Random questions frequently asked by novice smokers and aspiring cigar connoisseurs
Are there really tobacco leaves grown in Connecticut?
Located just north of the city of Hartford, Connecticut lies a fantastic tobacco growing region within a river valley that runs through the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Unlike the rich, fertile soil of the Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, or Nicaragua, the Connecticut River Valley soil is of glacial origin, which was deposited after the last ice age. Tobacco grown in this region only occurs earlier in the year, between May and September, due to its northern geographic location. There are two tobacco varietals grown here - Connecticut Shade and Connecticut Broadleaf.
Well over a century ago, Sumatra seed wrapper tobacco was being imported into the United States; however, attempts to grow this wrapper tobacco in the Connecticut Valley failed. Around 1900, the Hazelwood varietal of Cuban seed was brought to the valley in attempts to emulate the Sumatra wrapper tobacco. It was found that this seed grown under muslin or cheese cloth shade produced excellent wrapper tobacco - hence, the birth of the Connecticut Shade wrapper. These plants grow quite tall, measuring over 10 feet and create brownish-yellow leaves with small veins, a high degree of elasticity, and mild- to medium-bodied flavor.
In contrast, Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco is sun-grown, and is small with enormous, heavy leaves with thick veins. These leaves are coarser and darker, and contain more oil, which is why they are commonly used for maduro wrappers. They typically require more fermentation than their shade-grown counterparts.
Check out this brief history of tobacco in Connecticut, from Nick Melillo, former master blender of Drew Estate, now founder/owner of Foundation Cigar Company