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Size: 6 3/10 inches (160mm)
Ring Gauge: 50
Country of origin : Cuba
As a fan of the Partagas marque, I was very quick to buy a box of these when they first became available. The bands on these cigars have been the subject of much discussion. Initial batches came without the 'Seleccion Privada' arched across the top of the upper band - so this cigar is from an early batch I believe. The cigars come in a smart box of 10 cigars.
The cigar wrapper is smooth, and has few veins. The initial smell from the unlit cigar - along the length and foot give a smell of premium chocolate. I cut the cigar using a straight cut using a Palio cutter. The initial draw is easy but not loose.
I toasted and lit the cigar using a Xikar jet flame lighter. My initial observation is that the cigar is milder than a typical Partagas. There are nuances of chocolate and a woody note too. As I start on the first third, the cigar starts to give a pepper spiceiness that tingles on the tongue and the palette. The cigar is well constructed and burns easily and evenly. Smoke production is good without being excessive.
The cigar holds a firm grey ash, and as the first third is smoked down, the pepper notes remain along with a hint of chocolate and coco like sweetness.
Into the second third, there is more of the same. The cigar remains surprisingly mild for a Partagas. The pepper notes increase and I actually notice a little tongue-bite, so I slowed down my draw rate which compensated for it. The cigar gradually builds in power and I would describe the strength as medium. This cigar doesn't have the power of a Serie C Nr 3 or a D4, but the spiceiness and chocolate notes remain. Combustion and burn remain good and require very little in the way of touch-ups.
Into the final third, the cigar did increase markedly in strength. As someone who isn't a stranger to strong sticks, I actually noticed myself sweating a bit! (It may have been that toasty smoking jacket!) it was definitely a cigar of two halves, and the increase in power was very sudden, almost like someone had flicked a switch...
The overall smoking time for this stick was 70 minutes. I think it is a cigar that benefits from being smoked slowly, as the pepper notes do become increasingly prevalent as the cigar is smoked down. I have smoked 5 from the box of 10 now, and they have improved with each revisit. New, this was quite a chaotic cigar, but has now settled into a stick that builds gradually as it is smoked. That said, I still do not think they are at their best, and will benefit from further ageing. I think these will be great with a couple more years of age on them.
So in summary, not a typical Partagas by any means in my humble opinion. On first lighting, I think anyone could be forgiven for thinking that they were smoking something milder like an Upmann Mag 50 in a blind test. It is only when in the second and final thirds that this cigar starts to reveal its true Partagas colours - a wolf in sheep's clothing if you will...I firmly believe this cigar has a lot of potential, but it hasn't reached its peak yet. For all of you that have some of these in your humidors, I would recommend patience, and to give them more time. Your patience will be rewarded.