Carlos Toraño Reserva Selecta Torpedo


Toraño’s Reserva Selecta line has been praised highly by Smoke magazine, Cigar Aficionado, and the leading European cigar magazine, European Cigar Cult Journal. In fact, last year the Cigar Cult Journal named Toraño Best Honduran Brand, and a Toraño made brand, the CAO Criollo, best Nicaraguan Brand. (As mentioned in a previous review, Toraño has factories in three countries: Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.)

Evidently Sr. Toraño is no slouch.

The Reserva Selecta cigars are made in the Danli, Honduras factory with tobacco aged from three to five years. There is a maduro version as well as this Connecticut shade natural. The binder is Indonesian, and the filler comes from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

This complex five-country blend is wrapped in cedar sleeves, banded twice, and then packaged in glass tubes. This is a very attractive cigar– If I weren’t so eager to smoke it I might try to frame it.

The wrapper is a classic example of Connecticut shade– smooth and silky with no prominent veins. The roll is firm. The pre-light draw is grassy, with a bitter taste on the tongue.

The initial taste is herbal and a little tannic, though this may be from the taste of the wrapper. Soon it becomes creamier and very very smooth. This is definitely a mild one, though it does build up to about a medium body in the final act. At about the half-way point it gets toasty and further on down it reveals nutty notes with just a hint of spice. The aftertaste is negligible.

The construction of this stick is superb. It lights up easily with a good draw and burns level straight. The light gray ash is solid and persistent. I ashed this cigar only three times.

While not huge on flavor, this is a very respectable cigar. I would recommend this to new smokers or aficionados of smooth mild cigars. Toraño has this available as a five pack gift package which would make a perfect gift for fathers, or fathers-in-law, or that godfather who has finally called upon you to do that service for him.

Carlos Toraño Tribute 2004 Maduro Churchill


A tribute to Carlos Toraño, Sr., the man who brought Cuban seed tobacco to the Dominican Republic for what was probably the first time, and with the cultivation of Piloto Cubano spawned the Dominican cigar as we know it today. There have actually been two “Tributes” thus far: the 2003, which had a natural wrapper, and this one, the 2004 maduro.

As is fitting with a special cigar, this is a limited edition of 1000 boxes only. The Costa Rican maduro wrapper is gorgeous, dripping with oil and redolent of earth and cedar. Within lies Nicaraguan and Dominican filler held by a Nicaraguan binder, all of which have been aged five or more years. The Tribute is rolled in Toraño’s Esteli, Nicaragua factory.

It fires up with a powerful earthy taste, very similar to the 1916 Cameroon, but without the spice of the Cameroon. There is a sharp element that quickly mellows.

But Houston, we have a problem. The draw is very loose, and for the first inch or so the cigar tunnels. The tunneling stops, but the burn remains very hot. I smoked this one very slowly, allowing the burn to correct itself. It does, but remains hot. I rarely do this with a cigar, but I decided to let it extinguish itself and return to it later. It’s such a pretty stick, and the flavor is so rich and lovely that I hate to can it because of a construction flaw. (Not to mention that it’s friggin expensive.)

Unfortunately, letting this cigar die in the hopes of a later resurrection was not such a good idea. Upon relighting it the same rich flavor was there, but the burn was still hot and I got sick of it pretty quickly.

At about 10 USD a pop, I’m not going to give this one another chance. I hope this was just a bad single, since other reviews indicate this is a great cigar. Keep in mind that this review is based on a single experience, but all in all I have to say I was disappointed.

Carlos Toraño Virtuoso Crescendo


6 1/2 x 54

Wrapper: Nicaragua

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama

If cigar magazines are to be believed, there is a widespread consumer demand for heavier bodied cigars. Meanwhile, the best selling cigars are still relatively mild, or at most medium bodied. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that a well balanced and nuanced mild cigar is every bit as worthy as a full bodied one. Sometimes you want a cigar like a Chopin nocturne; sometimes you feel like channeling Jimi Hendrix through a funnel of tobacco. Either experience has its place, its season, its mood.

The Virtuoso line is touted as a full bodied, bulldozer of a cigar. But it really isn’t. It’s a well balanced cigar that starts out medium bodied and does gradually build up to a full bodied smoke. It’s a gorgeous stick with good construction. Sungrown on Toraño’s Pueblo Nuevo farm in Condega, Nicaragua, the colorado maduro wrapper is smooth, slightly oily and very attractive. It burns unevenly at times, needing one correction in its journey to the nub.

The predominating flavor is earth and at times is quite pungent. A nice solid white ash forms and holds with determination. Midway the strength begins to kick in — somewhat unexpectedly because the smoke remains consistent, while the nicotine quietly sneaks up and pins a “Kick Me” sign on my back. And it did, or someone did… I had to put it down for a while and find a Cooper’s Stout to steady my stomach for the rest of the cigar.

All told, this is a very well balanced medium to full bodied cigar. It’s nice looking, well constructed, and blended for a smooth ride to the finish. For me it’s a little too earthy, if that’s the word — this cigar has a composty kind of aroma that just isn’t to my liking. But still it’s a high quality smoke that I will recommend to those who like… that sort of thing.

Carlos Toraño Cameroon 1916 Robusto


Wrapper: Cameroon

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua

Made in the Toraño factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and introduced in 2003, this is one of the best Cameroon wrapped cigars on the market, in my opinion. When its very reasonable price is factored into the equation, this smoke beats Fuente’s Hemingway line hands down. This is not to disparage the Hemingway in any way, but for the price of half a dozen Hemingway Signatures you can find a box of 1916s. And to tell you the truth, I enjoyed these robustos better than the last Signature I had.

1916 was the year Carlos Toraño Sr. emigrated from Spain to Cuba, and the 1916 moniker marks that occasion. Weighing in at 5 1/2 x 52, this robusto comes fully dressed with two bands and a cedar sleeve. Removing the sleeve reveals a smooth and oily cameroon wrapper with its telltale tooth.

The first few puffs are earthy and smooth, and this is a trait that continues to the end. The ash is white and a bit crumbly. The sweet spice of the cameroon leaf is the next course on the menu, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a very slow burning cigar, lasting nearly an hour. The smooth flavor continues throughout, and ends with a woody flavor spiked with a pervasive sweet spice that lingers in the nose. The cameroon leaf burns with a fragrance that smells almost like perfume. Good perfume, not that fruity stuff.

The aftertaste is a little bitter, but that is the only criticism I have of this cigar. (Maybe the aftertaste would be a little less pronounced if I could keep myself from smoking these to the nubbin.)

All Toraño cigars are draw tested, and I’ve never had one that didn’t draw really well. The construction standards applied here are clearly exceptional. Anyone who appreciates cameroon leaf and likes a smooth medium-bodied earthy taste in their smoke should definitely give this one a try.

Carlos Torano Nicaraguan Selection Perfecto


The Torano family has been in the tobacco business since the first part of the 20th century, starting when Don Santiago Torano moved from Spain to Cuba in 1916. Santiago and later his sons were primarily involved in the leaf trade and tobacco cultivation rather than cigar production, but this would change. After the communists nationalized the tobacco industries in Cuba, Santiago’s son Carlos fled to the Dominican Republic, taking with him a prized possession: Cuban seed, what would eventually become known as “piloto cubano.”

The Toranos would later focus on cigar making, and today the family makes tens of thousands of cigars in their three factories under the Torano name, as well as making cigars for C.A.O., Alec Bradley, and Gurkha.

This line, introduced in 1997, is made in their Nicaraguan factory located in Esteli. (Torano has factories in the Dominican Republic and Honduras as well.) It is no longer listed on the Torano website, so perhaps they are phasing it out. The Exodus line has been enormously popular and well reviewed, and following the trend for heavier-bodied smokes they have just unveiled the Virtuoso line, so maybe the Nicaraguan Selection is getting the heave-ho. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple left and I’ve seen em in stores at a pretty decent price (3 to 4 dollar range), so they’re not gone yet.

Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatran

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

5 3/4 x 50

I was expecting some nice spicy Nicaraguan smoke from this box-pressed perfecto, but it turned out to be less than I had hoped for. The construction is admirable, slow burning with an effortless draw. The foot alone burned for a good ten minutes before meeting the barrel. I found I had to take this one slowly to avoid a metallic twinge. And while it does mellow a bit with time, it is still a fairly harsh smoke. It does offer some spice, but it is unsophisticated. There is a woody element on the nose, but on the palate there’s not too much to recommend this one. Torano’s 1916 Cameroon is one of my favorite smokes, but the next time I think Nicaraguan I’ll be reaching for something else.