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Written by Patrick Lauer

Saturday, 10 September 2005

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Carlos Toraño, the man with the name on the band, sits down for a brief chat to discuss his views on the cigar industry, whether another "cigar boom" is happening, his opinion on the anti-smoking efforts and new products from Toraño Cigars.

Cigar Review: How long has the Toraño family been in the cigar business?

Carlos Toraño: The Toraño Family has been in the TOBACCO business since 1916. We were growers of tobacco in Cuba. After the so called revolution, our family fled and my father, also named Carlos Toraño, began growing tobacco in the Dominican Republic. Still today my father is given a tremendous amount of credit for helping to create the tobacco industry in the Dominican. Charlie and Carlos Torano

With respect to cigars, we started in the cigar business in 1981. First we started as merely a broker of cigars, facilitating deals between distributors and cigar factories. The thought was that if we helped to create business for the cigar factory, then they would need to buy more leaf tobacco from us. I ultimately made the move to cigars full time (as opposed to the leaf business) in the early 1990s. Today, we own and operate cigar factories in Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.


CR: When did you get involved in the family business?

Toraño: After my father died in the early 1970s, I joined the business with my cousins. That was more than 30 years ago.

CR: Since moving to the US, has the Toraño Cigar business always been in Miami?

Toraño: Yes, we have always been headquartered in Miami.

CR: What is your perspective on the current status of the Cigar Industry?

Toraño: It’s the best it’s ever been. First, with respect to the quality of cigars, all manufacturers know that if they don’t produce top quality, they will fail miserably. The competition is fierce and we are certainly trying to distinguish ourselves through our quality. The smoker today is much better educated on what makes a good cigar and thus he (or she) is demanding that quality and we are delivering it. Also, despite all the governmental regulations and taxes, the industry is very healthy right now. It is clear that cigars are not a fad, but have become an entrenched part of the culture where people enjoy good wine, spirits etc, and a good cigar. All in all, we are very happy with how things are going.

CR: Is business good for the Toraño brand right now?

Toraño: Business is very good. Over the last four years or so we have seen a tremendous awareness among smokers of the Toraño brand. Of course, this has translated to a strong growth in sales. We are working to create a true community of Toraño smokers through our website, our smoking events, our promotional activities and our overall spirit of reaching out to our consumers. We are a family business. We want our smokers to feel a part of our family. A strong brand takes many years to create. We don’t want to be the next hottest brand. We want strong and loyal sustainable growth so that when we look back 10 or 20 years from now, we can be proud of the brand and grateful to those who have supported us.

CR: Some say we are heading into a new cigar boom, Do you think we are headed that way?

Toraño: Depends on how you define “boom.” I would define the last boom as a market where the demand was bigger than supply. We are not in that situation. There are still enough cigars to feed the market. However, the market has been steadily growing and the numbers for the year 2005, if they continue, show a double digit growth this year. If we have double digit growth for say three years in a row, then one can argue that indeed we are experiencing another boom. Either way, I think the more important question is whether the growth is real and sustainable. We think it is. We think the smokers that we have today and are joining the ranks are not fad smokers, but rather people who enjoy the experience and all that cigars have to offer.
Charlie Torano

CR: Do you think the TV advertisements from truth.com have hurt or actually helped the tobacco industry?

Toraño: I certainly don’t think it’s hurt the cigar business. Although the government doesn’t recognize the difference between cigars and cigarettes, I think smokers know the difference very well. Thus, all the personal attacks against the cigarette executives etc., have not translated to the cigar business.

CR: What do you think of this new wave of smoking bans across the United States?

Toraño: While we certainly don’t like them and ultimately they restrict the places where our smokers can enjoy a fine cigar, it has not hurt our business. Our business is actually up in places like Florida and California despite the bans. However, long term it’s a net negative.

CR: What inspiration went behind "The Brick?"

Toraño: We wanted to offer a boxed press cigar in a bundle. The inspiration for naming it "The Brick" is that when you look at this box pressed bundle, given the larger ring gauges, it reminds you of a brick. We have almost a cult following for this cigar. It’s a great outdoor smoke while you are working, playing golf or mowing the lawn.

CR: Are there any other new lines coming out soon?

Toraño: We have launched the Carlos Toraño Virtuoso. This cigar is made with our own family grown wrapper. We are growing this tobacco in a small village in Nicaragua called Pueblo Nuevo in the Condega valley. This sun grown wrapper is bold and rich in taste. We created our strongest bodied blend and it will hit the market in October. Carlos Torano Cigar Factory

I asked the members of Cigar Review Forum if they had any questions for you as well. 

Forum Members Questions:

CR: Do you have a favorite cigar? What Size and Shape of Cigar?

Toraño: The Double Corona Exodus 1959. I love the balance and flavor of the Exodus blend.

CR: What do you like to drink when smoking your cigars?

Toraño: During the work day, Cuban Coffee. At night, a nice Port.

CR: Sometimes when ordering cigars from internet based companies you get dry or poorly treated cigars. Is there any plan to sell your cigars directly from your website?

Toraño: We will not be selling cigars direct from our website. However, we are one of the few companies that include a humidipak in each of our premium cigar boxes to help control the humidity inside the box.

CR: Thank you so much for your time.

Toraño: The pleasure was all mine.Torano Cigars

Visit Toraño Cigars web site at http://www.toranocigars.com/

Patrick Lauer for Cigar Review

Related Story: Toraño Cigars Scores at Two Major International Events - Click Here




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