Welcome to Kenfessions, my occasional and irregular blog, looking at the world of cigars and drinks, and hopefully matching the two. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. No doubt, it will veer off on all manner of tangents, but we will try and stick to the subject (when it suits).

- Ken Gargett

Trinidad ‘La Trova’/Yamazaki 12-Year-Old

Trinidad ‘La Trova’/Yamazaki 12-Year-Old

May I start this week by asking whether anyone knows, definitively, whether these Trini ‘La Trova’ are one-offs or if they are going to be regular production. I ask as I have heard both and no one seems to know for sure. As so often seems to happen with Cuba and Cuban cigars, confusion reigns. We do know that they were intended as a 2017 release, though it seems that few saw any before this year.

They were originally part of the “La Casa del Habano” program, and so were originally limited to specific designated retailers – eight different, highly regarded retailers around the Asia-Pacific, I think. And then this was expanded to some 145 stores around the globe. They were popular, no doubt (Rob and I did a vid which showed how much we enjoyed them, even in these early days), but is it a case of once gone, never coming back, or will the patient be rewarded?

Tech info – 52mm ring gauge and a length of 166mm. Handmade, of course, they are described as ‘Totalmente a Mano con Tripa Larga’ (totally handmade with long filler). The tobacco comes from the famous Vuelta Abajo region in Pinar del Río, so some of the finest tobacco on the planet. These are cigars which ideally fit the current demand for large format and especially large ring gauges. They are known as double robusto (Cañonazo Especial, previously only used for the famous 2011 Limited Edition, Cohiba 1966) and are rolled at the Francisco Donatién Factory in Pinar del Río. They come in boxes of 12.

I know that the wonderful Fundadores are considered as the benchmark for Trinidad, but if these were regprod (my new word for regular production, because in this day and age, everything must be shortened), they’d give the Fundadores a run for their money. Interesting how Trinidad has gone overboard on the fatties – Vigía (54 ring gauge), Topes Edición Limitada 2016 (56 ring gauge) and the La Trova – and yet their superstar remains the slim and elegant Fundadores. Just saying…

This is an exceptional smoke. Kicks off with alluring heady perfumes. Beautifully constructed. Like most Trini’s, the wrapper is a lighter shade – Colorado Claro – eschewing the dark, chocolatey Maduro wrappers which are so popular. The draw on all I have sampled has been exemplary. A Goldilocks draw, if you like – not too loose, not too tight: just right.

Flavours? From the first puff, a cigar that oozed class. A rich, dense, velvety smoke with plenty of complexity, even in these early days. The body for me was well under medium and remained there. Even towards the finish, it avoided any hotness or lack of balance. Balance is the absolute high point of this cigar. Everything is perfectly in balance. A cigar that should age superbly for a long period. Flavours included a hint of white chocolate, earth and spices and even a touch of a creamy coffee. Expect it to develop and become even more complex over the forthcoming years. What was truly amazing about this stick was that after finishing it, and a good one will take the best part of a couple of hours, I wished I’d had another on hand. I reckon I’d have fired it up immediately. For a score, 96.

Now, I will confess that mine had seen better days. I’d tossed it in the luggage with a few others for the recent Helsinki/Spain/Portugal journey but had not got to it, so it bounced around in criminal mistreatment. Then I took it on the Fraser Island fishing trip but again, others took priority – I think I was waiting for the perfect moment. So when I got to it back at home, it really did look like the beaten red-haired stepchild. Ratty and a touch ragged (and yet, the notes above show just how brilliantly it smoked, completely belying any suggestion that such treatment would adversely affect it). Despite that, I was keen to match it with something decent.

Yamazaki 12-Year-Old. A cracker from Japan. Honeysuckle, hint of treacle, crème brulee, cinnamon, peaches, stonefruit. Balanced, lovely dense mouthfeel, great texture. A little spirity perhaps, but this was fire and honey.

In retrospect, I’d have opted for a more powerful cigar to go with the whisky, but they still worked quite well. The power of the whisky was just a bit much for the La Trova, and I think it would suit a much more subtle drink. But I loved them both so hard to go too far wrong.

I’m just worried that, with the drastic shortages with Japanese whisky, we might have seen the last of it, as well as of the cigar.

A tragedy of immense proportions if so.


Montecristo No 2/Cubaney 21-Year-Old

Montecristo No 2/Cubaney 21-Year-Old

Louis Roederer Cristal 2008/Partagas D4 (Vintage Collection – 2004)

Louis Roederer Cristal 2008/Partagas D4 (Vintage Collection – 2004)