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Cigar 101

All About Habano Wrappers

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

In today’s lesson, we learn how to pronounce a word in Spanish. Remember the following and you’ll be ahead of the game: The ‘H’ is silent. So, Habano, does not start off with the sound you make when you start laughing (Ha!), but more like the sound you make when you’re relaxing with a fine cigar with an Habano wrapper: Ah! The word is pronounced ah-bah-no. End of lesson.

Short History of the Habano Cigar Wrapper

There are really two strains of Habano wrapper leaf, the Habano and the Habano 2000. They both hail from Cuba and are hybrids created to resist disease that wiped out the Corojo leaf in the late 1990s. The Habano seeds made their way to different tobacco growing regions outside of Cuba and are now grown very successfully, especially in Ecuador and Nicaragua.


More important than the pronunciation are the reasons we like Habano cigar wrappers. Mainly we like the Habano wrapper’s flavor. It’s spicy, rich and the color is generally dark. Chocolate is commonly tasted in Habano wrappers. And the Habano cigar wrapper is going on many of your favorite cigars.


Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, the maker of My Father and other premium cigars, calls Ecuador Habano grown by the Oliva family “the best cigar wrapper in the entire world.” You can find the wrapper on Garcia’s Flor de las Antillas Maduro, which used to be all-Nicaraguan. The Torpedo, 6.125 x 52 ($9.00) is an excellent representative of the Habano wrapper that delivers medium-full flavor.

“It has all the characteristics such as a thick, rich and oily structure,” Garcia told Cigar Aficionado. “It’s also great tasting in flavor and the veins are hardly seen, which makes for a unique type of wrapper.”

Ecuador Habano also covers the San Cristobal Quintessence, another medium-full product of the Garcia factory in Nicaragua. The blend received ‘#3 Cigar of the Year’ honors for 2021 and a 95-point rating in Cigar Aficionado. The Epicure in this line, 6 x 52 ($9.00) conveys a balance of sweetness and rich, silky aromas. There’s a good bit of molasses, coffee and black pepper coming through. Sweet notes of dried fruit and sugarcane are also present.

Nicaraguan Habano can be found on Rocky Patel The Edge Habano, an all-Nicaraguan offering that is full-bodied. You’ll enjoy notes of black cherry, figs and earthy spices with a lot of cocoa, common to Habano cigar wrappers, in the Toro, 6 x 52 (about $7.00). There’s a lot of complexity in this cigar.

Ecuador Habano

The Oliva family (not to be confused with Oliva cigars) has grown tobacco for many, many years and is respected as among the best to ever grow some of the finest wrapper leaf in the world. So, it’s no surprise that, having begun in 2001, the Olivas grow some of the best Habano wrapper in the world in Ecuador where a constant cloud cover filters the sun’s rays and creates a Goldilocks moment, helping create leaves that don’t get too rough and aren’t too thick but just right.

The Habano plant’s leaves are kind of limp as they hang on the tobacco stalks.

“How it looks when it comes out of the barn,” John Oliva, Jr., explained while on his farm about three hours north of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s industrial center, “that’s the important part. Once you cure it in the barns, that’s when you know how good the leaf is. Or isn’t.”

Today, Oliva grows more Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf than any other.

Nicaragua Habano

While Nicaragua Habano is less common than Ecuador Habano, the varietal can be found on a handful of stronger cigars.

The bold and beefy profile of Cain relies on Cuban-seed tobacco grown in Nicaragua for popular blends like the 90-rated Cain Habano and the 92-rated Cain F. Notes of wood, cayenne, leather, and black pepper stand out. The brand is handcrafted at the award-winning Oliva factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The 90-rated Alec Bradley Nica Puro and the boutique brand, Asylum, also feature earthy and zesty tasting notes courtesy of Nicaraguan wrapper leaf grown from Habano seeds.

Best Habano Cigars

Check out our list of the top Habano cigars you can buy today. You’ll find several top-rated blends from the most talented cigar-makers, and they’re extremely consistent.

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