Of the many legacy Cuban brands now controlled by parent company, Altadis USA—including Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and H. Upmann—it has been Trinidad that has waited the longest to receive a modernized makeover. The brand traces its roots back to the late ’60s (thought to be 1969), where Trinidad cigars were first rolled alongside Cohiba cigars at the famed El Laguito factory in Havana. And while there is some debate as to whether Trinidad or Cohiba was originally intended to showcase the superior experience, both brands share the unique designation of having been rolled for Castro (and as diplomatic gifts) exclusively for decades.
Following a proven strategy of porting brand after brand over to Nicaragua, Altadis USA has now set its sights on the Trinidad marca—outfitting the cigars in a colorful presentation and recruiting the ordained talents of A.J. Fernández to handle production.
Trinidad Espiritu Fundador Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited (event exclusive)
- Vitola: 7½″ × 40 (Lancero)
- Price: $9.90 (MSRP)
Trinidad Espiritu has been inspired from Caribbean culture of the late ’60s to early ’70s (aka the “Golden Years” of cigars). The cigars were introduced shortly before the 2019 IPCPR trade show, featuring a national tour of Trinidad-focused shop events across the country. These events are likewise inspired by vintage Latin Caribbean culture, including “décor, music, vintage uniformed bartenders, cocktails and more.” Trinidad has even gone so far as to create a custom Spotify playlist, intended for hobbyists to bring the vibe home with them and smoke the cigars while listening to the ideal music accompaniment.
A.J. Fernández has blended Trinidad Espiritu using a nondescript Nicaraguan puro blend at his renowned factory in Estelí. The cigars arrive in five sizes, with the 7½” x 40 “Fundador” lancero being the most exclusive:
- Robusto: 5″ x 50 | $8.91
- Toro: 6″ x 54 | $9.14
- Belicoso: 6⅛” x 52 | $9.36
- Magnum: 6″ x 60 | $9.59
- Fundador: 7½” x 40 | $9.90
Despite showcasing statistical all-star cigars throughout Altadis USA’s trade show booth at IPCPR 2019, it was the Trinidad Espiritu that had members of Cigar Dojo most excited. From the colorful packaging, to the nostalgic concept, to the surrounding activities, Espiritu seems to have its act together. Unlike many brands from Altadis—where it often seems like they simply spin a wheel of potential design elements from the brand’s past and slap them on the same overly glossy/metallic band paper—Espiritu has the feel of something that care was clearly given to. The bands boast thick wine-stock paper, displaying vibrant colors against luxurious gold foil highlights; it’s easily one of the most impressive bands thus far in 2019 (and one of the best core-line displays I’ve ever seen from Altadis).
Espiritu is cloaked in a dark and somewhat oily wrapper—somewhere between Colorado and Colorado maduro in shade. There are loads of medium-thick veins running across the cigar’s seven and a half inches. The wrapper has a velvety feel to it, with the seams being visible, yet well-placed. The lancero feels well-constructed overall, showing no soft spots and about a medium bunch density.
On the nose, the wrapper gives off notes of barnyard musk, tang, and cedar. The foot brings added aromas of manure, raw tobacco, and added barnyard. A straight cut shows a slightly firm draw, with pre-light notes of caramel, earth, and barnyard.
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The first puff of Espiritu reveals a distinct raw peppercorn flavor on the tongue (as if you were chewing black peppercorns before they’d been cracked). As the pre-light draw indicated, the smoking draw is slightly firm; but with an above-average smoke output, it’s certainly nothing to be concerned about. The cigar’s thin ring gauge seems to be contributing to a sharper spice than its thicker siblings, which tend to veer more towards leather characteristics. In the cigar’s early portions, most draws begin with effervescent spices, slowly mellowing to show subtleties of coffee beans, milk chocolate, a touch of leather, and fresh pine through the finish. The coffee and chocolate flavors can sometimes combine to act like mocha candy (like the crushed coffee beans you’ll sometimes find in trail-mix chocolates).
But the cigar’s sense of sophistication and finesse is called into question as the burn approaches the midsection, transitioning away from former semblances of sweetness and replaced by stark mineral and raw vegetal components. In this transitioning phase, it’s not entirely clear which direction the remainder of the experience is headed, as flashes of sweet Cuban pastries are inserted between heavier tones of earth, char, and blackened spice. At roughly the halfway point, Trinidad Espiritu clocks in around medium-plus in flavor and body, backed by a medium strength output.
Unfortunately—and unsurprisingly, to be honest—it’s the dark and charry characteristics that win out. The Espiritu’s remainder is dominated by anise, dark spices, burnt toast, raw bell peppers, and tar. The strength moves up to medium-plus in this territory, as the flavors decrease in an equal, opposite reaction.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
If I happen to find myself at one of the advertised Espiritu events across the country—sure, when in Rome… Otherwise, stick to the core-line sizes (Robusto, Toro, and Belicoso are my recommendations).
- The Fundadores size is also found in the Cuban line of Trinidad cigars, being one of the brand’s most sought-after. The Cuban version is also 7½” × 40, although it features a pigtail cap (which this cigar does not).
- Trinidad Espiritu Fundador is sold only at Trinidad events across the country, while the remaining four sizes can be purchased online, at brick and mortor locations, etc.
- The cigars have ‘Series No. 1’ printed on their sub-bands. This signifies the cigars as being part of an intended three-part series from Altadis.
- Espiritu translates to mean spirit.
- Flavor: Medium
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Milk chocolate
- Crushed coffee beans
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Sidecar cocktail | Revolver cocktail | Old fashioned cocktail | Sarsaparilla
- Purchase Recommendation: If you find yourself at an Espiritu event, try one
Let's not beat around the bush, folks, Trinidad Espiritu Fundador is fun to look at, but this ain't the one to take home to your mother. Oftentimes, there's a reason that the regular-production sizes made it through the various stages of product testing, eventually becoming the core-line cigars Trinidad intends to offer on a regular basis. This may be one such case, as the Espiritu Fundador is fun to look at, fun to hold, but doesn't seem to hold up for the full hour-thirty. The first third showcases this lancero's best, while the remainder simply dwindles away—eventually resembling a mere skeleton of the profile's former self. All that said, the cigar is, in fact, fun; combined with its fair price point, I can't find myself going too hard on it.
Stick with the other sizes (I'll recommend Robusto, Toro, and Belicoso) and you'll be in for the nostalgic experienced as advertised.
- First third is refined and shows plenty of depth
- Above average smoke output
- Great presentation
- Slightly firm draw
- Degressive profile
- Harsh finale