Part of the Rehman Rashid series of reviews

THE best cigar I ever had came home with me on an impulse – and it wasn’t even my impulse. The sales manager of my Kuala Lumpur retailer had placed two Trinidad Robusto Extras among the couple of dozen other cigars I had gone there to acquire.

Hers was the best kind of salesmanship – if you’re going to give away a freebie, don’t toss in some cheap remainder-bin dog rocket nobody wants: invest the best.

The two Trinidads she gave me looked shabby and sad, dusty and grey and frayed of foot. They’d been languishing in an open box on the retailer’s back shelf for a long time. Nobody had wanted to buy these last two (understandable, at about US$50 each in this country). I’d had a Reyes and a Coloniales in my time and, although there is no way not to be impressed by any Trinidad, the cost-benefit analysis didn’t compute for me.

And I tend to shun little cigars (if you don’t enjoy them, why bother; if you do, you’ll want another). The TriniRobEx, though, was exactly my preferred size. After a few days in my humidor, the cigars had regained some suppleness and sheen. I lit one. Two hours later, the sales manager was chagrined to tell me they didn’t have stock at present and therefore could not sell me a box of these cigars.

Within a fortnight, I had acquired two boxes of 12 from other purveyors.

I’ve regretted significant box purchases before – my tastes changed before I could finish consuming 25 Partagas Serie D robustos, for instance, or Partagas 8-9-8 lonsdales. One gets bored; familiarity can breed contempt; I enjoy variety: I maintain four humidors of mostly Cubans, Dominicans and Nicaraguans, of about a dozen makes of every size and shape from corona on up to the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona and Partagas Lusitania.

These Trinidads are now the cream of my crop; top of the heap; pride of my stash. I hope some of these first 26 will still be in my humidor years from now. And somewhere among them may be the second one she gave me – the greatest treasure of the lot, because it was free, and the oldest of them all.

I am not a cigar reviewer. I have never been moved to determine what other things cigars taste like. I’m more apt to inhale deeply the fragrance of a forest or rain on fresh-cut grass and think of the cigar to complement it. But there are other ways to express appreciation for these minor miracles of Man and Nature, and this is one.