Since 30-70% of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper, the type of tobacco used will have a huge influence on the taste. The general categories are by the color of the wrapper leaf, but this is not necessarily an indication of strength or flavor. The problem is that all manufacturers seem to have their own terminology for wrapper colors. Here’s a generic rundown:
Claro or Candela (also called Extra Claro or American Market Selection (AMS))- This is a green wrapper created by heat-treating the leaf shortly after harvesting. This is usually a mellow wrapper with some sweetness, and, typically, a bit of herbal bitterness as well. Claro was the most popular wrapper for the American market during the 50’s and 60’s, but now is a fairly small share of sales.
Natural (also called English Claro, English Market Selection (EMS))- These wrappers are usually light brown or beige in color, and includes most of the Connecticut shade-grown tobaccos. They are normally thin, delicate wrappers and have a leathery, woody, or nutty flavor.
Colorado (also called Rosado or Colorado Maduro)- This is a medium reddish-brown wrapper, and in many cases, it will have a fair amount of spiciness about it. This type of leaf may be a bit thicker and heartier than the lighter colors, as it is normally a sungrown type.
Maduro (also called Spanish Market Selection (SMS), Maduro Maduro, Double Maduro, Oscuro)- These are the dark brown to near black wrappers, and although they tend to impart a full-bodied flavor, they also tend to be somewhat sweet and not all that spicy. Although I’d like to address the different strains of leaves (corojo, criollo, piloto cubano, etc.), I’ll deal with them in a separate article called Cigar Tobacco Varieties.