2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Partagas Cigars

2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Partagas Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Partagas Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

By the Cigar Advisor Editors

A Brief History of Partagas Cigars

Partagas Cigars was founded in 1845; among the oldest and most storied Cuban cigar brands, they are the namesake of Spaniard Don Jaime Partagas y Ravelo. Don Jaime was an influential character in the cigar world: he pioneered new fermentation and aging methods to produce better quality tobaccos, and is credited with introducing the cigar factory lector – a person who read newspapers and books out loud, entertaining the rollers.

Legend has it, Partagas was also quite the ladies’ man: his unsolved murder in 1868 is believed to have been tied to an affair with a married woman.

His son, Jose, sold the cigarmaking business to Cifuentes, Fernandes y Cia, who would later add Cuban cigar legends like Bolivar, La Gloria Cubana and Ramon Allones to their stable. Partagas became the second most popular Cuban cigar brand in the 1950s; but Castro changed everything, when his rebels seized over a dozen cigar factories in their “nationalization” effort. The Cifuentes family’s factory chief at the time, Ramon Cifuentes Jr., fled the country and took his Cuban recipe with him.

Then there is Benji Menendez…his family legacy includes the Cuban Montecristo and H. Upmann cigar brands, until he, too, was forced to flee Castro’s Revolution. He ran cigar factories in a half-dozen countries – from the Canary Islands to Brazil – before meeting Ramon Cifuentes Jr. in 1983; as Cifuentes’ protégé, Benji would become Partagas’ Master Blender 11 years later. He retired in 2013, after bringing new and exciting blends to the Partagas rolling tables.

Cuban Partagas cigars remain a product under the direction of the Cuban government; The Cifuentes family name, meanwhile, remains on the Dominican-made Partagas cigar bands.

For this Advisor Guide to Partagas Cigars, we’ve sampled each of the lines currently available online – six in all. We’ve listed our reviews and tasting notes in the order each Partagas appeared on the market, starting with the classic non-Cuban Partagas and ending with Partagas Heritage. Scroll down to see our reviews, along with the basics on each blend that should give you a general idea of how it smokes. We always preach that taste is subjective, so it’s possible our palates may not agree with yours – but our results should be a good starting point to see if any or all of these Partagas cigars sound like they might be right for you. Try for yourself, and let us know in a comment below. And if you’ve smoked any of these before, share those experiences below as well.

Partagas Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: #10 (7 1/2″ x 49 Churchill)
Strength: Medium – Full
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican Republic & Mexico
Binder: Mexican San Andres

partagas cigars guide partagas cigar review BINConstruction: On the slightly rough side, but it has always had this appearance.
Draw: Solid.
Pre-light flavor: Very woody.
First Few Puffs: Toasty.
Base flavors: Cedar, earth.
Aroma: Woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Pretty solid.
Balance of flavors: Simple.

Summary: Interesting that I was given the Partagas #10 to review as this was the first real premium cigar that I ever cut and put to my lips. It was my brother-in-law’s wedding in the mid-nineties, the cigar boom was in full swing and this was finally my chance to enjoy the sheer pleasure my Dad had known for many a decade. And at that very moment, my love affair with cigars began.

partagas cigars guide partagas #10 cigar review

The Partagas #10 Churchill: “the perfect manning the grill smoke.”

As I smoke this many years later, my thoughts are that this is a very old-school cigar. It smokes well, has some nice flavor, but is basically one dimensional with no real complexity to speak of. Now is that a bad thing? Hell no! Not every cigar has to taste like Carmen Miranda’s hat fer crissakes (old school reference for an old school cigar). There are so many times that all I want is a straight-forward cigar that just tastes like good tobacco and I don’t have to sit and identify a cornucopia of notes and flavors.

There are two main things going on here: Cedar and earthiness that’s medium to full-bodied – and you know what, it tastes good and I like it. To me this is the perfect “manning the grill” smoke where I’m concentrating on other things while simply enjoying the taste of good, premium aged leaf.

 

 

Partagas Black Label Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Clasico (5 ¼” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Havano Medio Tiempo
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Binder: Dominican Republic (sun-grown)

partagas cigars guide partagas black label cigar review BINConstruction: Dark, super-oily wrapper leaf shows many bumps and veins, some very slight tooth. Color borders on Oscuro; decently packed, heavy in the hand.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor: Salty-sweet on the lips, like teriyaki beef jerky; plus dark coffee and black licorice.
Toasting & Light: ligero-heavy and super oily = long time to toast and light this cigar.
First Few Puffs: Pepper, sweet earth, dark coffee.
Base flavors: Pepper, dark roasted coffee, salt, wood, slightly sweet earth.
Retrohale: Somewhat floral – along with wood and some pepper (this gets more intense later).
Aroma: Wood, plus a sensation that’s somewhere between dark molasses and burnt sugar.
Burn & Ash Quality: Light it slow and right, and you’re rewarded with a nice even burn. Stacked grey ash drops at 1” segments.
Balance of flavors: Flavors lean full, nicely balanced.

Summary: Out of fairness, I must be up front and tell you that the Partagas Black is one of my desert island cigars. But I am not alone: this husky Robusto carries a 90 rating from Famous Smoke Shop customers.

It’s not that this Partagas has many diverse flavors – count in earth, pepper, dark coffee, leather, wood, sweetness – it’s that they come and go in their own subtly complex way. The overall sensations that are more noticeable and intense: lingering sweetness on the lips, full n’ meaty flavors in the smoke. Savory, in a gorgonzola-on-steak sort of way. The smoke is not overly plentiful, but what comes out feels very dense. If you’ve ever heard it described as “chewy,” this is what that means.

partagas cigars guide partagas black cigar review

Partagas Black is a dark, oily, 90-rated smoke that’s full of savory flavors. Thick, dense smoke, too.

Some special ingredients are involved: the core is loaded with Nicaraguan and Dominican ligeros. The binder is a richer-tasting Dominican “La Vega Especial” leaf. But the icing on the cake is the Connecticut Havano wrapper, prepared Medio Tiempo – thick and over-ripened on the stalk, for more power and flavor.

My experience with Black Label Partagas cigars is that they start out smoking more medium-full than full…but you can feel the strength coming at you as the smoke progresses. At halfway, it really turns on the jets. So go slow; you’ll appreciate the flavors more, anyway. The spice remains surprisingly (but appealingly) subtle thru the first half, but moves in for good at the midway mark. Finishes with notes of charred meat and campfire. The nub still smokes cool with an inch to go.

Expect that, at some point, you’ll need to touch it up. The Medio Tiempo wrapper and inner ligeros are just too oily and thick to burn from start to finish without an assist.

In the past, we’ve recommended Partagas Black to accompany a few fingers of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, but as I’m not hot on peaty Islays – I’ll say go stout. Either way, extremely satisfying.

 

Partagas 1845 Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size:  Clasico Toro (6 x 52)
Strength:  Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Dominican Ligero and Nicaraguan Seco
Binder:  Connecticut Broadleaf

partagas cigars guide partagas 1845 cigar review BINConstruction: Very well packed, the Habano leaf has a nice rustic look with a slight reddish hue. The veins are very fine, seams are faultless and there’s a faint sheen from the oils.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Basement-like must and sweet hay with a little black pepper. Cold draw: Slightly toasty, cedar, and earth.
Toasting & Light: Easy.
First Few Puffs: Sweet cedar and hay with a lightly toasted profile. There’s a semi-chalky and oily mouth-feel and a slight ginger spice on the finish.
Base flavors: Cedar, cream, toffee, ginger, white pepper.
Retrohale: Profoundly woody and spicy; consisting of cedar and toffee followed by a bite of white pepper and red pepper spice with a small rush of nicotine.
Aroma: Very woody and sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Nicely white/gray and solid stacks.
Balance of flavors: Mellow-medium in body, but favored flavor over strength. Flavors leaned toward the warm side of the spectrum with toasted, creamy, woody and spicy characteristics.

Summary: The Partagas 1845 line has done a good deal of revamping and tweaking as of late with an updated blend and stylish new packaging. The Clasico was, in fact, the very first of the line I sampled and truly stands on its own as a quality cigar with tremendous flavor that hits the bull’s eye of my target flavor profile.

partagas cigars guide partagas 1845 cigar review

Toasty flavors make Partagas 1845 a great pick for pairing with coffee. 

This cigar started off great with loads of sweet cedar and hay in a toasted and roast profile. The smoke was big and thick with an oily/chalky mouth-feel and a ginger-spice finish.

Moving down about an inch, the sweet hay and cedar notes remain constant. Though the flavors are invariably sweet, they shift for a time towards toffee, before leaving altogether by the final third. Flavors like popcorn, toast, and cream come and go, popping by for just a puff or two before moving on. After the retrohale the sweetness left me with a savory, woody and creamy cigar that pulled a chewy smoke.

Final thoughts: An excellent cigar I would feel comfortable recommending for novice and experienced smokers. Would make a knockout pairing with coffee.

 

Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size:  Toro (6 1/8 x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
Binder: Dominican Vega Especiale

partagas cigars guide partagas 1845 extra oscuro cigar review BINConstruction: The wrapper is coffee-black and rustic with heavy, weaving veins and a stubby looking capa. A semi-oily sheen.
Draw: Slightly tight.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Earth, woods, pepper and dark fruits. Cold draw: sweet raisins, earth, coffee, and anise.
Toasting & Light: Woods, cream, white pepper, toasted cedar, and a vaguely fruity sweetness. After a few puffs a chocolatey aftertaste develops.
Base flavors: Cedar, coffee, cream, earth, white pepper, chocolate.
Retrohale: Rush of white pepper spice, rich tobacco, earth, cedar and citrus.
Aroma: Woody, slightly astringent.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn line is slightly wavy but sharp. The ash is pure white and stacks nicely.
Balance of flavors: Very complex but in general favors dark, earthy and coffee-like notes. Favors flavor over strength.

Summary: When Partagas dubbed this 1845 the ‘Extra Oscuro’, they weren’t exaggerating; the Habano Oscuro wrapper on this bad boy is almost beyond black with a polished oily sheen.

While this Partagas lit easily enough, smooth notes of cream, white pepper, toasted cedar and a vague fruity sweetness were quick to rise to the top. With time, notes of chocolate, dark coffee and earth began to develop in exceedingly rich fashion.

partagas cigars guide partagas extra oscuro cigar review

Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro: deeply complex, and vastly underrated. If you’ve overlooked it in the past, it’s time to give it a try.

Midway through, the cedar stands out as the dominant note, and is both creamy and rich. Creamy coffee notes back things up with earth and the same vaguely fruity sweetness hanging around.

Toward the end the creaminess gets a big boost, complemented by a rich tobacco flavor, cedar, earth, coffee, white pepper and a slight sweetness and leather on the aftertaste. By the nub there’s a distinct charred wood and smoky flavor and the secondary notes shift back toward black coffee, earth, and cedar.

Final thoughts: A seriously underrated cigar, deeply complex and very enjoyable. Enjoy with some dark rum or high-proof bourbon.

 

Partagas 1845 Extra Fuerte Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Toro (6 ½” x 45)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Ligero
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan Ligero
Binder: Connecticut Habano

partagas cigars guide partagas 1845 Extra Fuerte cigar review BINConstruction: Beautiful dark and oily.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Sweetness.
First Few Puffs: Spicy, yet smooth.
Base flavors: Earth, leather, dark fruit, spice.
Aroma: woody, spicy.
Burn & Ash Quality: Pretty solid.
Balance of flavors: Well-balanced complexity.

Summary: I’m telling you that General Cigar really outdid themselves with this offering of aged tobacco goodness. This Extra Fuerte is truly a well-aged complex creation with a wonderful balance of intricate and intense flavors – in other words, there’s a whole lot going on with this one and it is damned good.

partagas cigars guide partagas 1845 extra fuerte cigar review

The 1845 Extra Fuerte is well-balanced: powerful, but with very robust flavors. 

While this is without question a full-bodied smoke, it is smooth as silk on the palate. There’s a good amount of spice that immediately hits the taste buds upon lighting, but you also get a nice sweetness as well, as that Nicaraguan ligero wrapper is responsible for both. Early on you get a smack of dark fruit or even a raisin-like quality. About halfway through the flavors shift and intensify as the cigar gets earthy and leathery as this complex little beast lets you know that you are indeed smoking a premium hand-rolled gem.

The appearance of this cigar alone makes you want to just grab it from the box and start smoking. And the construction is just perfect as it builds a solid ash with every puff you savor. I’m betting this is a cigar you just may not have tried yet, but, listen to me, you need to change that real fast.

 

Partagas Heritage Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size:  Robusto (5 ½” x 52)
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Honduran Olancho San Agustin (OSA)
Filler: Honduras (Jamastran), Mexico (San Andres), Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano)
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

partagas cigars guide partagas heritage cigar review BINConstruction: Slightly rustic appearance, Rosado coloring and full of tooth and bumps; very firm packing.
Draw: Clear, with slight resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Citrus, earth, wood.
Toasting & Light: Easy light with minimal toasting needed.
First Few Puffs: Big, thick smoke that bursts with cinnamon, wood and hay.
Base flavors: Underlying spice; sweet and creaminess, plus caramel. Later, it’s more sensations of wood, earth and leather.
Retrohale: Honey, wood and subtle spice – it’s a very cool and an easy retrohale.
Aroma: Floral and definitely sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Wavy – but be patient and all will be well, with only minor touch ups needed.
Balance of flavors: Decently balanced, but leans on the creamy side, with the complexities making subtle appearances.

Summary: Some talk of Partagas Heritage as a throwback cigar, or an “inspiration cigar” where the box and bands are reminiscent of Cuban Partagas and Partagas 150 and 160. I prefer to view it as a more dynamic version of the Partagas cigars you grew up on. And if you liked those, you’ll want this even more.

partagas cigars guide partagas heritage cigar review

Partagas Heritage: sweet and creamy from the get-go, then settles into a more “traditional” Partagas profile.

Partagas Heritage starts mellow to medium, with fat rips of smoke. The intensity of the flavors outpace the strength of this cigar. It smokes plush and lush – sweet and super-creamy, with cinnamon and a bit of wood. Sweet on the lips, spicy on the center of the tongue. Only viso leaves were used in the blend: these are from the middle of the tobacco plant, which yield leaves that are medium bodied in both texture and flavor. A more classic Partagas profile comes forward later, with citrus sweetness, spice, coffee, wood and earth. The creaminess eventually works its way back into the mix, but it’s not nearly as plush or sweet. I let it drop with 2” left.

The star of this story of the OSA wrapper…the same wrapper that’s on the CAO OSA Sol, the same wrapper that once Rick Rodriguez tasted it, he knew right away it was a winner. OSA supposedly has a rich, earthy flavor – and you can sense that taste coming through, once the creaminess subsides a bit.

The Heritage has carved out a little niche for itself among the Partagas cigars here: dutifully complex and sweeter than expected, yet still finds time to exhibit an old-school vibe. I say it’s best enjoyed in the medium (Robusto, Churchill) formats. If that’s what you’re looking for in a smoke, put the Heritage on your short list.

 

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