The story of Partagas cigars is one of industry and innovation. Nowadays the thousands of Cuban cigar lovers who make the pilgrimage to Havana every year will almost certainly make a stop at the old Partagas factory, now home to a museum and shop, to learn more about the history of Habanos and pick up some souvenirs to take home. The scarlet red livery of the bands and boxes is famous throughout the world, and the vitolario offered to the modern market one of the most complete. Partagas cigars are famous for their full strength, the power with which they envelope the palette, and the earthy nature of their...READ MORE
The story of Partagas cigars is one of industry and innovation. Nowadays the thousands of Cuban cigar lovers who make the pilgrimage to Havana every year will almost certainly make a stop at the old Partagas factory, now home to a museum and shop, to learn more about the history of Habanos and pick up some souvenirs to take home. The scarlet red livery of the bands and boxes is famous throughout the world, and the vitolario offered to the modern market one of the most complete. Partagas cigars are famous for their full strength, the power with which they envelope the palette, and the earthy nature of their flavours. They have brought these delights to smokers for more than 175 years.
It was in 1845 that Don Jaime Partagas began construction of his factory, directly behind the Capitol building in the centre of Havana. The cigars he made there were immediately popular, due in part to the fact that Don Jaime also owned some of the best plantations in the Vuelta Abajo, and had honed an extraordinary skill for selecting the best leaves with which to roll cigars. His innovation extended to being the first to ferment his tobacco leaves, a process now ubiquitous in cigar production, and experiment with methods of aging the cured leaf to further develop their intensity and flavour.
The role of the lector in Cuban cigar culture – employed to read to the torcedores as they work – is know well-known, and the source of brand names such as Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, but it was again Don Jaime who introduced this practice. Concerned with the moral and education of his workers, he hired his first lectors in the early-1860s. It is a tradition still carried on to this day.
Sadly, the contribution of this ground-breaking industrialist was cut short in 1864, when he was murdered on one of his plantations. His son took the reigns of the family business before selling at the end of the century. Ownership changed hands frequently through the first half of the 20th century, but the brand went from strength to strength, becoming one of the highest-selling marcas on the island. After the Cuban Revolution, and subsequent nationalisation of the industry, Partagas saw its vitolario streamlined but its market share increase; today it sits behind only Montecristo in terms of total sales.
There are 24 cigars in continuous production at the new Partagas factory which wear the name of its founder, alongside many more for sister brands. All are handmade with Tripa Larga (long filler). The majority wear traditional bands bearing the medals won by the brand, but the famous ‘Alphabet Series’ have a special set of bands based on the design made in 1975 when the line was re-released.
Partagas Serie D No. 4: This is the best-seller in the Partagas catalogue. A robusto of 50 ring gauge by 4 ⅞ inches, it had been in production since the 1930s before being reissued in 1975 with its own branding. Earth, leather, black pepper and full strength are what to expect from this classic cigar.
Partagas Lusitania: A mammoth at 49 ring gauge by 7 ⅝ inches, this cigar is almost 2 hours of strength, body and flavour. Cigars this size are an event in themselves and, when they are as powerful as this one, not to be taken lightly. Smoke with a digestif on a full stomach and enjoy plenty of Partagas aromas.
Partagas Maduro No. 2: The Maduro line was introduced to general production in 2018, following a warm reception for the limited release of the Maduro No.1 a few years earlier. Every cigar has a darker wrapper leaf than normal, and all the tobacco has undergone extra fermentation to give the flavours even more intensity.
As one of the top brands worldwide, Partagas has been chosen on several occasions for Limited Edition releases. The 175th anniversary of the brand was marked in 2020 by the release of 50 stunning humidors, made in Cuba by artisans and carved out of exceptionally rare woods, and containing 50 sticks of a special size rolled for such a special occasion. More readily available – though still in limited numbers – was the Partagas Legado Edicion Limitada 2020. 48 ring gauge by 6 ⅛ inches make it a substantial smoke; the presentation in an elegant black lacquered box make it a fine collectable.
The legend of Partagas cigars is long written in the annals of Cuban cigar history, and will continue as long as that history continues to unfold. The name graces accessories, clothes, lighters, jewellery, as well as the cigars themselves, and the popularity only grows as new expressions are added to the portfolio. When hearing the tale of Don Jaime Partagas, his endeavours and inventions at the beginning of his cigar journey, one suspects the 175 years and more of success for his brand was exactly what he envisioned.
Brand Founded: 1845
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 24