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Cigar Review – Partagas Naturales Natural

When I look at how many obscure boutique brands I’ve reviewed on here, it always surprises me when the big brands, I mean ones that have been around for hundreds of years, have been overlooked. Partagas, for example, is one of our biggest sellers and one of General Cigar Co.’s most popular brands, and yet we’ve never reviewed one of their cigars. I figure we’ve done enough reviews of rare and limited releases lately, so I decided to crack open a box of regular-line Partagas Naturales in the natural wrapper shade and put one of these stogies to the test.

As you probably know, Partagas gets its name from an extremely popular brand of Cuban cigars. When Cuba’s tobacco farms were seized by the state following the Cuban Revolution, Ramón Cifuentes, the head of the family who owned the Partagas brand, was offered the job of leading Cuba’s tobacco industry. However, he, like many other big players in the industry, refused the job and left the country. Cifuentes eventually licensed the names to General Cigar Co. and took on the task of recreating these cigars for the post-embargo American market.

The new incarnation of Partagas is made with Cameroon wrapper leaves, Mexican San Andres binders, and filler leaves from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. I have to say that at first glance, the Partagas Naturale was not the prettiest stick I’ve ever seen. The wrapper was very toothy with some spots, which I guess is typical of Cameroon wrappers, and the cap seemed pretty ruggedly applied. Upon closer inspection, though, I noticed that the stick was perfectly packed from head to foot, and after clipping the cap, the draw was nice and easy. Pre-light flavors were very clean and light, and reminded me of buttered toast.

Lighting this cigar was a cinch, even with a crappy soft-flame lighter, and I immediately got a wave of sweet, grassy coffee. An inch or so in, I started tasting leather and baking spice, and eventually some spicy cedar made its way into the mix. This cigar was smooth enough retrohale with entire mouthfuls of smoke, so I took a few of those and got the most pronounced butterscotch flavor I’ve ever gotten from a cigar.

Halfway in, the woody note ramped up, though it never overpowered the cigar’s foundation of coffee and tobacco. The ash, which had been hanging on for well over two inches, took a 5-foot fall and stayed half solid. Surprisingly enough, even though the flavors got a bit more intense, I still detected absolutely zero pepper. As I neared the final third, I tasted a little bit of fruit that sort of reminded me of plums.

As this cigar neared its end, everything pretty much boiled down to a straightforward coffee flavor with a long, rich finish. The retrohale vaguely reminded me of dulce de leche. With a little less than an inch left (a perfectly acceptable point for this to happen, I might add), the taste gradually deteriorated, and I decided to put it down.

Given the regular Partagas line’s billing as medium-to-full-bodied, I was expecting a little more pepper from this stogie, but it was smooth-as-can-be from start to finish. The flavors were solid and consistent with some varied notes weaving in and out of the smoke from time to time, and the construction was excellent. Once I lit the cigar, it took off and burned perfectly straight the entire time, never needing a relight or touch-up. I didn’t really know what to expect when I lit up, but I now can confidently say that some more of these stogies will definitely find their way into my humidor very soon.