Cigar Shapes, Sizes and Colors
A primer on cigar shapes, sizes and colors.
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Diademas are enormous, 8 1/2 inches or longer. The head is tapered, though often not to a complete point, usually with a 40 ring gauge. The cigar then tapers down to a foot that can be open like a parejo or closed like a perfecto, usually with a ring gauge of 52 or greater. This is a cigar to be enjoyed when time is no object. Example: Hoyo de Monterrey Diadema
Cigar wrappers come in a wide array of colors, from the palest of greens and yellows to dark black. Just as there are seven basic colors that make up the rainbow, there are seven basic color distinctions among wrappers, with an infinite number of shades between each color. A simple way to begin understanding the color designations is to remember that, just as the state of Colorado is in the middle of the United States, the color "colorado" comes in the center of the color range. Wrapper leaves vary in color due to the many methods for processing tobacco and the variety of tobacco strains used. Additionally, sunlight can play a factor: a wrapper grown in sunlight is typically darker than a shade-grown wrapper of an equivalent seed strain. From light to dark, the seven commonly used wrapper color descriptions are:
15 Double Claro (also called Candela) This wrapper is light green, a hue created by a quick-drying process using heat that locks in the green chlorophyll of the tobacco. Years ago, this wrapper was tremendously popular in the United States, and it was a point of amusement for Europeans.
A light tan color, most commonly achieved by growing in shade under cheesecloth tents, picking the plants early and air-drying the leaves. Flavorwise, these wrappers have little to offer, and allow the flavors of the filler tobaccos to dominate the taste of the cigar.
17 Colorado Claro
Light reddish-brown; often grown in direct sunlight, and given longer to mature before picking.
The center of the color scale. These cigars are medium-brown to brownish-red and full flavored, though soft and subtle in their aroma. These wrappers are often shade grown.
19 Colorado Maduro
Darker than colorado, lighter than maduro.
This shade can vary from a deep reddish-brown to almost black. Maduro means "mature" in Spanish, which refers to longer time needed to cure this color wrapper than wrappers that are lighter. For maduros, leaves are either toasted in a pressure chamber or fermented longer in above-average heat. A maduro wrapper lends significant flavor to a cigar: it tends to be mild in aroma, but to have robust, almost sweet flavor.
This black-as-night wrapper shade is achieved by leaving the leaves on the plant as long as possible, by using only the leaves from the top of the plant, and by fermenting them for an especially long time. Most often Brazilian or Mexican in origin, oscuro wrappers are often very rough, a result of the extra fermentation. This category is sometimes referred to as "black," "negro" or "double maduro."