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Cigar 101

Ligero Tobacco

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

They might not admit it, but over the past decade or so, more and more cigar-makers have taken to adding ligero tobacco leaves to their blends to increase the potency of their cigars. This has led to some interesting mixed marriages of tobaccos from different countries going into cigars that traditionally used leaves from only one nation. Why? Well, the trend, which has now abated somewhat, has been to create stronger and stronger cigars. And that’s where Ligero comes in.

What Is Ligero Tobacco?

Ligero is one of the three basic grades of filler tobacco, along with Seco and Volado. Ligero leaves come from the top of the tobacco stalk and, because they receive the most sunlight, are the strongest. Among the strongest Ligeros is the one from the Estelí region of Nicaragua. It has now been used in cigars made in other countries, notably the Dominican Republic. Ligero means “light” in Spanish, referring to weight. The Ligero leaf, however, is thick in comparison with other types on the stalk.

Oily

Ligero leaves have the most oil of any leaves on the tobacco stalk. This helps provide a potent, full-bodied and spicy flavor in cigars. That said, Ligero leaves are not particularly fragrant and that’s why seco is often blended with Ligero.

Ligero Cigars

As mentioned, every cigar uses leaves from different parts of the tobacco plant. How much of each leaf is used influences the strength and flavor of a cigar. Ligero tobacco has not only become common in cigars but has become almost a category unto itself.

Fuente Fuente Opus X

The most sought-after cigars blended with Ligero tobacco are found in the Fuente Fuente Opus X line. Classic sizes like the Perfecxion X, ultra-rare shapes like the BBMF, and limited editions like the Opus X 20th Anniversary are all loaded with Ligero tobacco. Despite the strength of Opus X cigars, they’re unbelievably smooth because cigar-maker Carlito Fuente ages special reserves of his Opus X tobacco for several years, allowing the leaves to mellow considerably. He was the first cigar-maker to successfully cultivate wrapper crops in the Dominican Republic. The finest and heartiest wrappers grown on the Chateau de la Fuente estates embrace the Ligero tobaccos that go into Opus. The marriage of power and sophistication found in Opus X has made them the most coveted Arturo Fuente cigars ever created. They aren’t always easy to find, but they’re worth the search. 

La Flor Dominicana

Among the best Ligero cigars is La Flor Dominicana’s Ligero line. This group of cigars is finished in an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper and is very spicy. The blend is Dominican and Nicaraguan filler that provides an earthy and peppery experience. To say this is full-bodied is to be coy. Still, if you want something even fuller, the Oscuro-wrapped option offers a sweet aftertaste and elevates the power a couple of notches. The No. 300, 5.75 by 50, goes for $8.

Even more impressive is the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel, 6 by 54, for about $10. Litto Gomez, La Flor’s owner and creative leader, grows the Ligero for this cigar on his farm in the Dominican Republic. Then he puts a double dose of Ligero into it. Cigar Aficionado ranked the Double Ligero Chisel in their ‘Top 25 Cigars of the Year’ in 2018. This is, needless to say, a supremely powerful cigar, but it has a nice balance that should keep your tastebuds working throughout the smoke. It’s available in an Ecuador and Maduro wrapper.

Kristoff Ligero Maduro Robusto

The Kristoff Ligero Maduro Robusto, 5.5 by 54, about $9, has a lot of Ligero in it. The cigar is made in the Dominican Republic with Dominican and Nicaraguan filler covered in a dark, oily Brazilian wrapper. There’s a lot of earth, toast, espresso, and sweet cocoa in this surprisingly smooth cigar. Kristoff cigars are considered boutique by some, but you can regularly buy full boxes at a discount during one of our frequent Kristoff deals. The affordability and consistency of Kristoff cigars have made them immensely popular with value buyers.

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