All in the Wrapper

The Best Cigars for Beginners Share One Thing in Common

June 12, 2019 Drinks By Photo by Clifton Haynes
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Among the Spanish-rich language of cigars — from figurado to puro — one word stands out: Connecticut. No doubt you’ll see it if you peruse your local store’s walk-in humidor. The Connecticut wrapper is one of the more common cigar wrappers, and it’s one of the most unique, too.

Along with filler and binder tobacco, a cigar’s wrapper affects flavor and aroma, and it plays an important role in the way a cigar burns. The Connecticut wrapper, as opposed to the excellent Maduro or Habano wrappers grown in the Caribbean or elsewhere, is silky-smooth to the touch and extremely light in color. Even if the filler tobacco of a Connecticut-wrapper cigar is full-bodied and spicy, the light leaf lends a creamy mildness to the smoke. This makes Connecticut wrappers ideal for a new smoker; yet when paired with something more pungent, it adds the complexity and subtlety veteran smokers love.

The Connecticut tobacco industry has contracted in the past decade. Fewer people smoke cigars today than they once did; plus, growers in the Caribbean have figured out how to grow Connecticut-seed tobacco just as well, at a fraction of the cost. So, it’s likely that your Connecticut wrapper was actually grown in Ecuador or the Dominican Republic. Consider the geographical contradiction good conversation fodder while you’re enjoying your next one.

Nat Sherman Sterling Series

For decades, Nat Sherman was mainly a cigarette maker. But since a revamp in the 2010s, they’ve resurfaced among cigar smokers as a solid, affordable brand. Their Sterling series is a great introduction to Connecticut wrappers, with mild flavors and the right price tag.

Tasting Notes: Like an afternoon cup of milky coffee: creamy and buttery, with nutty and chocolatey notes.
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut
Price: $132, box of 10

Undercrown Shade by Drew Estate

Drew Estate was started by a couple American “frat boys” (their words) in the late ‘90s. Their alternative approach to flavor-infused cigars (they started ACID cigars in 1999) has given way to some more traditional lines, most notably Liga Privada and Undercrown, two cult-favorite brands. Undercrown’s shade line adds an Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut wrapper and a twist on their filler and binder blend.

Tasting Notes: Medium bodied, with early notes of wood and leather, growing into creamy, chewy coffee notes.
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
Binder: Sumatran
Wrapper: Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut
Price: $8+

Montecristo White Label

Montecristo is a classic brand, beloved by cigar smokers for just about everything they do. In particular, their flavors are known to be among the smoothest — starting with the famous Montecristo No. 2, a benchmark Cuban. The White Label line pairs a Connecticut wrapper to that smoothness, with great results.

Tasting Notes: Toasty, nutty flavors, paired with peppery spice that lingers on the back of the tongue.
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
Binder: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut
Price: $330 (box of 27)

Montecristo Churchill Natural

Just like the White Label, the Churchill “Classic” line (sometimes called Montecristo Yellow) is a line of mellow, smooth cigars. But its wrapper is grown in Connecticut, not Ecuador; inside, its all-Dominican filler and binder make a spicier, more medium-bodied smoke — easy to graduate to from the White Label.

Tasting Notes: Smooth, silky smoke, with creamy notes, wood, and white pepper.
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut
Price: $380 (box of 25)

Nub Connecticut

You’ll know a Nub when you see one. The brand is owned by Oliva, and makes short, stubby cigars. The idea is you get more of the bold flavors that come in the final third of the cigar — for the whole cigar. That adds a new, intense wrinkle to the Connecticut wrapper.

Tasting Notes: Rich, white smoke, with lots of buttery, nutty, and woody notes.
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut
Price: $8

Davidoff White Label Short Perfecto

Sometimes an expensive cigar is well worth the price. That might as well be Davidoff’s model; their sticks are the Ferrari of cigars. This short perfecto is a smaller smoke, which makes it a more affordable way to enjoy the brand’s complex tobacco blend.

Tasting Notes: Light, buttery smoke that eventually gives way to earthy spice in the last two thirds of the cigar.
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut
Price: $18+

Chris Wright

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