This section below is taken from a recent Cigar.com article:
When you think about cigars and premium long filler tobacco, the United States is not necessarily the first place that comes to mind, but the U.S. has had a long romance with tobacco dating back to the New World and beyond. In fact, tobacco grown in the North Eastern United States was one of the most valuable cash crops exported to Europe in the 1700s and ultimately was used to finance the Revolutionary War, which won our independence. It’s ironic looking back since a leading factor in the war was taxation and today tobacco is victimized by heavy taxes.
Premium U.S. long leaf as it relates to cigars is primarily grown in Connecticut where the lush soils sprout large broadleaf plants under the shade of cheesecloths. However, our focus in this article will take our readers to a part of U.S. tobacco country that until recently was rarely talked about in terms of growing tobacco for cigars, Lancaster County Pennsylvania. With a population of a half million, Lancaster County has both a large Amish and non-Amish population who count on tobacco as its chief cash crop, fueling much of the local economy. In fact, over 15 million pounds of tobacco are harvested in Lancaster every year, the bulk of which is used for cigarettes and chew but a small portion is sold to the cigar trade and is referred to as Pennsylvania Broadleaf.
Lancaster was an ideal choice for early settlers in the 1700s due to its favorable climate and fertile soil, making it ideal for farming and agriculture. It was not until one hundred years later that the Amish and English farmers started growing tobacco, realizing that the humidity in the region was ideal for farming tobacco.
Until the 1980s, much of the Pennsylvania Broadleaf grown for cigars was used in the filler of many of the most popular brands before falling out of favor for almost a decade. During the cigar boom of the 1990s, its popularity saw resurgence as many blenders began buying the leaf once again for use as binder. The soil in Lancaster County is very rich in nitrogen, potassium and calcium, making the tobacco thick and tough but also very combustible, all qualities cigar makers look for when selecting a binder. During this period in cigar history, many cigar makers did not consider Pennsylvania Broadleaf tobacco for wrapper on their blends because of its naturally rough and crude look that gave the exterior a dark marble color that was very unattractive to the eye. 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. However, over the past 12 months there has been a major interest in Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper as one blender in particular, AJ Fernandez, has taken his first bales from a multi-year fermented P.A. Broadleaf and the results have been met with rave reviews.
Since the advent of the Rocky Patel Winter Collection ‘08, brands such as Diesel, La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte and 5 Vegas Triple-A have started hitting the market and aficionados and enthusiasts alike can’t seem to peel themselves away from this majestic leaf. In fact, the recent attention this wrapper received has led many other cigar makers to start sourcing and fermenting it in the hopes of replicating the recent success AJ Fernandez has found with the wrapper.
So what exactly does this wrapper add to a cigar? Aside from the aforementioned qualities of durability and combustion which are major advantages to the construction and overall quality of a cigar, the flavor of Pennsylvania Broadleaf is unmistakable. While the leaf has a similar sweetness often associated with its sister leaf grown in Connecticut, the thick, nutrient rich soil in Lancaster imparts a unique spicy and leathery core that is often also described as having subtle espresso notes. While often times, specialty tobaccos are difficult to blend because of their unique flavors, Pennsylvania Broadleaf is surprisingly easy to work with when blending as its rich and complex core compliment a multitude of tobaccos from all over the world.
Some of the cigars which utilize the PA Broadleaf as a wrapper include:
Diesel Unholy Cocktail (have a 5′er on the way)
La Herencia Cubana Oscuro Fuerte (have a couple on the way to try)
5 Vegas AAA (yet to be released)