First off, official photos of this cigar have been pretty misleading. Check out this shot from Cigar Aficionado...that's a way, way lighter, smother and less oily wrapper than our samples had. The reality is that the Topes sports an almost intimidatingly dark and oily leaf, with a few veins and bumps. These aren't quite the little bundles of cylindrical perfection they've been made out to be. A few small glue stains marred the wrapper on our samples as well, which is no bog deal except this is a pretty expensive smoke.
That said, the Topes is a cigar with character. It's big and dark and beefy and big and hefty and big and...well, big. Fat. We're no fans of big ring gauge cigars, and at 4 7/8 inches by a whopping 56 ring gauge, the Topes is pushing our bounds. We put aside those personal preferences for rating purposes but if you're like us, you may want to exercise those jaw muscles prior to smoking one of these. Perhaps try eating an oversized hero sandwich or sleeping the night before with a racquetball in your mouth. Whatever works.
The pepper subsided, but the first moments were dominated by wood. Leather slowly crept in, but not the intense leather you find in a Fuente Opus X. Then there was some sweetness in the form of powdered cocoa or baking chocolate. All in all, it was a nice balance but hardly complex. The flavors and aromas were too dense and young and that is why we feel age will open this cigar up. How much? We're thinking at least three years before we'll pick one up again—especially at this price point. And it could be as much as 10 years before they really peak. Be wary if you insist on smoking one now because these pack a pretty strong punch.
In sum, this is a very good cigar at the present moment but we feel its potential is such that we're rating it excellent. This is one of the darkest, boldest, chunkiest cigars we've ever seen come of of Cuba. Is it a reaction to global market trends, or simply a unique expression of the Trinidad brand? That remains to be seen. We'd hate to see all Cuban cigars go down this road, since we appreciate more subtlety. Then again, when this cigar hits its stride it's probably going to be well worth the wait. Buy now, and be patient.
4 7/8 x 56
Dark, chunky and bold. Gives a rich balance of wood, leather and dusky cocoa sweetness. Very good now but needs significant aging to open up and smoke at full potential.