Recently the cigar industry has taken a major interest in the Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper due to the dark color and delectable, flavorful tastes.
When you think about cigars and premium long filler tobacco, the United States is not necessarily the first place that comes to mind. However, the U.S has had a long romance with tobacco dating back to the New World.
In the 1700s, the tobacco grown in the Connecticut River Valley was one of the most valuable cash crops exported to Europe. Today, the majority of premium long leaf cigar tobacco emanating from the US is grown in Connecticut.
So, when you think of the U.S tobacco growing industry, Pennsylvania is probably not the first place you think of. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has a particularly rich history in tobacco and cigars.
The Origins of Tobacco in Pennsylvania
The term “stogie” originated in Lancaster, home of the legendary Conestoga wagon that carried families out West in the 1800s. The wagon masters would often smoke long cigars using coarser leaves that gave off a distinctly strong aroma.
These cigars became known as “stogies”. But it was in the 1700s that tobacco farming became popular in Pennsylvania. Lancaster County was the perfect place for early settlers due to the seasonal climate and fertile soil making it ideal for agriculture.
It was not until one hundred years later that the Amish and English farmers realized the humidity was ideal for growing tobacco. Until the 1980s, much of the Pennsylvania Broadleaf tobaccos were used as cigar filler.
The US Cigar Boom
For that decade of the 80’s, tobacco farmers so a decline in the cigar market. But, in the 1990s during the cigar boom, tobacco growers saw a resurgence as many blenders began buying the leaf once again.
The soil in Lancaster County is very rich in calcium, nitrogen, and potassium making the tobacco dense and tough but durable and very combustible. Blenders prefer the major advantages of these specific qualities when selecting a tobacco for use as a binder.
However, Pennsylvania Broadleaf tobacco as a wrapper was not very appealing due to its natural roughness and unattractive dark marbleized color. In order to ferment the tobacco to a point where the color evens out, it takes years of painstaking work which is often very costly.
The Rise of the Pennsylvania Broadleaf
Recently the cigar industry has taken a major interest in the Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. One blender, in particular, AJ Fernandez has taken his first bales from a multi-year fermented PA Broadleaf and the results have been met with rave reviews. 23 million pounds of Pennsylvania tobacco were grown in 2012; more than double what was produced as recently as 2005.
Pennsylvania Broadleaf is surprisingly easy to work with when blending tobacco. The leaf is rich and its complex core compliments a multitude of tobaccos from all around the world. The flavor of Pennsylvania Broadleaf is extraordinarily deep and distinct.
The leaf has a similar sweetness often associated with the Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro, yet the thick, nutrient-rich soil in Lancaster imparts a unique spiciness with leather at the core and subtle notes of espresso. The Rocky Patel Winter 2008 Collection 2008 blend had Nicaraguan filler an Ecuadorian binder that was balanced inside a mouthwatering dark Maduro wrapper from Pennsylvania.
The AJ Fernández label, Diesel, utilized the bold wrapper. At the fall 2016 IPCPR tradeshow, AJ Fernández released a second line of the original Last Call cigar replacing its Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper for a Nicaraguan-grown, Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro.
The short and inexpensive Last Call quickly became a successful launch for AJ Fernández. The recent attention garnered by Pennsylvania Broadleaf tobacco has led many other cigar makers to start sourcing and fermenting it in the hopes of replicating the recent success which AJ Fernandez has found with the wrapper.
Aficionados and enthusiasts alike can’t seem to peel themselves away from the majestic Pennsylvania Broadleaf. It is truly unique and flavorful.