- Vitola: Cheroot
- 6” x 38 ring gauge
- ~$17 for a pack of 5
- Samples provided by Miami Cigar & Company
I used have this customer come in…older gentleman…he would always—and I mean every time he darkened our door—remark that he used to buy “cheap Eye-Talian cigars” back in the day. Yes, I spelled that just as he said it. Have to give you the whole picture. I never gave the issue of cheap Eye-Talian stogies much of thought until Miami Cigar started distributing Toscano’s products…and even moreso when they sent me a sample pack of the Classico, a Cheroot that recalls Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name from A Fistful of Dollars (and its sequels). I’ve been told that this is, in fact, NOT the cheroot he smokes in those films, but that is a different Toscano product. Maybe we’ll get to that next.
Toscano traces its history back to Columbus discovering the New World and bringing tobacco back to Europe. More specifically, though, they started around 1815 in Florence, Italy, producing cigars that were made of Kentucky leaf. They started cultivating tobacco in Italy around 1850, taking over 50 years to come up with a local variety that held onto the characteristics of Kentucky leaf they wanted. The Classico has been made since 1930. It uses “Italian and foreign Kentucky” fillers and an “Italian Kentucky” wrapper. It’s interesting that they still call it Italian Kentucky like we usually refer to Ecuadorian Connecticut…it’s just that the latter is much more common in our industry.
I smoked a couple of the Toscano Classicos before firing up this review sample. As noted above, Miami Cigar & Company sent me the samples for review.
On first glance, I want to say these are just a step or two above the Backwoods brand in appearance. On second glance, I really have to say that is confirmed. The Toscano Classico really isn’t much to look at. The wrapper leaf is really rough and rustic, gnarly and veiny like the hands of a very old man. The band is simple and barely hangs on. I think it’s mostly there to make sure you know which end to light and which end to puff on. The cigar was also crooked, but that’s not a big surprise since cheroots traditionally are made without using a mold of any kind.
The aroma of the wrapper was strong with hardwood fire smoke. There is definitely some hickory to it, but not nearly as strong as what I’ve always gotten from Drew Estate’s Kentucky Fire Cured line. Maybe a little more oak and a touch of mesquite to the aroma here. It definitely smells very much like a campfire. I really didn’t get much different on the foot
The end I was supposed to puff on (by the direction of the band) was thinner than the other end and the draw was a little tight on the prelight. The cold flavors were strongly of wood (no big surprise), but there was also a considerable amount of both baking and pepper spice in the mix.
Getting this small diameter stick actually burning takes more work than you would ever expect. Toasting, puffing and lighting…toasting some more, then puffing while lighting again. And the draw still seemed a little tight as I got it going. At the outset, the Toscano Classico had lots of wood smoke flavor (naturally), but there was a definite sweetness in the mix that defied exact characterization, along with a healthy amount of earth and a mild pepper spice on the palate. The retrohale had a sweet nuttiness, almost caramel and peanuts…so Cracker Jack, I guess, but without the popcorn. I could only stand the tight draw for a few minutes, then snipped off about a quarter-inch, which immediately made the draw better.
The sweetness ebbed out of the mix during the second third, as more woody and earthy notes took over. There was still a decent amount of pepper spice, but I did have to clip the tip again to get a better draw.
As I mentioned before, the draw was very tight at first, though somewhat alleviated by cutting some off the end. The ash was flaky and only held on for a quarter inch or less.
This is a cheap cigar…but really not as cheap as some bundle smokes. I guess “value” is going to most revolve around whether or not you like this flavor profile, but I’m going to give it the point available.
So this cigar is like tasting something out of a different time. It’s good, but not great to my palate…and it’s just not as affordable as it once was. You can probably thank the FDA for that as much as anyone else. If you like fire-cured tobacco or have an affinity for all-things-Italian, this is definitely worth trying.
This story originally appeared on leafenthusiasts.com