Carlos Torano Virtuoso Forte

Virtuoso Toraño Forte Cigar

Score: 9.3

I was originally going to review the Virtuoso Maestro, the 7″ x 50 Churchill-sized cigar that Charlie Toraño gave me back at RTDA, but about halfway into the cigar I was called away, and never got to finish it. So, Charlie was kind enough to send me several Virtuoso Fortes, which now I’m glad he did. I was able to smoke more than one, which helped me form a more accurate opinion.

Let’s start with the centerpiece of this Virtuoso Toraño cigar that was officially reintroduced at the 2005 Retail Tobacco Dealers Association (RTDA) trade show in New Orleans. It’s what they call a “proprietary” wrapper leaf, grown exclusively by the Toraño family on their own Pueblo Nuevo plantation in the Condega region of Nicaragua. What’s even more interesting is that Toraño was originally trying to create a high-quality filler leaf from this tobacco. It’s a beautiful, dark-brown wrapper that’s mouthwateringly oily, very flavorful, and even-toned from head to foot, which gives you some idea as to why they decided to use it as a wrapper.

The foot lit cleanly across. The resulting smoke was thick, creamy, and rich-tasting with a sweet, full-bodied flavor and aroma, and a long finish. Due to its hefty dimensions, I didn’t push it. I let the cigar smoke itself, taking soft easy puffs to keep it on the cool side. Soon the ash exposed a bright white marble pattern. Each draw delivered a thick stream of smoke, aswarm with flavors of cedar, leather, spice, and a just a hint of brown sugar. At this stage, I was only about 3/4 of an inch into it!  And with this cigar weighing-in at a 56 ring, I had a feeling it was going to get very heady, and very soon. The cigar burned somewhat unevenly; not unusual in a wrapper of this type, which is thicker by nature. I should also note here that the second sample burned perfectly from the get-go.

At about one-third in, the cigar continued to smoke smoothly. It was certainly full-flavored, yet pleasantly not overpowering. (So far, so good.) At this point the wrapper was burning evenly, too. (A sign of good construction, when the burn corrects itself.) By the halfway point, the cigar was still extremely smooth, and to my surprise, did not intensify in strength. Rather, it maintained its balance and complexity. Although I would rank this cigar as being somewhat more powerful than what I’m usually comfortable with, it was incredibly satisfying.

Whether or not you’re familiar with the many other fine cigar lines the Toraño family produces, the Virtuoso Forte is a testament to the outstanding quality and wide range of flavors they have so successfully produced throughout the years. One of the reasons for this is they have such a wide variety of tobacco at their disposal. This cigar, with its Honduran, Nicaraguan and Panamanian filler, plus its unique Nicaraguan sun-grown wrapper, is a prime example. Save this one for after a big meal as a special dessert treat.

Appearance: 10
Construction: 10
Burn: 9
Draw: 9
Aroma: 9
Flavor: 9
Final score: 93

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor at

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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