- Carolina Barriga
What are the different types of tobacco used in cigars?
Updated: Jan 25
Under the ‘tobacco plant’ umbrella, there are several different strains each one yielding something unique. Their flavors vary depending on where they are grown and the conditions in which they grow. Here we present you with nine different types of tobacco hoping you learn something new about the leaves that make your cigars unique.
Tobacco Plant Strains
The Corojo leaf originated in South America, specifically in the Amazonas jungle. Today, it's grown in the Antilles islands, Central America, and Western Kentucky. The Corojo leaf is used for wrappers carrying a significant spice. The susceptibility of the Corojo leaf to disease made some brands abandon it and develop hybrids like Habano 2000.
Criollo means native in Spanish. Criollo is a type of tobacco thought to have been present in the Tahino culture centuries before Colon and his conquest. In Cuba, this strain was primarily used as filler. We can find Criollo in many countries, and none have anything to do with the Cuban Criollo. The Nicaraguan Criollo grown in Jalapa, for example, is quite sweet. The Criollo grown near Estelí is earthier and nuttier. Honduran Criollo is generally creamier and smoother. Criollo is gaining more popularity as a wrapper these days.
Habano & Habano 2000
Habano is mainly a wrapper leaf that is dark, spicy, and rich in aroma. Habano 2000 is a cross between Corojo and milder Cuban tobacco that is more disease resistant. The hybrid was created to create a strain with less propensity to blue mold.
Much of the tobacco used in today’s premium cigars is derived from Piloto tobacco. Piloto, or Piloto Cubano, is named for a town in Cuba in the tobacco-growing region of Pinar del Rio. Piloto is robust in flavor and full-bodied, usually carrying some spice. The leaves are supple and strong in Cuba when the crop is correct. In 1962, after most of the cigar industry was nationalized, some Piloto seeds were taken out of Cuba and into the Dominican Republic, and Dominican tobacco farmers began growing Piloto in the DR.
The other primary type of tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic is Olor. Olor is a native strain of the Dominican Republic. The leaves are thinner and less resilient than Piloto’s but are much sought after for their complexity and burning qualities.
Broadleaf is a sort of short tobacco plant that was often used as filler or binder but has become more popular as wrappers as darker cigars have gained a following. Some of the best are grown in Connecticut. It’s also quite expensive because it’s hard to handle. However, Broadleaf's flavor makes it worthwhile, and now it has gained some respect as a wrapper leaf. But you have to like your cigars to be bold. Broadleaf is now often used to make Maduro cigars.
Connecticut Shade Tobacco
Broadleaf’s cousin, growing side-by-side in the Connecticut River Valley, is Shade. While this refers primarily to growing tobacco under shade, the plant in Connecticut is tall and elegant in flavor. Connecticut Shade is a hybrid of Asian Sumatra and Cuban leaf obtained long before the embargo. Blocking the sun creates a thinner, more elastic leaf. The flavor is generally mild.
Cameroon tobacco, as the name indicates, comes from the African nation of the same name and the neighboring Central African Republic. The Cameroon strain was born from Sumatra seed. Cameroon is used mainly as wrapper leaf to flavor mild filler blends. Cameroon tends to convey notes of butter, pepper, and leather.
Sumatra is a black tobacco leaf that was originally found in Indonesia, but the most popular version is Ecuador Sumatra. Used primarily as wrapper leaf, we love this version's color, oil, and spice.
There are many different types of tobacco. This article mentioned a few, especially those used for premium hand-rolled cigars today like Chateau Diadem. Part of the science of creating a unique cigar is to blend different leaves and arrive at a product with a taste, draw and even color unique on its own. Chateau Diadem’s first blend, “Conviction,” involves Nicaraguan Criollo Esteli, Dominican Criollo 98, Dominican Piloto Cubano, Dominican Olor, and Ecuadorian Habano 2000.