Well, leave it to the company that brought you Royal Jamaica Gold to let one of the best smokes they've yet created languish and die. That's right, the cigar you're about to read about is already discontinued. Meanwhile, the acrid log known as Las Cabrillas lives on, along with Omar Ortiz Originals, Casa de Garcia and a handful of other middling brands. Sigh.
Trinidad Habana Reserve was an attempt to bring the Trinidad brand down to the mid-price level, around $6 each or so. It was so successful that, in our view, it easily eclipsed the original Trinidad brand that sold for around $10 each. Made at the Flor de Copan factory in Honduras, the recipe is immediately appealing. It consists of an alluringly dark, oily Ecuadorian wrapper over a rich blend of fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras, bound with a stout leaf from Nicaragua.
Even better, the range of sizes seems hand-selected for the connoisseur. Coronas? Check! And not just one, but two: both 44 ring gauges, one five inches in length and a shorter one at just over four inches. Lancero? Check! It's the traditional 7.5 inches long, but rather than a 38 ring gauge, this one is a slightly stouter 40 which probably suits the blend better. There's also a beautifully made belicoso, a thick toro, a duo of fat short robustos and a churchill. That churchill, at 7 inches by 54, was the only vitola that we had any issues with. Like other Altadis cigars in that size, we noticed a slightly tight draw. It's perplexing considering how exemplary the construction of their torpedos and belicosos are, especially since those are much more difficult to roll. Or perhaps it's just too damn thick for its length. Either way, it's not our cup of tea.
The overall characteristics were a balance of ever-so-slightly sweet earth, spice and nuts. True, that doesn't sound exceptional, but it's the way this cigar smokes that makes all the difference. The smoke is rich yet silky, and very mouth filling. It coats the palate like a cafe au lait. Altadis calls this a full-bodied cigar, but it is far richer than it is strong. This would be as good a decadent midday cigar as it is after dinner.
The thicker sizes tend to be more laid back, with a slightly creamy, even buttery thing going. The thinner the vitola, the more intense the flavor. The lanceros and coronas tend to have a more concentrated earthiness, while the more complex spiciness in the larger sizes is distilled down to a more straightforward black pepper.
With the exception of the unnecessarily thick churchill, the burn and draw on these was very good. Precious few touchups were required, and the grayish ash held firm for longer than average without any untoward flakiness. You don't have to be afraid to wear dark colors when you're smoking one of these.
Unfortunately, most retailers are out of stock on these. We were lucky to hoard a bunch before our local tobacconist ran out. As of May 2014, Mike's Cigars had a few left in stock, as did Famous Smoke Shop. Are these worth seeking out? We think so—especially if you happen to see them at closeout prices. We're sad to see them go.
F: Nicaragua, Honduras
A smooth, rich and pleasant smoke full of semisweet earth, nuts and spices. Mouth-filling smoke. Bold yet without excess strength. Nice anytime.