Wrapper The wrapper is the outside layer of tobacco and gives a cigar one of its primary flavor components. Wrappers are usually very high quality leaves, available in colors ranging from Double Claro (the lightest), to Oscuro (the darkest). Wrappers are very important to taste.
Binders The intermediate leaf used to hold the filler tobacco together. Binder leaves vary from one manufacturer to the next.
The bunch of tobacco the forms the center of the cigar. Generally, filler is responsible for determining how strong a cigar smokes. There are two types of filler: long filler (which contains the whole leaf running from the head to the foot of the cigar) and short filler (comprised of scraps of tobacco - often the trimmed ends of long fillers).
The blending of wrapper, filler and binder is what determines the overall flavor of a cigar. There is a definite art blending tobaccos to achieve particular flavors. As you smoke different cigars, you'll notice how the various tobaccos used interact with each other. One thing manufacturers do is use the same blend in different sizes, thus producing different tastes. The blend is the same, but the there is a difference in the proportions of each type of leaf used.
A veteran, experienced cigar roller will use different proportions in different sizes In a smaller ring cigar, the binder and wrapper have moreinfluence on taste. The roller accomodate this difference by using a different proportion of filler.
Double Claro (also called Candela or American Market Select) - green to greenish brown. The color is achieved by picking the leaf before it reaches maturity, and then drying it rapidly. Very mild, almost bland with very little oil.
Claro - Light tan. Usually this is the color of shade grown tobacco. Connecticut Shade wrappers are said to be some of the finest in the world. Shade grown tobacco is grown under large canopies to protect the tobacco from harsh sunlight. Neutral flavor and smooth smoking.
Natural (see also English Market Selection) - Light brown to brown. These are most often sun grown, meaning they are not protected by canopies like shade grown leaves. Fuller bodied flavor than shade grown leaves, but still very smooth.
Colorado Claro - Mid-brown, tawny. (For example, brands such as Dominican Partagas or Fuentes, using Camaroon wrappers.)
Colorado - Reddish dark brown, aromatic. A cigar with this wrapper tastes robust and rich.
Colorado Maduro - Dark brown, medium strength, slightly more aromatic the maduro. Usually gives a rich flavor, as found in many of the best Honduran cigars.
Maduro - Dark brown to very dark brown. These usually have more texture and veining than the lighter wrappers. They are often described as oily looking, with stronger taste - sweet to some palates with a unique aroma.
Oscuro - Very dark brown or almost black. They are the strongest tasting of all wrappers. These wrappers tend to be from Nicaragua, Brazil, Mexico, or Connecticut Broadleaf.
English Market Selection - A broad designation refering to brown cigars (anything other double claro essentially). The darker the color, the sweeter and stronger the flavor and the greater the oil and sugar content of the wrapper. Darker wrappers normally spend longer on the plant or come from greater altitudes. The additional exposure to the sun at higher altitudes tends to enhance the production of oil (which protects the plant) and sugar (because of increased photosynthesis). Sure leaves are typically fermented for longer as well.