When it comes to cigars, the dark side, those dark maduro wrapped sticks can seem scary to a mild cigar smoker or a newbie. They are perceived as strong, spicy, and an in your face style of smoke. Something one might describe as an after dinner stick to puff on. But I am here to tell you that not all fit that mold and looks can be deceiving. The color of the cigar is not necessarily indicative of the strength or spiciness of the stick. As a matter of fact, while the wrapper provides a majority of the flavor you experience in a cigar, the filler and sometime the binder provide the strength and spice you experience in the smoke. Take for example the Espinosa 901 La Bomba Warhead II.
The packaging may lead you to believe that this would be a strong in your face cigar, but in reality it is more of a flavor bomb than a spice bomb. I will agree that the first few puffs may be rough for a light body smoker but once you pass that initial burst of pepper the cigar settles down to a delightful well-balanced mix of flavors that will entice your flavor buds. You can read our review of it here.
Melvin Bossman Robinson from the Facebook group Bo$$man Cigars, describes cigar strength in this months guest article “Strong Cigars: How do they make them so potent?” It is a good read and very informative.
I have many friends that say they only smoke mild cigars. I appreciate that, but I would say they are missing out on some great smoking experiences by limiting their selection. I don’t mean they should move to ass kicking blends that make them feel like the first time they smoked a cigar. To the contrary, I would suggest they search out and read up on some of the darker more flavorful blends or talk to their local tobacconist about some of these sticks.
Cigars are generally described in two dimension Body and Flavor. Many smokers are not aware of what body means. So when they see a cigar described as “full” body they interpret it full strength and avoid it. In actuality the term body refers to the intensity of the smoke – how much smoke it produces. I have had many light smokes that produced an enormous amount of smoke but was still a mild cigar. The issue we have is that there should be a 3rd dimension “strength” which really is the amount of nicotine that the cigar delivers. A La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero is a full strength cigar, it beats me at times if I have not had something to eat before smoking it. That would be one that a mild cigar smoker should not rush into smoking.
If you see a nice dark maduro wrapped cigar though, it does not mean it will be strong. Maduro means that the leaf is ripe. It has achieved that color through a long fermentation process.
The process of fermentation brings the natural oils within the leaf to rise to the surface and as a result the leaf darkens. Remember all tobacco leaf starts out green when it is primed. Fermentation is done to enhance the flavor of the leaf and through the process the leaf actually becomes mellower. A really good example of this is the CAO MX2. It is a double maduro but not a strong cigar. It is full of flavor and complexity that would please any palate.
So the next time you reach for cigar, expand your horizon and move over to the dark side. If you do your homework you will be delighted and have a pleasurable smoking experience. You don’t have to be a masochist to enjoy a dark cigar. Talk to your local tobacconist and I am sure he/she will steer you in the right direction. I think once you move over to the dark side you will be believer.