Partagas, as many of you will know, is one of the most famous Cuban cigar brands today. With many cigar lovers, the Partagas Serie D No. 4 is an all-time favourite. With great consistency from box to box, great flavour profile, and the ever popular Robusto size leave little mystery as to why that is.
However, we decided to revisit one of the unsung heroes bearing the great name of Don Jaime Partagas y Ravelo, the founder of Real Fabrica de Tabaco Partagas and the Partagas cigar brand. The Partagas 898 Varnished.
There are two types of the Partagas 898. Varnished and unvarnished. The major distinction between them is size. With the Varnished weighing in at 6-3/4″ with a 43 ring gauge, the Unvarnished variation stands at 6-1/8″ with a 42 ring gauge.
Before lighting the cigar, we took a few moments to admire the beauty of the cigar. And although we say this quite often when talking about the cigars we love, the 898 really is a thing of beauty. It particularly sticks in our memories due to the size. The Lonsdale unfortunately is an unpopular size these days. The growing trend towards the thicker ring gauges has given Habanos good reason to follow this trend and all new releases recently out of Cuba have been a much thicker ring gauge. all three of 2012’s Edicion Limitada’s have been a 48 ring gauge and larger, with one of them coming from Partagas, the Serie C No. 3.
But it’s not just the Lonsdale form of the cigar. The wrapper is a nice medium to dark leaf with a beautiful oily texture and look. Free from veins and a thin, tall stature it’s a picture of perfection like the long, flawless legs of a supermodel. And we say that with all conviction. If ever there was a supermodel of cigars, Cuban or otherwise, the 898 is the Gisele Bundchen of them all.
A pre-light draw gives us a teasing mild earthy tobacco flavour. A very good indication of what’s to come. It’s also worth noting that the draw is tight. That will be something you’ll want to consider if you have become accustomed to the loose and easy draws of the thicker ring gauges. A thinner ring gauge usually means a tighter draw but the 898 is slightly more than expected.
Upon lighting the cigar, the tobacco flavour is there from the get-go but it’s a nice easy level of flavour to begin with owing to the 43 ring gauge. A couple more pulls and we’re introduced to the leathery undertones with a hint of coffee which really picks up in to the second third.
What’s perhaps most interesting is the way the cigar starts off a mild cigar and develops in to a stronger one part way through. It’s a pleasant experience as you’re taste buds become primed at the start for what is to follow. It’s what you want from a good cigar. It can be a complaint we have with the milder cigars that after about the half way point the cigar is too mild to keep our interest. And it can also be an annoyance with the stronger cigars that you fail to enjoy the start due to having to acclimatise yourself with the strong flavours.
Moving further down the cigar, we’d have to say the cigar is at its best at the half way point. A great cocktail of leather, spice and a hint of sweet cocoa at what we believe is just the perfect strength. Quite happily, this continues through to the end. A smoke that lasts somewhere between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes.
One of the most important things to note about the 898 Varnished is that it is one of the best cigars you can age. The complex and rich flavour profile only gets better with age and we’d recommend leaving a few in the humidor. However, even at a young age the cigars smoke well and are extremely enjoyable. Our review unit is from a February 2012 box meaning there’s been almost 15 months of age. Given another 15, we’d love to see how these develop.
Stogie: 898 Varnished
Ring gauge: 43
Price: £389/box of 25 at Humibros.com