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I came across the following article of interest from Simon Chase, the great British 'Cigar Sage' who worked for Hunters and Frankau from 1977 until his retirement in 2009. As I've stated before, I always find what he has to say of interest, due to his passion and experience for Habanos cigars. His latest article for Cigar Journal discusses the beginning of Trinidad as a cigar for diplomats up to the latest 2016 Limited Edition release, the Topes.

Trinidad-E_L_-04.jpg.1715dddc53cd8d2c18ff1a3beedc6816.jpg

                                                             Photo: Courtesy of Cigar Journal

Trinidad Rises to New Heights

The other day I was strolling through Hunters & Frankau’s warehouse when a box of cigars caught my eye. It was lying on the inspection desk following examination by Peter Thompson, who is responsible for checking the contents of every box before the EMS (English Market Selection) stamp is applied to it.

It was a squat SBN (Semi Boîte Nature) box finished with clear varnish, so it had to be Trinidad. But there was something about its shape that was unfamiliar. Peter explained that it was a new limited edition cigar. I asked him to open it so I could have a look. Up went the lid, out came the papaletas (leaflets) and there was the top row of six Trinidad Topes Edición Limitada 2016. Suited in perfectly matched, gleaming maduro wrappers, they were a joy to behold. Their stocky 125 mm | 4 7⁄8 x 56 ring gauge shapes resembled precision-engineered cylinders.

Regular readers of this column will know that I am not a fan of the trend towards heavy ring gauge cigars. In fact, when I first heard the dimensions of the Topes, I dismissed it as one of those cigars that I would allow to pass me by. However, there is a funny thing that I have experienced from time to time. It happened with the Cohiba Sublimes Limited Edition back in 2004. On paper, the dimensions (164mm | 61⁄2 x 54 ring gauge) suggested that it would be an ugly monster, but, when I saw the finished cigar, the relationship between its length and girth made it attractive. It was the same with the Topes.

Thinking back, it’s remarkable how different Trinidad was at the beginning. It started life in secret 48 years ago at Cohiba’s El Laguito factory where it was made exclusively for the Cuban Council of State (not for Fidel Castro, as some say). It came in just one, long, thin size, a Laguito No. 1 (192 mm | 71⁄2 x 38 ring gauge) like the Cohiba Lancero, and had a rich, deep, earthy flavour similar to Partagás.

In 1992, a visiting journalist revealed its existence and soon, Trinidad Diplomats, as they became known, started to be sold at auction. I remember in 1997, when a box of 25 sold in Geneva for nearly USD 15,000. Encouraged by such a phenomenal result, Habanos S.A. decided to adopt Trinidad as one of the new brands it launched at the end of the 20th century. A team was assembled at El Laguito under Emilia Tamayo, the then director, to review the size and to create a new blend – the old one was deemed too strong. Its key member was Raúl Valladares, known as the “Maestro de Maestros” (master of masters) amongst Tabacuba’s master blenders. A unique relationship was born between Raúl and Habanos S.A.’s marketing director at the time, Ana Lopez. Ana wanted a medium- strength cigar full of fragrance and aroma.

The result was astounding, as I found out, when, in November 1997, I was roped into the final tasting committee at El Laguito for the new Fundadores size, which had two ring gauge points added to its girth. Raúl had done it. Gone was the strident taste of the Diplomats, and in its place a delightful, approachable, medium-bodied and, above all, fragrant flavour. Although Trinidad is prized amongst the cognoscenti, for some reason, it has struggled to appeal to a wider audience. I think I know why. Every time I present Trinidad at an event, it takes a matter of seconds before someone says: “Oh, we’re not smoking Cuban tonight, then?” Many still think it must come from the island of Trinidad. What’s in a name, you might say, but would a Scotch whisky producer call one of its brands Honshu or Hokkaido?

The names given to Trinidad’s newest arrivals are a bit tricky, too. Vigia, for example, another excellent stocky shape (110 mm | 43⁄8 x 54 ring gauge), means a “lookout” and refers to the tower on a sugar plantation near Trinidad city that once served such a purpose. Likewise, how many people know where Topes comes from? Again, I can help. Nestling in the Escambray mountains behind Trinidad at 900 meters above sea level, there is a small settlement called Topes de Collantes. Today it is at the center of a nature reserve populated by eucalyptus and pine trees under which a rich variety of flora prospers amongst stunning streams, waterfalls and deep pools. Topes de Collantes means something like “tops of the hills”. Perhaps it is a sign that Trinidad is rising to new heights.

Source: https://www.cigarjournal.com/trinidad-cigars/

 

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I had a Topes this past March in Havana. It was a bit on the wet side but overall it was underwhelming. Haven't had the chance to try a Vigia yet. In my mind, there's no replacing the Robusto T or Robusto Extra. I still enjoy the Reyes, Coloniales and Fundadores a great deal so these do not really catch my eye.  

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Huge Trinidad fan here as those that follow the auctions may know. Robo T and Robo X highlights for me, beyond the commercial OR Fundies - smoked through dozens of the NISU cabs fairly fresh turn of the century, still enjoying more recent ones.

Picked up a box of the Topes in Havana last year, smoked one fresh in GC on the transit home. Bit wet but tasty. Held off a while and the next was quite good. Third, fantastic.

Vigias have also been doing me well of late. Been grabbing the occasional box when price is right.

While not a fan of the girthier vitolas the tastes and aromas from these are worth the sacrifice to me. Reyes and Coloniales are always good in a pinch as well.

 

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Smoke one at the beginning of the year, so fresh. IMO it was fantastic even tho I dont smoke a fresh cigars not matter if is limted, regional exc.... just bought two more boxes cus they will get better and seems ppl like em a lot and wanted to catch bf there gone

 

 

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Thanks for putting this up @John I also didn't know of the origin of the name Vigia. Very interesting!

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Thank you for sharing the article John! HUGE fan of Trini's myself. Robusto T's, Extra's and the Vigia I have been stocking up on. The Vigia is a great young cigar I might add and cannot wait what a few years will bring. I first purchased them last year on my first trip to the grand island.

That La Trova Double Robusto looks VERY interesting!

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On 9/19/2017 at 7:51 AM, bundwallah said:

I had a Topes this past March in Havana. It was a bit on the wet side but overall it was underwhelming. Haven't had the chance to try a Vigia yet. In my mind, there's no replacing the Robusto T or Robusto Extra. I still enjoy the Reyes, Coloniales and Fundadores a great deal so these do not really catch my eye.  

So much agree here and why both of the T's and Extra's were ever discontinued. :(  Two of my all time favorites. I am thinking though the Vigia's with some aging are gonna be special as well as they're pretty darn good young thus far.

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