Troya cigars were made in pre-revolutionary Cuba beginning in 1932 and are in fact still made today as a relatively obscure and hard to find machine made cigar. Despite their rarity they have a small but devoted following, as evidenced by the fact that they survived the nationalizing of the industry when many smaller brands were culled out. Like the legend of Troy itself, the brand has endured.
In 1985 a California company began production of a cigar for the American market and saw further opportunities for Troya as a brand name. The original Troya cigars were respected and sold well, but like many of the best cigars of that generation they were battered by the tempest of the 90’s Cigar Boom. But once again, they survived. In 2004 the blend was revamped and another line, the Troya X-Tra, was introduced to appeal to the heavyweight crowd.
The next stop on Troya’s path was at the door of Jose “Pepin” Garcia, one of the hottest cigar makers around. In early 2007 the Pepin-made Troya Clasico was unveiled in three sizes — robusto, toro, and churchill. I haven’t figured out why Troya names their cigars with the numbers they do — their robustos are called 18, toros are 54, and churchills are 63. (The individual digits all add up to nine. Hmmm…) The Clasicos are numerated in this fashion as well, but with the roman numeral instead. Nice touch.
Troya Clasicos are made in Esteli, Nicaragua at Garcia’s Tabacalera Cubana with all Nicaraguan tobaccos. The wrapper is a luscious and dark “corojo oscuro” and the filler is a blend of corojo and criollo from the Jalapa region. The churchill is a 7 inch by 50 ring double corona size, and these come packed 20 to the box. It’s a handsome cigar with an oily, rich looking wrapper and a perfectly triple-capped head.
The churchill starts up in an unusual fashion for a Pepin cigar: it’s buttery smooth. Bean flavors take the vanguard here — cocoa and African coffee (I’ve been roasting some Ethiopian Harrar that has an eerily similar aroma.) Following quickly on this initial impression is a bittersweet woody flavor that fans of Pepin will recognize immediately. The smoke for the first third is relatively mild compared to other Pepin made cigars — relative, that is, to the blast of pepper that introduces many of Garcia’s cigars.
The body picks up more weight into the second and third acts, and ventures into leathery territory. The finish is lengthy and the aftertaste retains the slightly bitter woody flavor that announces itself at the start. What remains the same throughout the duration of the smoke is the delicate caramel-coffee sweetness of the aroma from the wrapper, and I think this is what defines this cigar.
The last third builds, edging towards a full body, and the cigar exits with a tart smack. This is a hallmark of Don Pepin’s blends, and it’s what fans of his cigars appreciate. This is a long smoking cigar (about an hour and a half for me) and while there aren’t any major transitions it is consistently complex and very well balanced throughout.
I was lucky enough to receive a fiver of these from reader Lucky7 (thanks again!) and so far I’ve smoked three. One had a weak plug at the head of the cigar which I was able to bore through with a pipe tool. Other than that these burned quite well and had no serious construction problems.
Troya Clasico churchills are going to run in the 8 to 10 dollar range, and I do believe they are worth the expense. This is a medium to full bodied cigar that reminds me a little of Pepin’s Sancti Spiritus — it’s a less aggressive blend that leaves out none of the complexity or the basic character of his art. If you’ve smoked the Pepin Blue Label or Tatuaje or any of the stronger cigars from El Rey de Los Habanos and found them to be too heavy for your taste, do yourself a favor and try a Troya Clasico. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
A desert sunset and a fine cigar. Life is good.