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Toscano Cigars.

Yes this was somewhat of a surprise. Being a non smoker and unsure as to the qualities of cigars, with the advice of the shop assistant I bought some Havana cigars from duty free as a gift for an Italian friend. He was happy to receive the gift stating that these were indeed high quality cigars.

After a few glasses of wine together he asked if he could share something with me, obviously I was intrigued, he brought out a packet of Toscano cigars, explaining that these are made in Tuscany and of a quality comparable to the Cubans. Happy to hear of this I went to the Tabacchi in Siena and bought various packets for friends back home, they agreed that the Toscano cigars were enjoyable and similar in quality to the Havana's.

Curently there are 27 varieties of cigars manufactured in Italy by Manifatture Sigaro Toscano (MST)

So how did Tuscan start making cigars?

In 1818, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand III, founded a tobacco factory that manufactured Toscano cigars. A bale of Kentucky tobacco leaves that had been drying in the open were caught in an unexpected downpour of rain. The wet tobacco started to ferment in the summer heat. It was decided that, instead of being thrown away, the fermented tobacco should be used to produce cigars to be sold in Florence. It gained popularity amongst Italians and thereafter became a regular production.

The Toscano cigar has a characteristic elliptical shape with truncated ends that have a smaller diameter than the central part. The diameter of the cigar varies depending on the type of Toscano, from a minimum of 13mm to 16.5mm. The lengths of various Toscano cigars are somewhat similar, ranging from a minimum of 155mm to a maximum of 163mm. The only exception is the Toscano "Il Moro" with notable dimensions of at its thickest point and 230mm long.

The Toscano cigar is not a typical cigar as the Kentucky tobacco used in making it is generally a pipe tobacco. Kentucky tobacco is cultivated in various regions of Italy, such as Tuscany, Campania, Lazio, Umbria, Veneto. For the wrapper, North American Kentucky leaves are used in various Toscano cigars because of its wider width. Kentucky leaves from Southern Italy, particularly Campania and Umbria, are used to attain certain sweet flavours found in Toscano Garibaldi and Toscanello Garibaldi.

The tobacco leaves first undergo a type of wet fermentation, in which they are moistened and flame-cured in ovens fuelled by oak and beech woods for 15 to 20 days, which infuse the Toscano cigar with a unique flavour. During this stage, the leaves are arranged neatly onto strings in special cells equipped with a "Stendaggio" system and air valves for moisture regulation. Temperature regulation is controlled through the increase or decrease of wood fire. This whole process ensures that the Kentucky tobacco is completely cured. The tobacco, which is used as filler, is a blend of Italian traditionally-grown Kentucky and North American Kentucky. The flavoured Toscanello cigars use a filler blend of Italian, South American, and Far East Kentucky tobacco.

Unlike Caribbean cigars, where a binder is rolled around the filler tobacco before the wrapper tobacco covers it, the Toscano cigar is made by rolling the filler tobacco with only the wrapper tobacco, without any binder. The production of cigars then continues on two lines - production by hand for high quality and limited edition cigars, and production by machine. In the production by hand, a cigar roller known as "sigaraia" produces up to 520 cigars per day. After rolling, the cigars are air-dried in an aging chamber. Depending on the duration of maturation, different qualities result. The cigars are placed in ventilated cells with controlled humidity levels. The aging period varies depending on the type of cigar. Some of the high-quality Toscano cigars are hand-rolled such as the Toscano Il Moro, Toscano Il Presidente, Toscano Originale.

Toscano are strong, intense cigars with a high nicotine proportion. Typically, the aromas and scents released when smoked are full, intense and savoury. The varieties marketed may be marked by strength, sweetness and flavour. In the Toscano range, Toscano ExtraVecchio is said to be strong and determined. The Toscano production is characterized by calmness, purity and persistence of flavour. Toscano Garibaldi uses Kentucky leaves with higher sugar content in its production and its aroma tastes sweet, gentle and vigorous, suitable for beginner smokers.

Traditionally, they are not smoked as a whole, but cut in the middle. They are considered dry cigars or cheroots which means they do not have to be stored in a humidor. It is very much different from the Caribbean cigars which will dry up and crack if not stored in a humidor. The Kentucky tobacco is not hygroscopic after undergoing special fermentation and can be stored for years at room temperature without losing its quality. Ideally, the Toscano cigar should have an internal humidity between 12% and 14%, and a storage humidity of between 65% and 70%.

The Toscano cigars are made and sold in 27 different varieties:

Toscano Originale

Toscano Il Moro

Toscanello Anice

Toscano Originale 150

Toscano Extravecchio

Toscanello Caffe

Toscano Originale Selected

Toscano Classico

Toscanello Fondente (Dark Chocolate)

Toscano Originale Millennium

Toscano Classico Vintage

Toscanello Garibaldi

Toscano Antica Riserva

Toscano Garibaldi

Toscanello Grappa

Toscano Antica Tradizione

Toscano Mascagni

Toscanello Mocha

Toscano Antico

Toscano Modigliani

Toscanello Scelto

Toscano Anno Domini 1492

Toscano Soldati

Toscanello Speciale

Toscano del Presidente


Toscanello Vanilla

I do not advocate for anyone to start smoking, but I know some will find this interesting

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