Up in a Puff of Connecticut Smoke

Oliva Cigar Company is known for making top-rated smokes.  But they’re taking aim at a new crowd – entry-level cigar smokers.  And they company is using Connecticut to help do that.  Kind of.

The Oliva Connecticut Wrapper Reserve is out this month.  It’s the company’s only boxed cigar that has a Connecticut-seed wrapper.

What does that mean?  It’s simple, really.  Connecticut tobacco seeds are flown down to Ecuador where it’s grown.

Ecuador and many South American companies are known for their tobacco prowess.  So why turn to Connecticut tobacco?

Mike Nicoletti is the owner of Have a Cigar in Vernon and Glastonbury.

He said Connecticut leaves are actually revered as being some of the best – and most expensive – cigar wrappers in the world.

“There are two types.  There’s broadleaf and then there’s shade,” he said.

Shade is what you see grown under those big nets along the side of the highway.  Broadleaf?  No net.

“They’re using broadleaf more and more in premium cigars – handmade cigars,” he said.  “And many smokes like the shade because it’s very mild.  The wrapper of the cigar has a lot to do with the flavor.”

Connecticut is an anomaly of sorts, said Nicoletti.

“Nobody is really quite sure why Connecticut leaves are so good,” he said.  “Maybe it’s the river?  Look at the big cigar tobacco regions such as Honduras, then look at Connecticut.  No one else has been able to do it.”

But just because the wrapper is local doesn’t mean it’s cheap.

“It’s a great wrapper,” he said.  “Combine that with the fact that the labor is so cheap in those other countries.  You don’t see a Connecticut shade grown cigar really for less than $6-7 dollars.  A true leaf grown in Connecticut is pretty expensive.”

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