Pleasure / July 2016

Holy Smokes: Marrying Cigars and Champagne

Mike Choi’s experience in cigar pairings is second to none, so with The Rake’s online theme as Love & Marriage, we turned to the expert to recommend a match made…

Firstly I'd just like to congratulate The Rake's editor, Tom Chamberlin on his recent nuptials and wish him and his new bride, Natasha, a fantastic new life together. I know Tom likes his cigars and I'm sure he smoked his way through a fair few at his wedding and on his honeymoon.

So I guess that brings us to how I can work this month’s online theme of love and marriage in to a cigar tasting? Luckily Aleks, The Rake’s Online Editor, gave me a nudge in the right direction. The simple answer is a cigar and drinks pairing. Fortunately as the Manager of the Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop for over 4 years, I've organised my fair share of pairing events.

July also happens to be the month in which my most esteemed employers and mentors, Edward and Eddie Sahakian, celebrate their birthdays. Weddings and birthdays mean only one thing to me for drinks, champagne! And for all you stick in the muds who believe you should only drink rum, whisky and cognac with cigars, pray open your minds and taste buds.

I managed to attend the 2016 Habanos Festival in Cuba and received some of the upcoming releases for 2016 (fingers crossed we will start receiving them in the last quarter of this year). I’ve chosen the Trinidad Topes Edición Limitada 2016 to try for this pairing.


The Facts

Brand: Trinidad

Vitola: Topes (Robusto)

Tobacco: Long filler, totally handmade with tobacco from Vuelta Abajo, Cuba

Size: 4.9” (125mm) x 56

Box size: Semi Boite Nature box of 12

Strength: Medium to medium full

Smoking time: 1 hour 10 minutes


People often ask if Trinidad cigars are Cuban, as they associate the name with the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. In reality, the brand is named after a rather famous city in the south of central Cuba. It was founded in the 16th Century and its official name is La Santisima Trinidad (The Holy Trinity). The cigar brand dates back to 1969 and was originally made for diplomats like Cohiba. Unlike Cohiba, Fidel Castro never gifted these cigars to anyone. They were given by lower ranking Cuban officials to lesser foreign diplomats. Their original size was a Laguito no.1 (which is exactly the same as the Cohiba Lancero) and which measures 7.6” (192mm) x 38. In 1997 the powers that be decided to change the size to 7.6” (192mm) x 40 and rename the vitola, Laguito Especial.

So I’m at my usual smoking terrace in London, enjoying a lovely summer’s day (I still brought my umbrella, it is London after all) watching the wispy clouds float by to smoke this unreleased cigar. The first appearance of the Topes is inviting. It has the modern Trinidad band with the Edición Limitada black and gold embossed band underneath it. The tobacco has been aged for at least two years and the wrapper is a beautiful maduro colour. As with all Trinidad cigars, the cap is formed in a pigtail.

For a relatively new and small brand, Trinidad has been chosen twice previously to release an Edición Limitada.

  • Trinidad Ingenios EL 2007
  • Trinidad Short Robusto T EL 2010

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Mike Choi

These views are my personal views and you are welcome to yours and I respect that. They come from my experience of both smoking and managing a cigar shop. I have my own vintage cigar company called Casa Puro, I am a Master of Havana Cigars, Runner Up Habanosommelier World Championships, Winner UK Habanosommelier Championship and also won Cigar Journal’s World’s Best Cigar Lounge Award.