Five Under-the-Radar Cigar Regions

Sure, everyone knows about leaves from Latin America – but you can also roll up a cigar with tobacco from places you might not expect.

To the general population, a cigar's country of origin is kind of like a litmus test of quality. A Cuban, for example, is thought to be top shelf. Other Latin American countries – Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic – are probably safe bets. And yes, a huge number of quality cigars are grown with tobacco that originates from that general area of the world – but there's more to the smoking world map than you might expect.


Cameroon

The tobacco from this part of West Africa is lightly rich and spicy, but otherwise fairly bland – but that's exactly what makes it highly prized. Because the flavor is so neutral, it makes an excellent wrapper when you've got more flavor-packed tobaccos in a cigar's filler and binder. It's also got a unique texture – often called "toothy" – that denotes a higher concentration of tobacco oils, and makes a finished cigar feel subtly coarse.


The US

Connecticut is probably not the first place you think of when you think of cigars. But the Connecticut River Valley actually grows some highly respected, extremely widely used tobacco called Connecticut shade. The oily, bright brown leaves are also steeply expensive – wrapper leaves of top-quality Connecticut tobacco can cost twice as high-end Honduras tobacco, for example. Cigar afficionados will know all about the stuff, of course, since it's so well used, so admittedly, it might be a stretch to bill this as an under-the-radar tobacco region – but given that it probably comes as a surprise to the cigar neophyte, we think it's fair game.


Italy

Ok, so this one is kind of cheating – Italian tobacco growers use transplanted Kentucky tobacco to make Toscano cigars in (you guessed it) Tuscany. But they do something a little different: they allow the leaves to undergo a wet fermentation for two to three weeks, giving the finished tobacco a unique flavor. The resulting cigars are particularly intense, with tons of nicotene and a powerfully savory flavor profile.


Turkey

Turkish tobacco is especially aromatic and has a distinct flavor that's often described as "Oriental," but it's used almost exclusively for cigarettes, and to a lesser extent, pipes – very little of the stuff gets made into cigars, perhaps because the leaves are much smaller (and therefore more difficult to roll into a cigar) than other varieties. That said, it is possible to use Turkish tobacco as a cigar filler or binder, especially is you're blending it with another type or two. You just can't use it for a wrapper.


Phillipines

The tobacco from this area isn't all that special, honestly – it's quite mild with only a very slight richness, used mostly as a filler in smaller and lower-quality cigars. But still, the country has a respectable business of growing and selling the stuff, even if you won't find it in many (or any) top-shelf cigars.

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