Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 01 July 2006

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In 1916, Don Santiago Toraño emigrated from Spain to Cuba. His new home, the Pinar del Rio region, grew tobacco without equal in the world, and Toraño dreamed of making his mark. Little did he know the heights to which he would build the family’s name in the premium cigar world. But in 2006, after 90 years, few cigar producers stand in the light Toraño does, in terms of origin, lineage and accomplishments. 

"My great grandfather planted the seeds of not only tobacco," states company president Charlie Toraño (38), "but also of a reputation for quality, a rich history, and a world-respected name. In a short time, he was a leading supplier to the most legendary cigar names in Havana. By the 1950s, he and his 3 sons owned some of the largest plantations on the island. 

"Upon his death, my grandfather Carlos Toraño carried on the business. Our family's holdings grew to 17 tobacco farms throughout Cuba. But, in 1960, our family fled the island when Castro seized all our land. My exiled grandfather helped General Cigar's Connecticut farming operation, but made a landmark decision after 2 years. Convinced the Dominican Republic held promise for growing choice dark tobacco, he moved there. We take pride in his wisdom in being one of the first to introduce Cuban seed tobacco there. His vision contributed to making it the world's leading supplier of tobacco and cigars to this day." 

Carlos Toraño made such a vital contribution to the DR's cigar industry, the national newspaper's eulogy stated, upon his death in 1970 in his tobacco barn, "Toraño created a new powerful source of money for the agricultural industry of the Dominican Republic." The Toraño family keeps his memory alive by releasing a limited-edition Tribute cigar...two have been released to date, with more to come.

According to Charlie Toraño, "My father, also named Carlos Toraño, guided the company through the succeeding 25 years, to become one of the largest private label manufacturers of premium cigars." The family continues to make cigars for some of the most respected brands today, as well as their highly sought-after, consistently top-rated brands. These include the Exodus 1959 and Exodus Silver (named for their Cuban exile), Reserva Selecta, Signature Collection, 1916 Cameroon (honoring Don Santiago) and Casa Toraño (the long-time private family cigar). 

They also own their own factories in the major cigar-producing countries of Honduras and Nicaragua. Last year, Charlie Toraño (38) rose to the post of president, succeeding his father, Carlos Toraño (63), who is now the chairman of the board of Toraño Cigars, Central American Tobacco (their private label company) and other family businesses. Charlie Toraño cites explosive sales of both their own and private label cigars for this personnel change. 

In honor of 90 years of continuous business operation, Charlie Toraño reports, "We have worked for 3 years to create a cigar worthy of the celebration. We will soon introduce a new cigar, the Noventa ("90" in Spanish), which also is unique in that its blend will be Nicaraguan leaf. We began growing tobacco there 5 years ago, near Esteli and in a small town called Pueblo Nuevo. In the Toraño tradition, this cigar promises to be nothing less than spectacular."

Carlos Toraño, Sr., namesake for Toraño Cigars, savoring one of his cigars in a rare 1948 photo

Carlos Torano

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