Partagás D No.6

As a devotee of history, Cuban cigars and their chronicles do not disappoint. Flor de Tabacos de Partagás (its full name), has to be one of the most interesting of the Cuban cigar marques. Founded by the Catalan Don Jaime Partagás Ravelo in 1827, its success due in part to his ownership of many of the best vegas finas in the Vuelta Abajo region, culminated in the construction of its famous (and for the time, very large) factory in 1845 which still stands to this day behind the Capitol building in Havana. Don Jaime is accredited to be one of the earliest pioneers of innovation in cigar production, having explored the fermentation and ageing of the tobaccos rather than undiscerningly relying on customary techniques. Unfortunately for Don Jaime, his luck ran out in 1868 when he was shot and mortally wounded in one of his plantations for reasons that have never been clear; rumours the slaying being revenge for his extramarital amorous activities.

Production stopped inside the factory itself for long-due renovation to this iconic and arguably best known cigar factory in early-2012 and has not yet been completed. Notwithstanding, the Partagás Factory Casa del Habano store remains open and is certainly one of the best in Havana.

The publicity images of the Partagás Serie D No.6 during the Festival del Habano XVI in February 2014 did not in my view warrant interest befitting for the brand. At 90mm long, it looks akin to a cigar like a D No.4 (robusto, 124mm) that has been cut partly through smoking to finish later, (Cubans depreciatingly call this a “cabo de tabaco” – literally ‘stub of tobacco’). Surely, the D No.5 (petit robusto, 110mm), would be satisfying for a cigar lover yearning for a full flavoured, strong cigar that didn’t take more than 30 minutes to smoke? Furthermore, at £13.50 each for a D No.6 in the UK, a few pounds more for its aforementioned elder brother would make its market placing an unlikely commercial success.

Even so, I took the plunge and sampled one to decide for myself. For variation, I decided to enjoy the Habano with an afternoon Nespresso Arpeggio capsule which has the strength of a dark roast Arabica coffee to match the full-flavoured classification of the Partagás, whilst having a creamy texture to counteract the spiciness of the latter. With a hint of spice thinly veiled by an earthiness akin to a recently produced D No.4 robusto present on the pre-light draw, I knew there would be strength to this cigar and it didn’t disappoint.

The spice was certainly there, accompanied with an astringent woodiness at the back of the palate in the first few puffs. The Arpeggio espresso thankfully counteracts this well, with its intense body enhanced by cocoa notes. However, this does not suggest that any lower quality tripa larga tobacco has been used, if compared to the larger vitolas in the Partagás range; merely its expected youth is being conveyed.

With the first third of the cigar over whilst forming a consistent ash, the Arpeggio also happens to be finished. Therefore, I seize the opportunity to test the Decaffeinato version of the Arpeggio to verify its comparison to the original. The difference is noticeable, as is that of a non-alcoholic beer with its genuine kin, but it mercifully still measures up to the intensity of the Habano. The second third brings some more flavour but the earthiness of its youth still pervades. With only a couple of touch-ups and very good combustibility shown, the final third steps up the peppery character along with a particularly astringent woodiness and more black-pepper spice on the retrohale.

In summation, the quality of the tobacco was there, but with such little length to the cigar, the complexity was shackled to abort prematurely. This would not be an Habano of choice for me in the future, as I solely enjoy Partagás in the evening after a hearty dinner and would much prefer a vitola larger than even a robusto, with its added complexity. If I was constrained for time and the only full-flavoured cigar available was a D No.6, I would much prefer to practice patience until I could enjoy the full aromatic depth and unrestrained complexity of a bigger and preferably aged, alternative. Therefore, I suggest that only those passionados truly limited to 20-25 minutes of smoking time may enjoy this size with its voluminous smoke, along with the noble intention to avoid the waste of any precious Cuban tobacco.

Tasting notes and details:

Partagás D No.6

Factory NameNo.6 (totally new vitola)

Size50 x 3.5”  (19.84 x 90)mm

Box code and dateRAE  NOV14

Wrapper – Smooth, colorado capa with a glimpse of oiliness present.

Draw – compact to the touch (properly filled with tripa larga) but very good. Pre-light notes of some subtle spice and a hint of earthiness indicating its youth.

First third – Clearly a spicy Partagás blend with a hint more earthiness, like that of a young D Series vitola.

Second third – With more woodiness and earthy aromas, there is continuation of the strong flavour.

Last third – The astringent qualities pique and spice is even clearer on the retrohale. Complexity is clearly lacking.

PairingNespresso – Arpeggio capsule. With robust dark roast Arabica beans and creamy body, this pairs well as an espresso with the diminutive D No.6. The Decaffeinato version of the Arpeggio still works, but it does have a slightly more acidic finish compared to the original. Even so, it is a good replacement if there is concern for overindulging in caffeine.

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© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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