The Wrapper TrickFebruary 9, 2012

Adam Davidson
From the Editor: During my interview with Alan Rubin, the President of Alec Bradley Cigars, Alan taught us a neat trick that we call "The Wrapper Test". It’s a fun and interesting way to test how much the wrapper leaf of a cigar contributes to the overall flavor profile of that specific cigar. The 1 minute, 50 second video clip is below. My friend, and colleague in the pipe business, Pipe Maker Adam Davidson decided to try this after watching the video, and he reports on his results below. – Kevin Godbee


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After reading your interview about tasting cigars sans bottom skirt to detect flavor change, I put two cigars to the test today. Rocky Patel Edge Lite, and Edge Sumatra (both torpedo shapes).

Just for fun, I thought I would briefly share my experiences with you. I didn’t sit down to take extensive notes, but here’s what developed.


After clipping the cap, I used a large guillotine cutter that will clip a 6×60 to remove the skirt. Gently touching the blades to the wrapper, a little over an inch from the foot, I rotated the cigar like I was using a tubing cutter to cut copper. Being very careful, I took it off and just the wrapper unwrapped. A nice, crisp line was made. I used a torch lighter to toast the entire foot and carefully blow on it until it was orange. After this was ready, I took my first puff (this I how I light all cigars).

Edge Lite:

Really pronounced, sweet flavors were there from the first puff. Very delicious. I was surprised how good it was. Once the wrapper began to darken, sweet grass flavors showed themselves, as well as some light peppery spices. The burn was horrible before the wrapper, though, which I find unusual for Rocky Patel. Perhaps the wrapper envelops the binder much more than I thought? At any rate, the sweetness faded, much to my displeasure, but it ended up evening out for the remainder of the burn. One of my favorite cigars continues to be so.

Edge Sumatra:

After the initial snip, I wanted more draw. So, I tried to carefully snip off more of the cap. Much like a Mohel after too much Manischewitz, I botched the circumcision. Lesson learned for cigars (and circumcisions, I suppose). Cut once and deal with it.

The figure-outer that I am, took the cut skirt, wet it in my mouth, and wrapped it around the split. It looked and smoked perfect after this. A good trick! After toasting and taking the first puff like I did with the Lite, there was no sweet flavor (perhaps I was just hoping for some). Instead, the cigar tasted very much like a raw almond until the wrapper came into play.

It was interesting to see how the wrapper also looked like a belt that was too small for a man that was too large. The filler and binder slightly mushroomed out. I really enjoy this cigar, but it wasn’t very much before the wrapper came into play.

Once it did, however, the initial nuances were peppery spice followed by hints of chocolate. Baking chocolate. The kind that kids try from the cupboard because it says ‘chocolate’ and never take a second bite. A little later on (about another half-inch), bitter sweet chocolate starts to develop. Something like 85%. Later, still, the taste retains some chocolate, but evolves to a luke-warm cup of black coffee with only about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of sugar in it. These flavors persist, to some degree, with a dusty overtone throughout the smoke, though the sweetness can often be behind some other nutty flavors. I could no longer detect raw almond, though. Interesting.

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