Another great question and another controversial topic this week.
A lot of emphasis is put on the cigars wrapper in terms to the overall flavour of a cigar; however I've long disagreed with this theory (seems I disagree with a lot of things).
This week I am going to share my thoughts on the subject of Cigar Wrapper vs Cigar Binder vs Cigar Filler tobaccos and their relationship to the overall flavour and strength of a cigar.
At a really basic level, a cigar is nothing more than three parts (well, four technically); Wrapper, Binder and Filler... and a Cap if we are being technical... but it is just a sliver of the wrapper if you're being pedantic.
Wrapper Tobacco ultimately this is the glory bit of tobacco; it needs to be flawless and make the cigar look as attractive as possible and of course adds to the flavour profile
Binder Tobacco this is the second key bit flavoursome tobacco; here though what would normally be wrapper tobacco but simply didn't have the looks is often used as binder tobaccos; that's why in recent years you'll see Cameroon and Broadleaf tobaccos snuck in here; they were too ugly for the wrapper; but can be used as the binder and doubles-down on adding to the overall flavour profile
Filler Tobaccos this is where the real craftsmanship comes to play; filler tobaccos need to be blended perfectly to provide balance, correct burn and again, finesse the flavour profile and determine the strength of the cigar
But what roles do these parts play and really, how much influence does the wrapper have on the overall cigar flavour and why do I disagree with the common theory that the wrapper has a large(r) role to play in the flavour of a cigar?
Now, I won't go into the different tobacco primming's and individual strains of tobacco (lets save that monumental task for another blog) - but at a brief look; a cigar takes a few different key tobacco elements to a) burn correctly; b) have the right strength the blender is aiming for and c) flavour profile.
Essentially, if the blender does not get the mix (blend) correct; then the cigar will simply not burn well, not taste good and may lack strength or have too much strength.
Most brand portfolios as you know cover mild, medium and strong and yes, at a very basic level that can be lite (shade - usually Connecticut), medium (natural - usually Habano) and strong (dark - usually maduro).
But that is a seriously basic overview - as you can easily get lite, medium and strong in differing formats using any of the above mentioned tobaccos.
Again, it is all down to the blend and the target audience.
As you can see, there is a clear difference between the three main elements of the cigar and the tobaccos used.
Like my other previous BLOG posts, pretty much every cigar site I've researched all put the flavour of the cigar down to the wrapper; or at least say it heavily influences the flavour...
Look at the size of your cigar and you'll quickly realise the wrapper (the very outer layer of tobacco) is in percentages a fraction of the overall amount of tobacco your about to enjoy.
But its not that simple; yes, extra weight needs to be added to the wrapper as it is in direct contact with your lips; maybe this is why so many people believe the flavour of the cigar comes largely from the wrapper?
However, I struggle with this simple conclusion purely because of the vast amount of tobacco in the cigar vs the wrapper... if this was the case, we should just sell Panatela style cigars (thin & long) and not waste so much filler tobaccos and just enjoy the wrapper.
When you deconstruct a cigars blend, there is so much in the filler tobaccos that I struggle with the notion, struggling to also articulate my view on this too it seems.
There are some (not many) cigars in recent years that have a half-inch or so of shaggy foot exposed with no wrapper; now when I smoke those I can easily determine that there is a subtle difference in flavour from that first half-inch; but in all of the ones I've smoked and enjoyed, once you hit the wrapper the flavour of the cigar does not suddenly change; it simply "improves" for want of a better word; gets a touch smoother in my mind, but definitely doesn't jump in overall flavour.
Lastly, I'll leave you with this - on many a sad occasion I have had a cigar where the wrapper has been damaged and inevitably it falls completely off at the last inch or worse, couple of inches; if the wrapper does play a profound influence on the flavour of the cigar as soo many websites say; then how come the cigar sans the wrapper continues to burn just fine and the flavour also largely remains the same?
Personally I call BS on the overriding thinking that the wrapper is a major player in the flavour of your cigar...
Well... so I've done my best to dispel this myth; but it has now opened up more BLOG subjects... different types of tobaccos, how they differ from their origin countries, what are the different primmings, what affect aging and fermentation has on tobaccos, sun grown, shade grown etc. etc. etc. guess I've got plenty of research and writing ahead of me my fellow aficionados...