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The Tobacco Files 29 - Toscano Maestro Series from Cornell & Diehl

The Tobacco Files 29 - Toscano Maestro Series from Cornell & Diehl

Posted by Greg Rosenberg on 9th Apr 2024

Since taking the monthly Tobacco File out of hiatus at the start of 2024, I've been considering ways I might break with the structure of the column. One thing that I always have fun with is featuring pipe tobacco's with some sort of relevant thread that ties them together—whether it's blends of a similar style or some other association. 

So, I've decided this Tobacco File would feature the recently released Toscano Maestro series. Blended by Cornell & Diehl, the collaboration with the historic cigar manufacturer brings us three hearty mixtures—Allegro, Concerto, and Sinfonia—which celebrate the Fire-cured Kentucky leaf in rich profiles that uniquely explore dark cigar flavor in the pipe tobacco format.


Toscano Maestro Allegro pipe tobacco

Integrating the richness of America's finest Dark Fired Kentucky Tobacco with the sweetness of Red Virginia and a woodsy whisper of Latakia, Allegro offers an aromatic intensity perfectly balancing roasted and spicy notes alongside delicious aromas of vanilla, caramel, and maple. 


Allegro is a ribbon cut, lighter and more varied in color than the other ribbon in this trio. The leaf is thin and dry yet with a hydrated springiness—familiar Cornell & Diehl ribbon.

Toscano Maestro Allegro cut

Similar to Sinfonia, it has that crispness of a campfire, but Sinfonia has a fermented side where Allegro is a little more simple.

Lighting up

In a blind tasting, I imagine Allegro's appearance and tin note would have given me the impression of a traditional English mixture. It's evident from the smoking experience that this is not the case. It's like a reimagining, where the herbal and spice of Oriental leaf is swapped with the bold mesquite of Dark Fired Kentucky. 

From the char, a hickory smokiness and vegetative flavor front loads the palate. As things settle, a woody, lightly sweet, and bready body provides foundation and contrast. I imagine the Red Virginias account for much of this, with the added flavorings underscoring the sweetness. 

There's a spice that brings a physical sensation both in the sinus and palate.

If it weren't for the flavors mentioned in the description, I'm not sure I'd pick out much of a top flavoring. Beyond that sweet note, I imagine they play a role in melding the "sides" of the profile; the potent smoky condiments with the bready, zesty Reds. Maple and caramel seem to be natural accents to these flavors and vanilla in light amounts can seem to have that melding affect in my experience.

During several smokes, I make note of an Oriental character (not a component of Allegro). It's a herbal spice and that vegetative note, maybe the nuanced undertones of the Latakia and/or Kentucky. 

Maestro Allegro in Rossi Piccolo 313
Maestro Allegro in Rossi Piccolo 313

In a smaller bowl, I tend to get more of a dry smokiness, more of the floral Kentucky with the earthy, woody notes on show. At least this was my experience first noticed smoked in my petite Rossi Prince and I've certainly noticed since. 

Allegro has the sort of strength that really rises, but it's actually the light weight of this trio if you ask me. Though, it wouldn't be in most other company.


Toscano Maestro Concerto pipe tobacco

A selected blend of Perique, Latakia, and Dark Fired tobaccos from Kentucky and Tennessee, Concerto is firm in character and bold in flavour, highlighting the characteristic woody and peppery notes of Dark Fired tobaccos with a full-bodied profile the delivers strong, enticing flavours and nuanced aromatic complexity. 


Concerto gives us another ribbon cut, but this time the shades are dark and darker. The ribbon cut is thin and coarse with medium strands and smaller bits, dry to the touch but hydrated, much like Allegro.

Toscano Maestro Concerto cut

The tin note is woody and smoky but less of the meatiness, more mineral and leathery, maybe a hint of dark chocolate, but that could just be where my mind is eager to go with the hue. As the tin airs, there're more complexities—a petrichor woodiness and fermented note.

Lighting up

I appreciate all of these mixtures for their unique profiles, but Concerto has especially made an impression. Maybe that’s my appreciation for Perique, which it delivers with a hint of plum and much umami body. That chewiness and spice in harmony with Kentucky’s dark wood and floralness is a dynamic, powerful presence.

Maestro Concerto in Missouri Meerschaum Emerald Bent
Maestro Concerto in Missouri Meerschaum Emerald Bent

Concerto touts full flavor and body—that sort of strength you get in the back of the throat. The flavor is complex—brighter mineral and grassy notes alight on the sensitive areas of the palate, while the body translates that petrichor woodiness and dark chocolate from the tin note. The bold Concerto is balanced by a light sweetness.

Maestro Concerto in New Honeybrook
Maestro Concerto in New Honeybrook

I initially developed a preference for smaller bowls for Concerto, but I gravitated to wider chambers, which I think display the complexity very nicely. 

The preference for smaller bowls, such as my Honeybrook Estate pipe pictured above, had to do with the length of time smoking—the flavors are assertive, it's one of those that coats the palate and the nuance and dynamic may get lost in the fatigue after too long. I figured a wide and shallow chamber may satisfy both preferences. My Genod Pot and Rattray's Butcher Boy suited the purpose, and offered wonderful smokes. Apparently, these sort of chambers aren't my preference, as they're quite underrepresented in my collection, but these smokes have me wanting to address that. 


Toscano Maestro Sinfonia pipe tobacco

Harmonising the unique qualities of Dark Fired tobaccos with the sweetness of Red Virginias and the smoky foundational tones o Latakia, Sinfonia divulges a complex intensity characterised by roasted notes and balanced by subtle, spicy nuance.


For Sinfonia, we leave the ribbon in favor of a broken flake. The shade is well to the dark side but has a mix of medium browns there.  

Toscano Maestro Sinfonia cut

The tin note offers a bold meaty, campfire smokiness—earthy and savory. There's a crispness to the smoky aroma, but as mentioned earlier, Sinfonia has a bit of a fermentation to it, perhaps offered by the Red Virginias.

Lighting up

Sinfonia delivers tang and BBQ, pronounced from the char light. It's smoky and savory with a subtle sweetness. The Latakia is meaty. I get grassy bright accents, not sharp, but defined against the dark wood base.

Maestro Sinfonia in Lorenzetti Avitus 95
Maestro Sinfonia in Lorenzetti Avitus 95

The smoky, hickory-forward flavor seems to settle into this dark rye bread and wood, certainly a smoky accent. Behind it all is a rounded sweetness and a light buttery-ness to the base, which offers that balance that is the difference between robust for the sake of robust and something that is dynamic and interesting. 

Maybe a more succinct way of putting it, there’s having strength and there’s using it—Sinfonia uses it. The brawn is a vehicle that really delivers the rich flavors of Sinfonia. I especially get the most out of this blend when folding in, which accentuates the lush, savory experience. 

Maestro Sinfonia in Brigham Mountaineer 384
Maestro Sinfonia in Brigham Mountaineer 384

Interestingly, I note a vegetative undertone nearing the end, which I feel is in the realm of flavors I don’t expect to develop late in a smoke, and if anything, may be eclipsed by more dominant, dark flavors some time into a smoke.

Though bold, Sinfonia keeps a wonderfully consistency, not necessarily in the flavors themselves which do journey through the smoke, but in that it is complex and interesting from char to heel and doesn't fatigue so eagerly. Concerto was initially most appealing, but at this point, I can't say I hold on over the other.

Clay comparison

I decided to smoke all three of these side by side in clay pipes, taking a few minutes for each and repeating. Of course, this was only informative so long as my palate wasn’t dulled, and that very well may have been sooner than I choose to acknowledge, but nonetheless, I feel the comparison made some of the distinguishing traits all the more clear. Here are my notes for each while smoking:

Toscano Maestro series in clay pipes


  • A little more bready toasty sweetness at the start than i recall from past smokes.
  • The Reds seem more to the bready side than Sinfonia, but that may be the caramel topping bringing out more of the toasty graham cracker-like sweetness. I notice more of the topping, which wasn’t all that apparent to me before, and a little less campfire smokiness, though it's there.
  • Definitely settles into something darker and woodsier, earth and pepper coming in.


  • Has a darker smokiness and I feel more heavy set of a body. It's very flavorful but it actually takes a second for that to set in, it's more sensory to start, then taste comes through as I acclimate. It really starts to sit in the sinus and back palate.
  • The Perique pepper and umami are coming through now with the Kentucky floral that's slightly smoky
  • I'm starting to get this minty sensation I sometimes get from Perique, not minty taste but a sort of cooling on the palate.


  • The Red Virginia tang and fig is more noticeable when contrasted. Complemented nicely with pepper in the nose and a hickory smokiness.
  • More earthiness now, but that sweet Virginia is still showing. The flake offers a lush smoke; one of those that just feels satisfying to smoke, especially when drawn slowly. A very enticing currant and dark woodiness bridges the spice of the sinus and the mid palate.
  • There's a dark fruit, somewhat orange rind note I enjoy.

Until next time...

I'm in no way suggesting we take on more terms to categorize pipe tobaccos into blend families, but one thought repeatedly came to mind through my month smoking the Maestro series—

Just as the English family encompasses a broad variety of blends who overlap in their relative focus on Latakia, there could just as well be such a genre for Kentucky blends, and the Maestro series seem like quintessential blends within that parallel universe's Kentucky genre. Just as My Mixture 965, Early Morning Pipe, and Nightcap are discrete but archetypal conveyances of the English blend tradition, Allegro, Concerto, and Sinfonia are distinct but share their own overlap that ties them together. They were a pleasure to explore and if the mission was to highlight the Dark Fired leaf in all its dynamic allure, I say mission accomplished. 

As always; feedback, advice, requests, corrections, friendly hellos? Please send 'em my way—