Partagás Piramides Edición Limitada 2000

Today’s dusky beauty comes to you from a very rare place indeed: my kitchen. About once a year the old juices begin to boil within me, and I decide that it’s time to cook again my favourite dish: French onion soup. The juices would boil more often, but it is a very fundamental belief of mine that to do French onion properly you need to go long and slow, with low heat and constant stirring. Four hours is the absolute minimum amount of time required. I usually do eight. The first couple of hours, while the onions are browning, those are the hardest, because if one onion burns and sticks to the bottom of the pan it ruins the whole thing. The soup that is bubbling away on my stove at the moment is in around hour three – the broth has just been added – and can now be left more or less unsupervised while the flavours marry. It might not be strictly necessary, but I do like to stir it every fifteen minutes or so. If nothing else it gives me an opportunity to taste the broth and see how it’s coming along. Anyway, as I have a couple of hours with not much to occupy myself before dinner, it seems like a good time to enjoy a Partagás Piramides, Edición Limitada 2000. I wonder which scent will bother my neighbours more, cigar smoke or frying onions?

Partagás Piramides Edición Limitada 2000 unlit

The cigar begins extremely well, very creamy and nutty, with coffee notes. It’s sweet, spicy, and amazing. This thing has layers. It’s a tiramisu. I was going to drink cheap red wine with this – I have half a bottle left from the soup – but these flavours are far too subtle and far too good to drown out like that. The only appropriate accompaniment for this cigar is a glass of water.

I’d had soupe à l’oignon before, but the first time I really had it done right was in Paris in the early 2000s sometime. It was mid-afternoon and had been raining on and off all day, when, as much to get out of the wet as to fill my stomach, I wandered into a little crêperie on the Île Saint-Louis and ordered the lunch set menu, which began with a bowl of French onion. To say the soup was good could not understate it more: it was life changing. I’ve tried to find the place every time I returned to Paris since, but I’ve never been able to.

The first time I tried to cook it for myself was a few months later, back in Australia. I’d been at a party with a French friend where I’d raved about my new-found love of le soupe only to have him sneer at me derisively: “this food, you know, is for the peasants. Maybe you eat it at night when you are drunk, like kebab, but is not for lunch.” I stumbled home about midnight, drunk on far too much of his homemade pear liquor, and some soup seemed like just the ticket. I didn’t look up a recipe or anything – it’s peasant food, how hard can it be? – and basically just boiled an onion in white wine. Total time from raw vegetables to consumption would have been around thirty minutes. I spent around forty five throwing up.

Partagás Piramides Edición Limitada 2000, one third smoked

The burn of this cigar is just appalling. Every time I get up to stir the soup it goes out. Every time I set it down for more than about 30 seconds the wrapper goes out and only the core burns. When I do get the wrapper alight for a little while it burns unevenly. I have to touch it up almost with every puff. I feel like I’m smoking a pipe. I’ve only ever encountered one other cigar that burned as badly as this: the Montecristo Robusto EL 2000. This then, is another of the infamous Habano 2000 fireproof wrappers. All that said, it is delicious. Halfway through it is stronger, a heavier coffee and earth. The cream is mostly gone, but a really first class cigar remains.

In 2009, now living in Shanghai, I used to haunt a steakhouse that was popular with the gourmet set. It was housed in an old mansion in the French Concession, and featured a lavish cigar lounge and a well-stocked wine cellar in addition to their restaurant. Their pride and joy was the steaks, and particularly the one at the top of the menu, a bone in rib eye of genuine prime US beef, that the owner would smuggle in in his suitcase personally on monthly meat runs. The trademark side dish was mac and cheese with shaved truffles that cost about the same as a week of lunches at my work cafeteria, but my special favourite was the onion soup gratinée, a variation served with a flaky pie crust rather than the usual croutons – I love a nice soggy, onion soaked baguette, but a buttery mess of onion and pastry has lot to offer as well. A gratinée followed by a nice little filet mignon, a few glasses of wine, perhaps an aged port and a cigar to round things off? It was a very civilized way to spend and evening, and worth any price in a savage place like Shanghai.

Partagás Piramides Edición Limitada 2000, final third

The end of the cigar is strong and dirty, but never bitter; fresh mud, straw, and rawhide leather, a barnyard in the rain. I never knew the old Partagás and its earthy charm, before the blend change in the mid-90s, but those who ought to know opine that this is reminiscent of it. To me it’s consistent with the anniversary cigars, and, were it not for the fireproof wrapper, it would be on par with them. On flavour alone it’s as good as anything out there. Of course, it’s almost impossible to smoke, which has to subtract a few points. I’d definitely take one of these over a PSD4, but I’m not sure that I could deal with a whole box.

The soup is ready.

Partagás Piramides Edición Limitada 2000 nub, with French onion soup

Partagás Piramides, Edición Limitada 2000 on the Cuban Cigar Website

Partagás 109 165th Aniversario Humidor

I’m seated on a bench in a public park overlooking a small lake. In the small lake there is a small island, and on the small island there is a small paved area with a bench and a large stone monolith that has a familiar silhouette carved into it: Melbourne’s memorial to John F. Kennedy. My plan coming here was to enjoy a cigar on that bench, and to share a little of my fine Cuban tobacco smoke with a man well known for his enjoyment of the same (and a man who did more to keep the prices of Cuban cigars down than anybody else in history), however, upon arrival I found the bench occupied by a young couple paying tribute to Jack with another of his favourite pastimes, and so me and my Partagás 109 from the 165th Anniversary Humidor are exiled to the far shore. It’s a big risk starting a three hour cigar in a park on a day like today; the sky is overcast, and rain is a definite threat.

Partagás 109 165th Aniversario Humidor unlit

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are few sizes nobler than the Nro. 109. If I really had to choose I suppose I’d take one of the long and thin panatelas, the Laguito No. 1 or No. 2 over the 109, but not much else. I pick the end of the cap off with my fingernail and torch the tip with my bic. The first notes are very sour, although right from the start there is a distinct heavy cream note trying to creep through. The sourness well and truly ruins it. The tobacco flavour is very light, almost undetectable. I often wonder if it’s my trained palette at work when the flavours are distinct like this, if I have spent so many years trying to taste something beyond the tobacco that my brain is now able to block it out. I need an amateur for a blind test.

The qualities that make the JFK memorial ideal for cigar smoking – namely that it’s sheltered from the elements and quite private (you’re invisible unless someone actually walks into the area, and you can usually see them long before they see you) make it ideal for heavy petting, something I did quite a bit of there in my teenage years. In my early twenties I also used to go there to smoke a different vile weed: the daemon marijuana.

It was never really my thing, the daemon. I used to take it occasionally to help me sleep, but as the years went by it stopped being a peaceful hand that lulled me into dreamland, and instead would keep me awake all night staring hatefully at myself in the mirror. There was a period though, in the back-end of my university days, when a few of my friends were enthusiastic marijuana smokers and drinks in bars seemed awfully overpriced, that we would occasionally get stoned and wander through the city on a Saturday night seeking adventure. The JFK memorial is typically where we would start from.

It’s funny how being inebriated seems to attract adventure. I’ve never been sure how I act when I’m in that state, with every hair on my body alive and prickling, aware of the sensation of my clothes brushing against my body as I move; when time seems to reset every five seconds or so, and conversations become impossible to follow, but as far as I can tell it’s pretty normal. In the early stages I suppose I might babble a bit and lose my train of thought in conversation, but not very far into the second university cigarette I get paranoid that I’m babbling and tend to clam up, answering only to direct questions and only monosyllabically then.

I remember one Saturday night we watched a shopfront burn. The neon sign had shorted out and caught fire, and as we watched the flames spread to some bushes out the front, and then the doormat. It peeled the stickers off the glass windows but didn’t do a lot beyond that. I called the fire brigade, but by the time they arrived it had mostly burned out, and they didn’t even stop their truck, just crawled by slowly checking it out before deciding it wasn’t a threat and tearing off to some more pressing emergency. Singing with strangers was a popular theme on these nights. Once when we were replenishing our buzz in a dark alley we came upon some girls who were trying to break into the back door of an apartment complex. They said they knew somebody who lived there, and we ended up having a sing-a-long with them, some discarded bread crates serving as a stage. I can recall at least five other occasions when we’d run into someone in a similar (or worse) condition to ourselves, who serenaded us with their freestyle rap. Once I wandered into a karaoke bar and attempted to sing Total Eclipse of the Heart, a song I crush when alcohol is the cause of my insobriety, and found myself totally butchering it. I wasn’t able to follow the key changes at all.

Partagás 109 165th Aniversario Humidor partly smoked

Halfway through the cigar is very pleasant, with a heavy cream note. There is a distinct coffee flavour as well, which is accompanied by some bitterness, but it doesn’t detract from it. In the aftertaste there is a slight orange citrus note. The draw is a tiny bit tight. It’s entirely my fault. When I opened this cigar I picked off just the cap, which with a regular shaped cigar would have been fine, but the 109’s conical head should probably be cut a little lower. To rectify the situation I periodically put my nail into the nub and wiggle it a bit, freeing up the tobacco. It makes a world of difference.

I remember one night on the herb we made friends with a group of black guys. We were walking along the street, stoned out of our minds when they stopped us and asked us where a certain club was. They weren’t blackfellas like we have in Australia (which in Melbourne are few and far between), but African Americans like you see in the movies, with baggy pants and baseball caps. They sniffed out our weed pretty fast, and soon we were sitting on a stoop passing around jazz cigarettes feeling like we were in a Spike Lee joint. They took us to the club, where at first the bouncer didn’t want to let the white boys in, but the leader of our new friends explained that we were “aight,” did a complicated handshake, and in we were, the only white faces in a room that was wall to wall in baggy pants, snapback caps and girls with juicy butts in tight leopard-skin dresses. It was straight out of South Central LA, a place I never would have imagined would exist in the middle of Melbourne. I say we were the only white faces: I mean we were the only white male faces. There were a lot of white girls there, every one of them looking at my friend and I with undisguised distain. My friend went off to dance, and when he did one of the white girls came up to me. “I don’t think you should be here” she said, looking down her nose. “I don’t think your friend is okay.”

The condescension and blaring hip-hop was too violent an assault for our messed up brains, and so within ten or so minutes we were back outside in an alley with a few of the black guys, passing joints around. One of our new friends wandered into the circle and held out his hand for me: “check this out.” His woollen fingerless glove was soaked through with something thick and viscous. I tentatively touched it with my finger. Blood. “Are you alright bro? Did you cut yourself?” He smiled a toothy smile. “Nah” he said “I just beat the shit out of some white-boy around the back.”

We parted company shortly after.

Partagás 109 165th Aniversario Humidor final third

The ending of the cigar is very dry and dusty, like sandy soil. It actually makes you thirsty. In the final inch or so it grows bitter with the tar, but in that bitterness there is a very distinct powdered chocolate note – the kind you get on the top of a cappuccino. Ten years of age improves most cigars, but typically when you say a cigar needs more age you mean that it’s too strong, which is not the case here. The tobacco is very mild, and the whole thing is well balanced, but it’s not terribly elegant. Ten more years should round off the rough edges and make it a smooth, elegant, coffee and cream bomb.

In 2014 this is the weakest of the four Partagás anniversary cigars, but it’s the one that has the most potential to improve in my eyes. If you have a box I’d leave it alone and check back in 2020. Even now, it’s still better than a PSD4.

Partagás 109 165th Aniversario Humidor nub

Partagás 165 Aniversario Humidor on the Cuban Cigar Website

Partagás Grand Pyramid 160th Aniversario Humidor

With each passing lustrum the Partagás Aniversario humidors grow more and more complicated: the boxes more elaborate, the bands better printed, the sizes more unusual, and the release more numerous. So it is for 2005’s 160th Anniversary Humidor; 250 editions of an ornately carved little box, 100 cigars in each, 50 robusto extra and 50 grand piramides. The latter of these I will combust today.

Partagás Grand Pyramid 160th Aniversario Humidor unlit, on a Japanese knife

I open the end of the cigar with a sharp knife and take a match to the foot. It begins very well, a smooth, mild tobacco. “Pepper” is often sighted a characteristic of Partagás cigars, and it’s a term I try not to use in my own tasting notes because I’m never sure exactly what people mean by it. Sometimes I taste capsaicin in a cigar, the tang that gives chilli peppers their heat (and their flavour), while other times there is a definite note of cracked black pepper, or a non-specific spice that lends it a “peppery” heat. On this occasion there is a note of peppercorns in the back-palette, the aroma of the green berries that I used to crush into puddles to see the oil rainbows at the age of five or six.

For a long and complex cigar like this, I thought it might be time to tell a long and complex tale of revenge, which begins, as most such tales do, with two pubescent boys, me (who at that time was known as Shroom, thanks to my trademark bowl-cut hairstyle), and David Poplar, who everybody called Dropbear. We were friends for a time, but – as is usual for hormonal dorks – we had a falling out, and became the bitterest of enemies. I don’t remember what we fell out about, but I remember the aftermath: six months or so of putting gum on each other’s lockers and stealing things from each other; pens, rulers, compasses, the power cables to each other’s laptops, that sort of stuff. More than once these thefts brought us to the principal’s office, where I would tell my version of the truth, Dropbear would lie through his teeth, and we’d both end up in trouble. At one point I shot him in the leg with a crossbow (it had a rubber safety tip on the bolt and didn’t break the skin, but it left a hell of a bruise). By far the worst and most lasting skirmish though, was when Dropbear got me kicked out of the Advanced Maths class. In later years I would emerge as a wordy, artistic type, barely able to do math beyond simple arithmetic, but at one point I was a promising mathematician, well deserving of my place among the twenty or so scholars of Advanced Maths. It was inspection day, when all of us had to submit our workbooks from the past term so that Mr. Patterson could make sure we were doing our homework, and fully confident in my pages of neat calculations, I spent the period we were given to finish off anything messing about with my friends, leaving my workbook unguarded my desk. At the end of the period I turned it in with confidence, totally unaware that Dropbear had spent that fateful period defacing it, tearing out pages, writing in mistakes, crossing things out, and drawing obscene cartoons in coloured marker. The next day my parents were called, and despite my protests, my tearful scene in Mr. Patterson’s office, I was demoted, an advanced math student no longer. I changed schools a few months later, but that night I swore that one day I would destroy Dropbear, not with some simple act of revenge, not with an act of petty theft or a defaced maths book, but with a Machiavellian plot that would see him utterly crushed and ruined forever.

Partagás Grand Pyramid 160th Aniversario Humidor, two thirds remaining

Progressing, the cigar grows stronger with a bitter espresso note. It’s very pleasant, really. Very balanced. You can taste the care. The burn remains dead straight.

Fifteen years after I’d last seen the Dropbear I was living in Japan. It was an Autum night, just on the cusp of jacket weather, and I had been invited out to a chankonabe restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Chankonabe is what the sumo-wrestlers eat, a high protein, high fat soup of fish, squid, and prawns, cooked in a rich sake broth. Once the meat is eaten the pot is filled with rice, making a tasty, carb heavy stew for weight gain. The logic goes that the senior wrestlers need to build muscles, so they eat first and get all the meat. The junior wrestlers need weight, so they get the rice. The restaurant that night was all you can eat and drink, and being an epicurean of the first order, I took full advantage, filling myself to capacity with rich food and jug after jug of beer and sake. After the meal, well and truly lit up, the party moved to an Australian themed bar where I was a well-known regular. The bartender there was a middle-aged alcoholic Japanese man named Mori-san. When I first started going to that bar I would order my trademark whiskey-ginger, and would argue each time with the amount of whiskey he put in my drink. At first Mori-san would take this with good humor, adding perhaps an extra thimbleful to my glass, but once I was well established as a regular (I was at the point where I would occasionally tend bar while the proprietor had a nap on the couch), he decided to try a different tactic to ween me off large drinks: he would hide my glass beneath the bar and pour me a full six shots of whiskey with just a splash of ginger and see what happened.

My second whiskey drink rendered me insensible, or at least incapable of joining society without making a spectacle of myself, and my embarrassed friends propped me up at a corner table. I guess they felt a little bad about it, because after a half hour or so of mumbling to myself, somebody brought over a guy I didn’t recognise. “Hey Groom, why don’t you talk to this guy… he’s fresh off the boat from Melbourne.” I lifted my head a little, and focused a bleary glaze on the newcomer. “What suburb are you from?” He looked utterly disinterested in a conversation with a soak like me, but replied nonetheless “Prahran.” “Oh really? I went to school there for a couple of years.” “Yeah, me too.” I focused on him a little more intently. There was something familiar about this guy. “What did you say your name was?” “Dave… but ah… everyone called me Dropbear.” I laughed a long, malicious laugh. “You don’t recognize me? It’s Groom, you dick! Shroom! Do you remember what you did to me in Advanced Maths?”

I berated him for about twenty minutes, fifteen years of pent up pubescent anger, outlining each of my many grievances, and being quite open about my oath of vengeance. He sat there awkwardly, a sober bystander unable to extricate himself from the ramblings of an angry drunk. Eventually he found an excuse, he was travelling with another of our high-school alumni, who he had to go meet at a different bar. As with most drunks, once it seemed like I was going to be abandoned my tone shifted. “Wait wait,” I said “I’d love to see you again while you’re here, what’s your number?” He was traveling and didn’t have a phone, but to placate me he gave me the card the hotel had given him in case he got lost. The hotel was just nearby. The card had his name and room number written in pen on the top.

Not long after Dropbear had left, one of my friends sidled over and suggested that it might be time for me to do the same, and asked whether I needed any help to travel the 200m or so to my home. I took the hint, told him to get fucked, and stumbled out into the night on my own.

Partagás Grand Pyramid 160th Aniversario Humidor, final quarter

The coffee has sweetened, the bitterness become cocoa. With two inches left, there is a sort of grassy, herbal note, some freshly mown lawn. The strength has lightened, if anything. Above all, this is a classy, classy smoke.

My apartment was right in the centre of the red-light district, where no right minded Japanese person would ever choose to live, but it suited a party-boy foreigner like me perfectly. It was a former building manager’s apartment, and occupied the entire fifth and sixth floors of the building, with floors one to three being hostess bars, and four a happy-ending massage parlour. I had a playful relationship with the massage girls, mainly Filipino women in their 40s, who would be outside the building soliciting when I came in at night. When I first started living there they would clutch my arm whisper “massagi, massagi” in my ear, but as the months went by they had gotten to know my face and realised that I wasn’t a prospective customer. Nowadays it was me, who, rambling home in the early hours with a buzz on, would yell “massagi, massagi” at them. On the night in question I encountered one of them in the elevator on my way up – my favourite one, the one who played along with my silly game the most, and dragged her all the way up the stairs and almost across the threshold of my place before she escaped back down to the parlour below.

Finally home, and nearly spent from an exhausting evening, I slid the bolt across on the door, emptied my pockets onto the hall table, undressed, and turned on the shower. The bathroom was a Japanese style wet room, with a drain on the floor and no shower enclosure to speak of. With a well-practiced hand I removed the drain grating, and slowly lay down on my side next to the hole. I began to gently throw up, my retching scarcely more violent than breathing, the peaceful release of an undigested soup of fish, squid, and prawns, cooked in a rich broth.

I had been at it maybe twenty minutes when I became aware of a pounding on my door. My house was so centrally located that it was not unusual for me to receive late night visitors, friends who didn’t want to spring for a cab home and wanted a couch to sleep on, and so I yelled out “I’m in the shower, I’ll be there in a minute” and kept on with my expulsions. The pounding continued unabated, so eventually I got up, wrapped a towel around my waist, and dripping wet threw open the door to dress down this late night caller. Standing on my doorstep was the massage girl from the elevator a few minutes earlier. She grabbed me by the arm and started to pull me down the stairs. “No, no,” I protested “I was just kidding around! I don’t want a massage!” but she continued to pull until we got to the parlor below. Five girls in bikinis and three very sheepish looking Japanese businessmen in various stages of undress stood in a circle around the center of the room where a few overflowing plastic containers were failing to hold the deluge that was pouring through the ceiling at a similar rate to my shower above. Plainly visible floating in the tubs were chunks of fish, squid, and prawns. I laughed, explained as best as I could that I understood and would stop my shower, and then went back upstairs and passed out.

I awoke around midday to find my landlady (a sweet elderly Japanese woman) and a tradesman in my kitchen. With broken English and sign language she communicated that my shower’s drainpipe had clogged and burst in the ceiling. The tradesman brought over in a bucket the clog, a ball of prawn and squid, the suckers still visible on the tentacles. She looked at me quizzically. She picked up a frying pan from the bench and gestured to it and the shower. “You wash in there?” I grinned. “No no no.” I pointed to my mouth and made the universal gesture of throwing up. She lit up with understanding. “Okay, next time…” she pointed to the toilet. I bowed. “Okay.”

Two days later I was sitting on my balcony smoking a morning cigar (it was a Trinidad Reyes, if I recall correctly) and enjoying a can of coffee when two long, black S-Class Mercedes-Benzes came up my street and double parked in front of my building, disgorging a number of large, heavily tattooed men with sunglasses. The Yakuza. Japanese gangsters. The baddest men in Japan. Although not an uncommon sight in the streets of the red light district where I lived, this was the first time I’d seen the Yaks in mine. They were met at the door by my harried looking landlady. A few minutes later she rang my bell.

She explained in her broken English that because I had thrown up in the shower, the pipe bursting was my fault, and although the insurance company would pay for the damage I would need to apologise to the owner of the property below whose business had been hurt by the incident. I mimed confusion. “Oh no” I said “it wasn’t me who threw up… it was my friend.” From the hall table I picked up a card with the address of a nearby hotel, a name and room number written in pen on the top. She took it and scurried back down the stairs.

I returned to the balcony and to my still smoldering cigar, and watched as out in the street the large men piled back into their limousines and drove off in the direction of the nearby hotel.

I never heard from Dropbear again.

The cigar finishes very nicely without tar, the tobacco never peaking above medium. A wonderful elegant finish to a first class cigar, that is on par with the 155th Anniversary, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of the 150th. In an absolute ranking I’d have to give put the 155th higher than this, but that’s mainly just because it’s older. The 160th Anniversary Grand Piramides is a great cigar, and much better than a PSD4.

Partagás Grand Pyramid 160th Aniversario Humidor nub

Partagás 160th Aniversario Humidor on the Cuban Cigar Website.

Partagás Robustos Extra 155th Anniversary Humidor

If last week’s cigar, the fantastic Partagás 150th Anniversary 109, was history, well, so is this week’s, the Partagás 155th Anniversary Robustos Extra. Where that was a snapshot of a glorious past when anniversary cigars were epics made with passion out of extinct tobaccos found after decades lost in long abandoned silos, and put to use in the making of singular, never to be repeated smokes, this represents the moment when everything started to go wrong, when the capitalists began to take over, and when everything became about money.

Partagás Robustos Extra 155th Anniversary Humidor unlit

Well, perhaps that’s a little unfair. While the release comes far too hot on the tail of the 150th for my taste (a century and a half in business is one thing, but a century and eleven twentieths?), this release is still a far cry from the slick anniversary humidors that today come at a rate of one a year. The box is a presidencial, a humidor that might have otherwise ended up as a diplomatic gift for a head of state, with a Partagás logo hastily glued on the lid, and is a far cry from the slick humidors made by international luxury brands that we see today. The band is basically a prototype for the mafia special bands that adorn so many of the unofficial production cigars that come out of the Partagás La Casa del Habano, and like them it features a large, gaudy landscape of the Partagás factory façade – for the panels on the sides someone has used the Photoshop gradient tool to good effect. Like the mafia specials, this band has not rolled of the giant, antique presses at Vrijdag in Holland, and is not made from the premium stock of the regular Habanos band. I’d say it was probably printed at the copy-shop down the road from the Partagás factory, but I don’t think that there were any copy-shops in Cuba in 2000. I’m not sure there’re any now, for that matter. Perhaps someone flew over to Mexico. Either way, there is no embossing, the gold is faded and peeled off in places, and I can clearly see the grid pattern from the Inkjet printer on the panels. It seems to have been made for the salomones size that is also found in the humidor, with no thought for how it would look on the smaller ringed cigars – the word “Cuba” is obscured by the overlap.

From the get go the cigar is much heavier than the 150th, with an early tannic bite and heavy tobacco. It quickly mellows out, with a strong coffee and bean flavour. The draw is perfect, classic Cuban. I’m sure that a fan of non-Cuban, 60 ring gage cigars (n.b.: to avoid further accusations of racism, I cast no aspersions as to where this hypothetical cigar smoker might originate from, or what rubbery treats he and his countrymen may or may not enjoy) would consider this to be completely plugged, but to me it’s perfection in a draw – it takes about the same amount of pressure as to get the smoke through this cigar as it would take you to get a McDonalds thickshake through a straw: enough to make you earn it but not so much that you hurt your jaw.

Partagás Robustos Extra 155th Anniversary Humidor one third smoked

An inch in and there is a strong, dominating cream flavour (the true mark of elegance in a cigar) over a slight, sandy earthiness. The day is a lot breezier than it was when I was enjoying the 150th, and my ash has fallen more than once, never holding on for more than five millimetres or so. I’ve managed to get a chunk on my pants. Low points for construction (I jest of course; with a perfect draw and straight burn, the construction of this cigar could not be improved upon. The low points here belong to the smoker and his inability to move a delicate object from an ashtray to his lips and back again without mishap.)

I don’t often taste nuts in a cigar, but they’re there in this one: almonds, lightly toasted. Overall this is a much fuller, stronger, and rougher cigar than its compatriot in the 150th, although that’s not to take anything away from it, as it’s still first class in every way. I wonder what five years more will do to it.

Partagás Robustos Extra 155th Anniversary Humidor final third

I don’t fully understand the process by which a big cigar remains mild until the end. Cigars essentially act as a filter for their own smoke, and just as the filter in a range hood over time becomes soaked with the evaporated oil of a thousand stir-fry dinners, three hours of smoking will drench the nub of a long cigar in oil and tar and cause it to become bitter. Except sometimes it doesn’t. While the last inch of the 155th Anniversary is not the light, practically refreshing finish that I found in the 150th, it is nonetheless very clean. I feel no desire to spit, and am not reaching for my iced-coffee any more than I have at any other point during the smoke. The age of the cigar plays a part: fifteen years in a cool dark box have caused the oils to evaporate and distil into a cleaner fuel than they were in their youth, but the lion’s share must go to the tobacco, the quality of which is unrivalled. The final notes are of grass and wet mud. The last few puffs reveal for the first time a heavy, dark cocoa. I’d love another inch to explore the flavour, but my fingers are being scorched. Despite being a little shorter than the 150th 109, this cigar took me quite a lot longer, with a smoking time of three hours forty-five.

It’s no 150th Anniversary 109, but the Partagás 155th Anniversary Robusto Extra isn’t too far off, and it’s a whole lot better than a PSD4.

Partagás Robustos Extra 155th Anniversary Humidor nub.

Partagás 155th Anniversary Humidor on the Cuban Cigar Website