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How much of a cigar’s flavor comes from the wrapper?

I’ve heard this question asked many times by cigar buyers, and depending on who’s answering the question—whether it’s a cigar manufacturer or a cigar retailer—most of the time, I find myself disagreeing with the responses.

Some of the more “generic” answers I’ve heard are “between 70 and 80 percent,” meaning that 70 to 80 percent of the flavor of any given cigar has to do with the wrapper that’s used. But in my opinion, answers like that are not responsible. In truth, it’s a much more complicated question to answer.

For instance, I’ve heard it said that it also depends on the size of the cigar in question, and I agree. The ratio of binder to filler is certainly different on a 46-ring cigar compared to a 60-ring cigar, so it makes perfect sense that size should influence taste. But what isn’t often talked about is the actual blend and type of wrapper. Let me give you two examples. 

Cigar 1 uses a thick, high priming (strong and flavorful) broadleaf wrapper and low priming (smooth and mild) tobaccos as filler. 

Cigar 2 uses a thin, low priming (smooth and mild) wrapper and very hearty (flavor and nicotine rich) high-priming tobaccos as filler. 

In this example, Cigar 1 would be significantly dominated by the wrapper’s flavor, while Cigar 2 would be much less affected by it. This would likely hold true in just about any size cigar. 

I’ve always believed that the wrapper and blend (binder and fillers) should complement one another. I’ve worked on some really amazing blends where the wrapper actually wound up masking the enjoyment of the blend. In other cases, the wrapper added value without sacrificing any of the personality of the binder and fillers. 

The bottom line is this: It’s fun to debate these types of issues, but the answer isn’t always as simple as spouting off an across-the-board percentage. Every cigar is unique, and there are a lot of variables at play that can impact a smoker’s enjoyment of it. Ultimately, a perfect blend should be a balance of quality ingredients that play nicely with one another. If there’s any real answer, that’s it.

– BRANDON HAYES

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