The tobacco leaf on the outside of a handmade cigar – the wrapper – is to start with, an essential structural element.

The wrapper must be supple so it doesn't split as the cigar is rolled. It is also an important contributor to the cigar's flavor and appearance. Ideally, a wrapper leaf should be of consistent color and have no prominent veins or blemishes. Because wrapper leaves must meet so many requirements, they are carefully grown, aged and selected. Wrappers come in many varieties and some of the most important recent advances in cigars have been innovative wrappers. Here are a few of the types of wrappers you'll want to experience:

CONNECTICUT SHADE: This wrapper leaf descends from the Hazelwood strain of Cuban Seed. Its distinctive golden color is attained by growing it in the shade of huge tents in the Connecticut River Valley.

CONNECTICUT BROADLEAF: Also from the Connecticut River Valley, this leaf is grown in the sun, which results in a coarser, darker, sweeter wrapper.

HABANA 2000™: is an exciting new wrapper made from Cuban Seed tobacco grown in Nicaragua.

MADURO: A shade of wrapper varying from a very dark brown to almost black. The color results from longer exposure to the sun, a cooking process or longer fermentation. Mexican wrapper leaves are often used as Maduro wrappers.

TBN: Shade-grown in Indonesia and carefully fermented, this dark wrapper was created by marrying special strains of Java with Connecticut tobacco.