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Written by Puff Staff

Wednesday, 02 April 2008

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la aurorala aurora 1495 series connoisseur selection
ratings and scores
How much does the wrapper impact the flavor of a cigar? Here's a great way to find out.

At the 2007 RTDA, La Aurora Sales Director Jose Blanco presented us with an idea he had. 

“Cigar smokers are always asking me how much the wrapper affects the taste of a cigar.  5%?  10%?  20%?  More?”  stated the always friendly Blanco.

He continued, “To answer that question, we are going to release a cigar that has the same filler and binder, but the cigars will be available with four different wrappers.  The smokers can evaluate the effect of the wrapper on overall taste themselves.”

Enter the 1495 Series Connoisseur Selection.  The series shipped to retailers in a nice display unit of 100 cigars, 25 each of Connecticut, Cameroon, Corojo, and Brazilian wrappers.  The binder is Dominican, and the filler is a blend of Dominican, Peruvian, and Nicaraguan tobaccos.

We got our hands on the setup as described above, and for fun and experimentations sake decided to send out 2 of each wrapper style to 12 different people.  Of course we took the labels that identified the wrapper off the cigars.  All subjects..er I mean participants were asked to answer two simple questions:

1. What wrapper do you think you are smoking?
2. What are the different flavor profiles, and how much do you think the wrapper is effecting this.

As expected, the Connecticut was light tan, the Cameroon was dark brown, the Corojo was dark brown, and the Brazilian was a dark chocolate color, almost oscuro.  All the wrappers were smooth and free from defects or large veins.  It was easy to deduce the variances in the wrappers for someone with the labels on, but would it be for our panel of guinea pigs, participants when smoking without wrapper identification?

Obviously the wrapper would play a major role in the taste variations from cigar to cigar, especially in this case.  What we were after was how much each wrapper impacted the cigars.  After all was said and done, we compiled quite a bit of interesting data.  In the interest of publishing a short story versus a novel, we have summarized our results below.

Our overall summary is at the bottom of the article.  If you can't wait until then...just go get some of these and experiment for yourself, it's well worth it.

Connecticut Shade - Percentage Guessed Correctly:  100%

This cigar started with some spice and an almost imperceptible sweetness.  After about one fourth of the smoke, the spiciness took a back seat to earthy flavors.  The cigar was medium bodied.  At the midpoint, the flavors blended together giving some complexity and the overall taste smoothed out and became very creamy.  An almost perfect draw.

This cigar was unanimously reviewed as the lightest of the bunch.  This comes as no surprise as that has been the claim of Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars forever.  It was commented that this wrapper truly acted as a conductor and smoothed out the entire blend, steering the cigar in an entirely different direction than the other three blends.  The Connecticut shade wrapper still let the horsepower of the cigar come through, but in much more subtle tones.  While only 2 of the 12 indicated this their favorite cigar of the series, that may be more a reflection of the growing trend towards stronger cigars.

Cameroon - Percentage Guessed Correctly: 83% 

The Cameroon cigar started with some of the same spice, but none of the slight sweetness detected with the Connecticut wrapper.  The toothy appearance of the wrapper often gave away its identity early on.  The basic flavors and character of the Cameroon cigar were about the same as the Connecticut but slightly richer.  The Cameroon wrapper seemed to enhance the taste, but didn’t change the basic character of the cigar.  The three folks who missed this wrapper all thought it was the Corojo.  While the Corojo and the Cameroon were the only wrappers mixed up, it tells you they are much closer in flavor profile than the other wrappers.

The Cameroon was extremely popular amongst the reviewers, with 4 indicating it was their favorite blend, and numerous putting it a close second.  There were no negative comments, and all had a positive experience.  A few mentioned ageing this cigar for awhile to see how the blend develops.

Corojo - Percentage Guessed Correctly: 83%

The Corojo was another strongly received cigar.  The robusto started sharp and peppery, two attributes unanimously lauded in the Corojo wrapped version.  At the midpoint, the strength and taste seemed stronger than the Connecticut or Cameroon cigars.  The cigar seemed to mellow and blend more during the second half of the cigar and folks could taste the earthy flavors trying to come back, although the complexity didn't waiver.

5 of the 12 reviewers indicate this was their favorite cigar of the Series.

Brazil - Percentage Guessed Correctly: 100% 

The Brazilian wrapper cigar popped with spice the first few draws which would be expected.  The surprise for some was that the spiciness subsided fairly quickly after the first quarter inch.  This was by far the darkest wrapped cigar, and likely the reason everyone nailed it.  From a looks perspective, far and away the most popular.  From a flavor profile, only 1 of the 12 listed this cigar as their favorite in the series.

Summary

You simply have to try this yourself.  What a fun experiment.  Start with the Connecticut and work up through the strength and you will have a great time.  You'll also likely learn a little bit about what your favored profile is in regard to cigar wrappers.  You really can't lose by trying this since all 4 of these cigars would have rated in the high 80's or low 90's with our reviewers.  Buy a bunch, get some friends together, and herf and learn...it can't get much better.

If asking what, and how much effect does the wrapper choice have on the overall taste of a cigar?  We think there are several points to consider.  A cigar with a mild filler and binder blend will be affected more by a wrapper with a lot of strength and flavor.  A cigar with a robust flavor profile will be less affected by a wrapper with strong flavor and possible not at all by a more neutral wrapper.  A medium flavored cigar such as the 1495 will be affected somewhere in between.

This showed us that the wrapper selection is really part of the blending process.  The blenders probably go through the same exercise we did, but on a much larger scale either matching the wrapper to the filler/binder blend or visa versa.  We think the percentage of impact on the flavor will depend on the difference between the filler/binder and the wrapper.  And, of course, on how well matched they are.




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