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Cigar 101

What is the Difference Between a Toro and Robusto Cigar?

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Cigars are handmade in a wider variety of shapes today than ever before. Premium cigar-makers love to innovate with new and original sizes, but the classic shapes still reign supreme. Among the most popular traditional cigar shapes are the Robusto and the Toro. The biggest difference between a Robusto and a Toro is about an inch. A Toro is roughly an inch longer than a Robusto. A Toro is also a touch thicker than a Robusto. Not all cigar-makers follow the same conventions when deciding to label a cigar as a Robusto versus a Toro. And due the exponential popularity of ultra-thick ring gauges, a fair amount of gray area exists. Let’s illuminate the specific differences between a classic Robusto and a Toro and whether different shapes affect a cigar’s taste.

When the critics in Cigar Aficionado review cigars, they regularly publish divergent ratings for cigars of different sizes, even though they’re blended from identical tobaccos. Shape impacts a cigar’s intensity and burn more so than its specific tasting notes, but it can influence whether we ultimately love or dislike a given blend. Robustos and Toros are excellent barometers for any blend of premium tobaccos.

How Big is a Robusto?

The classic Robusto cigar is between 4.75 and 5.5 inches long with a ring gauge between 48 and 52. Robustos have been around for decades, but the term, Robusto, wasn’t widely employed until the late 1980s according to Cuban cigar expert Simon Chase. The popular Cuban Partagas Serie D No. 4, which is 4.875 inches with a 50 ring gauge, has been in production since the 1930s. It’s hard to imagine longer and thinner cigars have been the norm for most of the last century with the popularity of short fat shapes today. Robustos have been popular in the US market since the 1970s, but demand for them has risen tremendously over the past 30 years – much of it in parallel with the Cigar Boom of the 1990s. 

Popular Robusto Cigars

Traditional Robustos like the Ashton Magnum, La Aroma de Cuba Robusto, Macanudo Cafe Hyde Park, Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto, and Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo are among the bestselling cigars in the world. Cigar Aficionado began publishing its annual ‘Top 25 Cigars of the Year’ in 2004. Robustos have been awarded the ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ title on multiple occasions. They include the Cuban Bolivar Royal Corona (2006), Casa Magna Colorado Robusto (2008), the Cuban Cohiba Behike BHK 52 (2010), and the E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic (2018).  

Why a Robusto is the Perfect Smoke

For some, a Robusto takes 30 to 40 minutes to smoke. Other aficionados can smoke one for an hour or longer. A Robusto is the perfect impromptu cigar without downsizing to a Petit Corona. Many cigar lovers, especially newbies, are attracted to Robustos because they’re not too long or intimidating. The Robusto is a very comfortable size to hold in your hand and in your mouth.

Ironically, the first half of a Robusto is stronger than the first half of a longer shape like a Churchill or Double Corona because the heat is closer to your mouth when you light up a Robusto. Today, you will find numerous Robustos in big ring gauges, which offer a cooler draw. The popular Perdomo portfolio includes several Robusto cigars rolled in ring gauges as fat as 54 and 56. Shrewd cigar-makers simply capitalize on consumers’ familiarity with the Robusto label, and they will call cigars Robustos even though their dimensions are technically larger. Regardless of the actual size, few cigar-makers introduce new blends without including a “Robusto” in the lineup.

How Big is a Toro?

A traditional Toro is 6 to 6.5 inches long with a 52 to 54 ring gauge. The Toro is close to a Robusto in size, but is technically a touch longer and thicker. A Toro will burn from 45 minutes to over an hour. Toros rank behind Robustos in popularity, but not by much. Cigar smokers love Toros because they’re not too big and they’re not too small. A Toro is the equivalent of a Grande at Starbucks.  

Many Top-Rated Cigars Are Toros

Toro is Spanish for bull. Like Robustos, Toros perform well with critics. Flor de las Antillas Toro is a 96-rated former ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ titleholder handmade in Estelí, Nicaragua from an all-Nicaraguan blend of premium binder and filler tobaccos and a luscious Sun Grown wrapper leaf. Celebrated cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia debuted Flor de las Antillas in his My Father portfolio of cigars in 2012.

Padron’s prestigious Family Reserve No. 45 in a Maduro wrapper also scored Cigar Aficionado’s coveted ‘Cigar of the Year’ title in 2009 with a 95-point rating. Other bestselling Nicaraguan Toros worth trying include the 93-rated La Aroma de Cuba Monarch, the 95-rated La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Magnifico, 93-rated San Cristobal Supremo, and the annual limited edition San Cristobal Ovation Decadence.

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