Posted July 9, 2001, 4 p.m. e.s.t.
Of all the brands the Cubans have released over the years, Trinidad remains the highest in quality, and the most underrated. Despite being a long and relatively thin cigar, it packs loads of coffee, tobacco and earthy flavors and burns slowly and surely. I have never smoked a bad one. Maybe I am lucky but I can't get enough of the rich, focused flavors of the Trinidad, which is why when I want to treat myself, I grab a Trinidad from my humidor.
The brand was commercially launched in early 1998. It was, and still is, only one size: 40 ring gauge by 7 1/2 inches long. The cigars were first sold in Havana and then a month or two after, they were available in Canada and Mexico. The Cubans unofficially admitted that the cigar was a brand aimed for the American market, even though we all know that Cuban cigars cannot be legally sold in the United States. This is why it was introduced in the countries that border the States.
Trinidad was made before the 1998 launch. The original smoke was the same length but slightly thinner, 38 ring gauge. According to Avelino Lara, the former manager of El Laguito, the only factory where Trinidads are made, it contained the same blend as Cohiba's Lancero but used a slightly darker wrapper. "This gave it a slightly richer, more powerful character than the Lancero," Lara said last year. Lara now oversees the production of cigars for The Graycliff Hotel in Nassau, the Bahamas, which, by the way, are excellent smokes if you haven't had one.
Before it became commercially available, Trinidad used to come in a simple, unmarked cedar box of 100 cigars, and the factory produced about 20 boxes a month. "In order to have something special and unique for Fidel Castro, we produced this special brand," Lara told me when he was director of El Laguito. "Other Cuban diplomats and governmental officials give away Cohiba as gifts, but nobody can give Trinidad away except for Fidel Castro."
Of course, today is a different story. The "Diplomatic Trinidad" is no longer produced, and cigar gifts from Castro and the government are now mostly Cohibas. But there could be some interesting news about Trinidad next year.
Last February, when I was in Havana, I made a short tour with a number of cigar aficionados -- including regulars from our online Cuban cigar forum -- and we spent about 30 minutes with Emilia Tamayo, the manager of the El Laguito factory. Most of you already know that El Laguito is the "mother factory" for Cohiba, meaning its technicians supposedly monitor the production of Cohiba cigars outside of El Laguito. Sizes such as Robustos, Esplendidos and Siglo Series are made in a number of other factories, primarily Partagas and La Corona. Tamayo's dream is to one day have all the production of Cohiba under her roof at El Laguito, but that's another column.
During the tour, Tamayo confirmed that El Laguito plans to make some new sizes of Trinidads although she refused to divulge more. "You will have to wait and see for yourself, Suckling," she said. "You always want to know everything."
Nonetheless, I have an educated guess of what might be available. During the Havana Festival in February, a special humidor of Trinidads was sold at auction during the gala dinner to Mary Balli, the Habanos agent in Greece, and it contained the following 124 cigars:
33 Fundadores (40 ring gauge by 7 1/2 inches long), the current size
25 Robusto "A"s (50 ring gauge by 7 inches long)
33 Fransiscanos (42 ring gauge by 4 1/2 inches long)
33 El Laguito No. 1s (38 ring gauge by 7 inches)
I doubt we will see the reintroduction of the El Laguito No. 1, or the "Diplomatico" size Trinidad. But the other two, the Robusto "A" and petite corona, seem likely. Any of you out there heard otherwise?
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