Onyx Reserve cigars have enjoyed a very loyal following; now, this modern classic gets kicked up a few notches with the Onyx Esteli, created by AJ Fernandez. An all-Nicaraguan core gets treated to an almost pitch-black San Andrés wrapper; it sounds tasty on paper…but did Onyx Esteli pass our panel’s taste bud test? Watch now, and find out!
Cigar Advisor Panel: Trinidad Esteli Cigar Review – Video
CA Review Panel: Trinidad Esteli by Plasencia Cigar Review (Video)
By the Cigar Advisor Staff
The Trinidad Esteli by Plasencia Back Story
According to the Cuban Cigar Handbook, Trinidad cigars “were playfully considered a sort of ‘unicorn brand,’ something aficionados talked about frequently, but were rarely ever seen.” Starting in 1908, Trinidad cigars were mostly given as gifts to diplomats by the Cuban government, and since they were not distributed domestically, that made the brand even more legendary. Trinidad gained even wider attention during the Cigar Boom 90s, when their creator and former manager of the famed El Laguito factory, Avelino Lara, was interviewed in Aficionado magazine.
The Trinidad cigars more familiar to cigar smokers in the United States are made and distributed by Altadis U.S.A. Released in several different blends over the years, such as the Trinidad Paradox, Trinidad Reserve, and more recently, Trinidad Santiago.
Made at the Plasencia Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, Trinidad Esteli by Plasencia is a Nicaraguan puro blended with vintage Nicaraguan tobaccos spanning three years, 2008 to 2010. Most of the tobaccos were grown in the Jalapa Valley and come from the mid and lower primings of the plant. Moreover, Rafael Nodal, founder of Aging Room Cigars, and head of product capability for Tabacalera USA, also had a part in this new full-flavored selection which is exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop.
Trinidad Estelí by Plasencia cigars are handcrafted in the following four sizes:
- Churchill (7″ x 50)
- Belicoso (6½ x 52)
- Toro (6″ x 50)
- Robusto (5″ x 50)
Each size is presented in a box of 20 cigars, as well as Toro and Robusto 5-packs.
Trinidad Esteli by Plasencia – Toro
Country of Origin/Factory: Nicaragua / Plasencia Cigars
Size: 6″ x 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa Habano, vintage 2010
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa Habano, vintage 2009
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa Habano Seco and Viso, Ometepe Habano, plus Condega Habano Ligero, all vintage 2008
John Pullo’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: a lighter brown shade of Habano, with very fine tooth and generous oils. Some veins, some bumps; well packed and firm to the squeeze.
Draw: First sample was a little tight, second was clear and easy.
Pre-light flavor: Tangy-sweet, wood, earth and hay – but all were very subtle.
Toasting & Light: Roasted coffee, citrus and nut.
Base flavors: Sweet n’ tangy with wood, pepper and mellow spice.
Retrohale: HERE’S where the pepper lives…a spicy cedar, too.
Aroma: Woodsy, with a slight floral smell and taste.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burns great with a tight carbon line and grey “coin stack” ash.
Balance of flavors: Nice layers, with the sweet and woody flavors taking the lead.
Consistency: Two of these Trinidad Esteli cigars in a row, and they were pretty much identical.
Summary: A “fresh off the boat” smoke, literally – as these Trinidad Esteli cigars hit the inbound freight dock only hours earlier. I will say that I, like most people, have not smoked much of the non-Cuban Trinidad line (or the Cuban Trinidad, for that matter). Word on the street was that the NC Trinidads were few and far between, and not always everyone’s favorite. But with Rafael Nodal and Nestor Plasencia involved in this Trinidad Esteli project, there’s a whole host of reasons to give this brand a fresh eye, as it’s been received with enthusiastic and nodding approval since it landed.
Trinidad Esteli wins the aroma game right at the start: woodsy and floral, with a savory room note – it’s especially noticeable when you light and toast it. Flavor is full, strength is medium from start to finish; there’s a really enjoyable creaminess to the smoke, tinged with an oily, buttery factor. Base flavor includes nut (but not toasted), wood and sweetness, with a “fine ribbon of spice from beginning to end.” I also sensed some semi-exotic spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon, plus a bit of a savory note, too – nicely refined.
I tend to pick up a tangy sweetness in sun grown tobaccos – but because Plasencia has provided a lower priming Nicaraguan Habano wrapper for this Trinidad, that sensation is a little more muted than in other sun grown cigars. It’s kind of like a really good cup of black coffee…not that burned-pot “French” crap that Starbucks passes off as gourmet, but a really good medium roast, with nothing in it. Some coffee roasts have a subtle citrusy sensation (it’s almost oily, like a zest) in the flavor profile – and you might detect the same here. So of course, this cigar will pair great with coffee; if you forgo that recommendation, pour 2 fingers of neat whiskey – and make it the youngest (like Glenfiddich or Glenlivet 12 year) in your liquor stash. This 6×50 Toro is a slooowww smoke, so you better pour two.
Gary Korb’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Gorgeous! The vintage Habano wrapper had a milk chocolate patina that’s even in hue throughout. No soft spots were found anywhere along the length of the cigar, and the cap, which cut in a perfect circle, was deftly applied.
Draw (airflow): Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Earthy and leathery.
First few puffs: Earth, cedar, sweet spice.
Base flavors: Cedar, sweet spice, dried fruit.
Aroma: Sweet and floral.
Burn / Ash Quality: The burn was even right out of the gate and bore a razor thin carbon line, while the ash was very firm and mostly grey in color. When ashed, the cigar revealed an appealing cone shape, proof that the cigar was expertly rolled.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
Summary: When I read the blend information for the Trinidad Estelí by Plasencia selection I got a vibe that this would be the kind of cigar I’m often attracted to. I think it was the amount of mid-priming vintage Jalapa tobacco in the cigar that told me the cigar would have a sweet component to it, and it panned-out from the first golden puff to the last.
The cigar was delectably smooth, creamy and well-balanced throughout issuing base notes of cedar and sweet spice. A floral undercurrent also courses along its banks, while a dried fruit tanginess jumps in occasionally for an impromptu photo-op. The smoke is dead-center balanced and medium in body for the first two thirds, pushing a little more into the medium-full range in the last act.
Although I wouldn’t classify the Trinidad Esteli Toro as exceptionally complex, there are some other tasty surprises. Suggestions of dark roast coffee, nutmeg, and caramel raise their hands in several spots, stopping just short of those cedar, sweet spice and tangy core flavors.
The Trinidad Estelí by Plasencia Toro is one of the most rewarding cigars I’ve smoked this year. It has first-rate construction, great balance, a sweet-spicy flavor profile, a savory aroma, and it’s affordable. As for pairing, I say try it first with coffee, but not too sweet or without sugar altogether. You may even want to just do it black. There is enough sweetness in the cigar, so you don’t want to overdo it. I would say the same goes for alcoholic libations; something that acts more as a counterpoint to the Trinidad’s sweetness.
All-in-all a marvelous treat for the new cigar smoker and those who have a preference for medium to medium-full blends.
Fred Lunt’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Wrapper has a beautiful oily sheen and a few large veins. The construction seemed very solid; a well packed and hefty cigar. I don’t normally comment on the band, but I really like the Trinidad band: royal blue with gold trim makes it really stand out.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: very earthy, some chocolate, toast and woods.
Cold draw: very toasty, earthy, sweet hay, dry aged wood.
Toasting & Light: Very sweet and toasty; very rich and creamy with a semi-chalky texture. Extremely smooth.
Base flavors: Cream, toast, spice, white pepper, cocoa, and flowers
Retrohale: At 2/3: A slight tinge of white pepper followed by earth, toast, a dry fruit sweetness, and nuts. At 3/3: Very floral and spicy with loads of sweetness and white pepper.
Aroma: Toasted cedar, sweet barnyard.
Burn / Ash Quality: Ash is a white/black combo, very solid. The burn line is level.
Balance of flavors: Leans on the lighter side with toast, cocoa, flowers and spice dominating.
1 inch, the body is mellow so far, very toasty, creamy, woody and a slight peppery tingle.
The flavors develop a bit more; there’s a definite toastiness, followed by a very dry earthy flavor.
2/3: Intensity steps up slightly, a dry cocoa flavor steps in and the aroma is very spicy- like incense. A floral note also makes itself present, very strong with a slight honeyed sweetness.
3/3: The cocoa sweetness and floral note gains strength. Loads of cream, cocoa powder, flowers, and earth chime in with a lovely spice backing things up.
A slightly charred note lasts for a few puffs, but seems to leave as quickly as it arrives.
Summary: The most complex cigar I’ve smoked in 2018, Trinidad Esteli took my palate on a world tour of tasting notes and left me satisfied and craving more. While the cold draw took on sweet, toasty, and creamy notes of sweet hay, toast, and chocolate- the first few puffs were incredibly mellow yet rounded. With the roar of my triple flame now extinguished, the aroma of the Trinidad Esteli was intense with a charred cedar and sweet barnyard aroma while the tasting notes were vaguely sweet and toasty with dry notes of woods, earth, and white pepper.
A retrohale kicked the 2/3 into gear with increased intensity and a growing sensation of dry cocoa powder; the aroma begins to take on a spicy, incense-like scent. An incredibly strong floral note takes the foreground with the cocoa and there’s a honeyed sweetness on the finish. Another retrohale at the final third mark brought on a wealth of creamy flavors: fresh flowers, baking spice, and white pepper. The notes saw an increase of strength in cocoa, flowers, earth and baking spice. Oddly enough, a heavy charred note steps in for a few puffs before dissolving just as quickly as it came back to obscurity.
Final thoughts: A deeply complex, medium-bodied cigar, enjoyable for a connoisseur yet friendly to the greenhorn. Pair with an aged Scotch or morning coffee on the porch.
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes…
Strength: Medium to full-bodied.
First Few Puffs: Very woody with a slight sweetness.
Aroma: Very toasty.
Burn-Ash Quality: Just perfect.
Balance: Excellent balance.
Base Flavors: Wood, citrus, cocoa, floral.
Summary: Wow, did this cigar ever surprise the hell out of me – and I mean that in a seriously good way. The Trinidad brand isn’t one you hear very much about in the social media chatter, but I honestly think that is about to change.
The Plasencia factory makes this wonderful new Trinidad Esteli offering exclusively for Famous Smoke Shop and they have hit this one out of the proverbial park. Now, for the cigar I smoked in the video, it was my first one ever and I didn’t even get halfway through to give my full analysis. But several days later I’ve smoked four of these medium to full-bodied beauties in various sizes, and damn, am I ever impressed.
Right off the bat I found it a bit peppery and a tad spicy, but that quickly passed as a wonderful citrus-like sweetness set in with a kind of a floral quality that is only usually found in well-aged Cuban cigars. You’ll also notice a woodiness along with a hint of cocoa. Absolutely delicious.
Great construction is also another high-point for this cigar as the burn and ash is solid and the draw creates a whole lot of toasty smelling smoke. I guess it’s obvious that I love this cigar, because, well, I really do. VERY highly recommended by yours truly, and that seems to be the consensus from almost everyone who has enjoyed the hell out of it.
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