When James Suckling named the Trinidad Robusto T as his cigar of the year, i could see why he admired the cigar as much as he did. From the half a dozen sticks i smoked in 2010, i really enjoyed them too, but i never got around to reviewing it for this blog.

Released in 2009 to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Trinidad brand and the 10th Anniversary of the brand’s commercial availability, the Trinidad Robusto T was remarked by many as THE best general release cigar from Cuba in 2009. Technically, not a “robusto” in the strictest sense of the word, smokers the world over found the cigar a perfect size as it presented the classic Trinidad flavours. Larger than the Reyes and the Coloniales, but smaller than the Robusto Extra, it fits nicely into the rotations of many, an even 60-90 minute cigar.

Visually, the cigar is excellent. Firm to the touch, slight veining to add that little bit of Cuban character with an extremely fresh aroma when unlit. I had this cigar with a cup of sweet espresso early in the morning, and as i was running the tobacco under my nose, i was taken to a scene of clear running water, and despite the gorgeous scent wafting from my hot cup of coffee, i could not help but smell a distinct sweet tea aroma from its foot. Interesting.

To me, the Cuban cigar is represented by two premium brands. Cohiba being one, and the Trinidads being the other. Where Cohiba tends to be quite powerful in its presentation, representing the tough tumble of the tobacco fields and the sweat and work of the factories, i’ve attached an association of Trinidad with the softer, gentler side of Cuba: the jazz music, the latin dancing, the delicate sweetness of an outstanding glass of Havana Rum.

And so it was with the Robusto T. The draw was excellent, firm resistance just the way i like it. Just from the draw, i knew i was going to get a luxurious smoking experience; firm draws tend to suggest slow burns, and for a heavy puffer like myself, that’s ideal.

Lighting up the cigar, and taking the first few draws was blissful. Right off the bat, it presented a very intense smoothness, milky chocolate cream, and very, very sweet. It’s not easy to find a Cuban cigar you can describe as “smooth”; the Partagas’ and Montecristos’ tend to be quite packed with sharp, intoxicating flavours, the RyJs and Ramon Allones’ are floral sweet — very few can be classified creamy smooth, and even the rare examples of them will find it hard pressed to match what the Robusto T delivers.

As i progressed through the first third, it rarely wavered from the medium-light body. The second half offered some pepper and spice in a wonderful transition, and a pronounced clove and cinnamon touch that i feel is unique to the Trinidad brand. Cohiba gives you grass. The Trinidad makes you feel like you’re taking a stroll through an old school spice shop. Fantastic.

The final third allows the cigar to show some of its tougher sides, but in a very gentlemanly manner — some bitter sweetness comes through, but overall the balance and refinement is maintained. Remember i was drinking a cup of espresso. I could have sworn, by the end of the cigar, that the cup was a mocha latter instead. The creamy chocolateness of it all, even at the finish, is really quite powerful. A lovely finish, that i’m still tasting now, several hours later.

Verdict: 92/100. The twin peaks of the Cuban cigar are the Cohibas and the Trinidads. Both, in their own times, have acted as diplomatic gifts for the island state. The Robusto T is certainly pricey, but when you’re presented with such quality, it’s hard to haggle over the price. Do yourself a favour, kick your 2011 off with one of these.