Cigar Tobacco Growing Regions Explained
What different growing regions mean for your cigar experience
Even for regular cigar smokers, the significance of the different tobacco growing regions can be confusing. After all, cigars are a global business now: a cigar can be manufactured in the Dominican Republic using tobacco grown in Honduras and Connecticut-grown wrapper.
In other words, the phrase “country of origin” doesn’t necessarily mean much when it comes to the final cigar. While strong craftsmanship is ultimately the most important component of a high-quality cigar, where the tobacco was grown makes a difference in the character of your cigar.
Does it matter where cigar tobacco was grown?
Yes, it does matter where the tobacco used to make a cigar was grown. While great tobacco can be harvested from any established growing region, the topography of each region can impart different characteristics that will have a noticeable effect on the finished cigar.
Some cigar manufacturers choose to use tobacco grown only on one farm and in one region while many blend tobaccos from around the world to take advantage of the different traits they offer.
Explaining the different tobacco growing regions
When it comes to crafting a fine cigar, you can’t just grow tobacco anywhere. Technically speaking, you could grow tobacco on your apartment balcony, but it probably wouldn’t even come close to meeting the standards required for a decent cigar.
There are nine primary growing regions for the tobacco used to make cigars: Central Africa, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States. You can get a fantastic cigar featuring tobacco grown in any of these countries/tobacco-growing regions, but they are far from interchangeable. Here’s what you should know about different tobacco growing regions before you buy your next premium cigar.
Central African Tobacco (Cameroon)
Though less common due to climate and land management issues, Cameroon leaf grown in Africa using imported Sumatra seeds from Indonesia is a prized choice for neutral wrappers used to complement more robust filler tobacco. Cameroon wrappers are known for their distinctive grain — known as tooth — as well as their greenish-brown color
Our top pick featuring Cameroon tobacco: AJ Fernandez New World Cameroon Toro
Often thought of as the end-all be-all for great tobacco, Cuban tobacco is not currently used in cigars sold in North America. However, Cuban growing and manufacturing techniques are still used around by premium cigar makers around the world, and understanding what makes Cuban tobacco so special can help you understand more about cigars in general. Cuban soil has been carefully and deliberately cultivated for growing tobacco. Good Cuban-grown tobacco is exceptionally elastic, which lends itself well to the rolling process. From a flavor standpoint, Cuban tobacco is typically strong, generating healthy spice and floral notes.
No Cuban Cigars are for sale at Stogies World Class Cigars at this time
Over the past few decades, the Dominican Republic has emerged as a top-choice region for quality tobacco, offering North American smokers a close alternative to Cuban tobaccos. Many Dominican tobaccos are derived from Cuban seed varieties, making the DR the preferred region for Cuban cigar manufacturers like Ashton, Montecristo, Partagas, and Romeo y Julieta who want to sell their products in North America. However, Dominican soil has its own characteristics, often yielding leaf that is very rich in flavor, yet slightly more mild than that grown in Cuba.
Our top pick featuring Dominican tobacco: Arturo Fuente Double Chateau Fuente Sun Grown
When cigar manufacturers were seeking alternatives to Cuban tobacco following the U.S. trade embargo in the 1960s, Ecuador quickly emerged as a sought-after region for growing premium tobacco. Volcanic ash is well mixed into Ecuadorian soil, which many believe makes it ideal for growing tobacco. Additionally, Ecuador’s proximity to the equator means lots of sunshine coupled with near constant cloud cover. Unlike other regions, Ecuadorian tobacco is grown without shade, making it a less expensive region for growing Connecticut and Sumatran tobacco. Ecuador is known for producing silky wrappers sought after by brands including Punch and Arturo Fuente.
Our top pick featuring Ecuadoran tobacco: Crowned Heads Mil Dias Edmundo
They may be two separate countries, but Honduras and Nicaragua — which share a border — are incredibly similar when it comes to growing tobacco. Though both regions have experienced complications related to instability and unrest, tobacco grown in the region are still used in a variety of high-quality cigars. Tobacco grown in Honduras and Nicaragua are known to be strong and spicy.
Despite the similarities and proximity, there are some noteworthy differences between Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco. While most premium Honduran cigars feature tobacco grown from Cuban seeds, Nicaragua’s volcanic soil yields leaf famous for its sweet, earthy flavors.
Our top pick featuring Honduran tobacco: Rocky Patel Edge Maduro
Our top pick featuring Nicaraguan tobacco: Trinidad Espiritu Toro
Indonesia is the original home of the much beloved Sumatra cigar wrapper, known for its punchy flavor with pronounced notes of pepper and spice. Today, Sumatra wrappers are grown in multiple regions, including Honduras and Ecuador — variants that have to come to garner more acclaim than their Indonesian predecessor. Indonesian Sumatra wrappers are typically dark brown and slightly more neutral in flavor than variants grown in other regions, and are commonly used in smaller vitolas.
Our top pick featuring Indonesian tobacco: Blackbird Rook Sumatra Gran Toro
Just south of the border lies the San Andrés Valley, home to some of the world’s finest sun-grown Maduro wrappers. Compared to Nicaraguan Maduro wrappers, those grown in Mexico tend to deliver bigger flavors, including spices, notes of fresh coffee, chocolate, and black pepper. The Mexican growing region is particularly well-suited to growing Maduro wrappers because of the intense sun exposure, which results in a darker leaf color. Further, tobacco grown in the San Andrés Valley is traditionally stalk cut, not picked. This process allows the tobacco to retain some of its more earthy characteristics.
Our top pick featuring Mexican tobacco: Drew Estate Undercrown Gran Toro
Many think about imports when they think of cigars, but the United States also grows some fine tobacco for use in premium cigars. In the Connecticut River Valley just north of Hartford, some of the world’s finest wrappers are grown. Shade-grown Connecticut wrappers (also known simply as Shade) are prized by cigar manufacturers around the world for their elasticity and mild flavors, and typically come in a fine brown/brownish-yellow color. Shade isn’t the only tobacco grown in Connecticut. Sungrown broadleaf tobacco from Connecticut is commonly used in Maduro wrappers and is typically stalk cut similar to San Andrés tobacco.
Our top pick featuring American tobacco: Davidoff Signature 6000
Discovery great cigars from around the globe at Stogies World Class Cigars
Whether you’re new to cigars or a seasoned smoker, Stogies World Class Cigars offers a variety of great sticks at affordable prices. With hundreds of cigars in-stock and on our shelves, we offer smokers a journey through the finest cigars the world has to offer.
Subscribe to our mailing list for exclusive discounts and first-chance offers on rare and hard-to-find cigars from some of the world’s top manufacturers.