Cigar giant Altadis USA managed to sneak in this extension to the well respected Trinidad line last year: Trinidad Paradox, a medium to full bodied blend with a Mexican Criollo 98 wrapper. I tend to shy away from Mexican tobacco, but I will usually make an exception for leaf grown in the San Andres area, and this is one of those instances.
The binder is a Dominican piloto leaf, with filler from Nicaragua, and — gulp — more of the dreaded Mexican. The cigar is box pressed and presented in odd, but attractively lacquered rhomboid boxes of 16. I guess that fits in with the Paradox allusion.
According to a very short blurb in Cigar Insider, the “paradox” is the “combination of modern tastes and traditional cigar-making.” But is that really a paradox? I thought that was just the way cigars are made today. Then again, I am perpetually mystified by cigar companies’ marketing strategies, so maybe “paradox” is more revealing than it appears at first glance.
Trinidad Paradox is made in the colossal Tabacalera de Garcia factory in the Dominican Republic, and it is available in four sizes:
- Churchill – 7 x 57
- Toro – 6 x 54
- Robusto – 5 x 54
- Belicoso – 6 1/8 x 52
The Criollo wrapper on the Paradox is a dry colorado claro, but the leaf is consistent in color and not overly rustic. The stick is finished with the typical Altadis “Cullman” style rounded head and a functional cap. This cigar is box pressed, but even so it is a little soft to the touch. This hardly matters, since the draw is consistently good and it burns evenly.
Overall construction: Excellent.
Trinidad Paradox is billed as a medium-to-full bodied cigar, but I think it is probably more in the middle of the range. It starts up with a mild cocoa and brown sugar flavor. In the first part of the cigar there is an underlying earthy flavor that grows slightly musty, but in a pleasant way.
The cigar picks up some black pepper as the ash grows longer, but compared to some of the cigars coming out of Esteli these days it can hardly be called “spicy.” The pepper blends nicely with the other flavors, which continue to provide depth and complexity. The aroma remains sweet and slightly pungent, despite the continuing notes of cocoa and coffee.
The toro seems to wind up a bit prematurely, a half-inch above the band, but my enthusiasm for the cigar might have inspired me to puff a little too frequently. It starts to char at this point, and that is my signal to put the butt to bed.
Serious cigar enthusiasts often pass over cigars from huge cigar conglomerates like Altadis USA. I guess those of us in search of the perfect cigar experience expect mediocrity from the mainstream, and that expectation is frequently warranted. Nor is this phenomenon unique to cigar smokers — haute cuisine, fine wine, and nearly every other specialized subset of aficionado has its share of snobs. I’ve been guilty of snobbery, I admit. But I try to be fair.
I’m glad I gave this cigar a chance. Even though it uses Mexican leaf, and even though it is made in the world’s largest cigar factory, Trinidad Paradox is a very respectable smoke. The flavors are nicely balanced and complex for a medium-bodied cigar. MSRP is in the $6-7 USD range. Bigger is not often better, but this Altadis USA blend rates a look.
Final Score: 89