TTT Trinidad Corona

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The Trinidad family emigrated to Cuba from Seville, Spain in the late eighteenth century and by the early 1900's began making cigars. The business grew steadily until one day disaster struck: Diego Trinidad had purchased a larger than usual crop of tobacco, a significant investment, only to discover that half of it was infested with worms. It might have spelled the company's end, but they salvaged the crop by chopping the tobacco for cigarettes. To their surprise they doubled their profits by the end of the year, and accordingly they shifted their manufacturing operation to making cigarettes instead of cigars.

In 1958 the family registered the brand name "TTT Trinidad La Habana Cuba" with the Cuban trademark office. At that time the Trinidad family operated one of the largest cigarette and cigar firms in Cuba. The Castro government took the company over in 1960 and "nationalized" it in 1961. The Trinidad family migrated to the U.S., where they formed the Black Tobacco Company, manufacturing Cuban style cigarettes mainly for Cuban exiles. The brand name Trinidad y Hermano was registered for their cigars.

The first Trinidad cigars manufactured in the United States were made by the Arturo Fuente company in Tampa around 1968. Production seems to have stopped when the Fuente company moved to the Dominican Republic.

In 1994, the Cuban government sought to register the brand name "TTT Trinidad, La Habana Cuba" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This registration was granted in 1996. At the same time the Trinidad family revived their brand– using the exact same name– with Tabacalera Fuente once again producing the cigars, this time using a Cameroon wrapper. The Trinidad family requested that the Cuban tradmark be revoked, and in 2001 the USPTO ruled in Trinidad's favor. Shortly after this, the Trinidad company was taken over by Altadis USA, and the cigar I have before me is now a totally different creation from either the original or the subsequent Fuente blend.

So what's the big deal with this brand anyway? It sounds like a bunch of legal mess… Well, part of the big deal is that Fidel Castro originally created the Trinidad brand for his exclusive use as diplomatic gifts… A mystique arose around the brand as the "best of the best." Except for one minor problem. In an interview with Marvin Shanken, Fidel said he wasn't familiar with the brand. And when he was a smoking man, he said, he was partial to Cohibas. So communists have marketing strategies too, hmmm?

The current incarnation of the cigar bears an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Connecticut broadleaf binder, and filler from the DR, Nicaragua and Peru. And they slap this thing together down in the Dominican Republic somewhere.

I scored a tin of four of these in a package deal last fall, so I didn't pay retail — good thing. This is a decent smoke, but I wouldn't pay 8 bucks a pop for em. It fires up with a good dose of pepper, then mellows out a bit. There's a nice overlay of leather, and the smoke maintains a medium body which gathers strength toward the end. One of the four had a tight draw, but otherwise they burned well. I preferred the corona to the robusto — the corona was a little less aggressive, allowing for more complexity. The robusto is a real powerhouse, a real redneck knock-em-down bar fighter of a cigar. The corona is full flavored, but not as bullish. All in all the corona is a good cigar, but there are far better choices at this price point.

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