Heart of Darkness
Rugged, dark Connecticut broadleaf is getting increasing respect as a wrapper for handmade, premium cigars
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“I remember cultivating here when I was 12, 13 years old,” says Dunn. The barn behind him, all of 120 years old, has been there since he was in short pants. But there was more tobacco grown in his youth. “There used to be tobacco across the street too.”
“You can’t replace land,” says Dunn with a chuckle.
Another bit of good news for broadleaf is that it grows best at home. While Connecticut shade has been grown in other parts of the world with great success—including Nicaragua, Honduras and especially Ecuador, which today grows far more Connecticut shade than Connecticut itself—Connecticut broadleaf just doesn’t taste the same when it’s grown elsewhere. Although some is grown in Pennsylvania to good effect, the microclimate of the Connecticut River Valley makes the leaf extremely distinctive.
Foster takes another puff on his Liga Privada No. 9, a Nicaraguan cigar cloaked in dark, oily wrappers grown on one of his farms. “If it wasn’t for the flavor of broadleaf,” he says simply, “we would have been out of business long ago.”