother cigars you’ll experience. You’ll keep it on your playlist for a long time.

Keep the Connecticut Broadleaf flavor-train moving by next lighting up an Arturo Fuente Añejo No. 50, 5.25 x 50, about $10 if you can find it. This is a full-bodied Dominican, the leaves of which are slowly aged in Cognac barrels, giving the cigar an extraordinary depth of flavor. Try to find it!

Made by the Garcia family, the cigar you might settle on, right in the medium range of power, is the La Aroma de Cuba. The Belicoso, 5.5 x 52 at less than $7, brings a ton of flavor from its Nicaraguan fillers wrapped in a toasty Connecticut Broadleaf coat. You’ll detect bold notes of cedar, earth, brown sugar and nuts tempered by a refreshing spice and smooth finish. Very rich, very approachable.

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