While I was working in the humidor this morning, a customer asked me why the Padron 6000 maduro singles were different shades. There were two distinctly different shades of cigars in the open box. I thought it was a great question with an interesting answer worth sharing to our other customers.
When the box of singles in our humidor gets down to 2 or 3 we open a new one and fill in. Cigars from a few different boxes might make up that open box on the shelf. In the factory, a roller will usually produce one blend all day. At the end of the day the cigars are sorted by color. If the cigars are packed in twenties, the worker will pull out 20 of the darkest cigars, then 20 of the next, and continue until they have boxed all of the cigars, with the lightest of that day's production filling the last boxes. Sorting the cigars this way ensures that all boxes are uniform; however, if you compare the first box packed with the last, there is a significant difference in color. This procedure is not only true for maduros but for all hand-rolled cigars. You may see color variations within the open boxes in our humidor because there are probably cigars from different boxes in that open box.
The follow-up question of course was, "What makes the maduro wrapper different?"
The English translation for maduro is ripe or mature. The leaves that make up a maduro wrapper are harvested from the top of the plant also known as ligero. These leaves are left to mature and ripen on the plant producing a thicker leaf that will withstand the higher temperatures used in the maduro fermentation process. The fermentation process makes the wrapper sweeter, not stronger. The seed and the soil in which the plant is grown will contribute to the strength and flavor. "Maduro" really relates to the process that the leaves go through, not the color. So don't assume that the dark color of the wrapper translates into a strong cigar. While a cigar gets much of its flavor from the wrapper, the binder and filler are what pack most of the punch.
Not all dark wrappers are maduro wrappers either. Sungrown wrappers are taken from the same part of the plant as the maduro but are left on the plant for a longer period of time to ripen and ferment in direct sunlight. Dye is sometimes used to make a wrapper darker. This process does not produce the same flavors and is considered by some to be deceitful. If your fingers turn brown while smoking a cigar, chances are the wrapper has been dyed. Some leaves are infused with a tea to make them darker. These cigars will be slightly sticky and leave a residue on your fingers.
If you like maduro cigars, I'm sure you already have your own favorites. Mine is the Arturo Fuente Exquisito Maduro. Other recommendations would be the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especiale and the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Maduro. You can find these and a vast array of other cigars in our humidor.
Tagged in: Cigar Basics Cigars La Gloria Cubana Low Country Pipe and Cigar