Why Are Some Cigar Wrappers Oily?
All cigar wrappers are oily to some degree, as oil is part of tobacco’s makeup. But some wrappers definitely have a more oily or shiny appearance than others. Some even contain small bumps of oil, called tooth, which can give them even more distinctive taste and aroma.
How tobacco leaves are grown and the processing they go through have a lot to do with the amount of oil they contain. Leaves that are picked young, before they reach maturity, will contain less oil than fully mature leaves. If the leaves are then dried rapidly, as is done for wrappers on the light side--double claros and claros are good examples--their oil content will go even lower.
The amount of sun that hits the leaves while they’re growing will also govern oil content. Shade-grown leaves are lower in oil than tobacco that grows in full sun, as the sun stimulates oil production in the leaves. Combine a sun-grown leaf with long fermentation and roasting, such as done with tobacco intended for maduro wrappers, and you can end up with wrappers that literally glisten with an elegant sheen of surface oil.
When you see--and feel--an oily wrapper, consider it a good thing. It means that the cigar it’s on has been stored properly, in the correct humidity, as the proper humidity—70 to 72 percent—allows cigars to maintain the proper moisture, and their essential oils. It’s also, according to the most authoritative sources, the temperature at which oil secretes from tobacco. Dry, dull wrappers are a sign that cigars have been stored in low humidity, and that the oils behind their distinctive taste have evaporated.