EDICION LIMITADA 2012 PARTAGÁS SERIE C No.3.

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A few days ago I met a few friends at the Vancouver Cigar Company, set up a few tables, lit a few cigars and played some cards.  After standing in front of the new humidors for what felt like an eternity, I opted for the Partagas Serie C No. 3.  It was the first time I lit one of these up and wasn’t sure what to expect.  There are many Partagas cigars from Cuba with different sizes and shapes, from the full flavored Serie D No. 4 down to the slightly milder Serie P No. 2, a wonderful torpedo with a strong following.  I’m a big fan of the recent Limitadas from Partagas, their Serie D No 5 released in 2008 was, and still is, an incredibly rich, full flavored petite Robusto.  The Partagas Serie D Especial Edicion Limitada 2010 is now performing at a peak with nicely aged, three year old cigars.  With all of these Partagas Special Edition cigars doing so well, I had no reservations when reaching for the Serie C No. 3.

Since smoking this cigar, I’ve gone online and checked out a few reviews and noticed that there are mixed descriptions of this Edicion Limitada’s strength.  Some consider it to be a real powerhouse yet, and maybe this was just because of a certain box we were smoking from,  but my friends that night all were in agreement that this was a medium strength cigar.  Easy to smoke, was what I kept hearing and, I have to agree, that this cigar started it’s first third being slightly on the milder side of medium.  Right away I detected notes of hay, leather, cedar and black coffee, this was a very nice Partagas, easily keeping up with the Special Editions from recent years.  The favors intensified into the second third and became very delicious but still that easy approach appeared with every puff, it was also behaving very nicely with a steady even burn.

What struck me about the Serie C No. 3 is how good the cigar is today, it has only had a year to age but has become a cigar you can smoke and offer friends right now.  No doubt this will become a great cigar in 5 years time as well, but it is refreshing to taste something this good this young.   Cuba has recognized the enthusiasm that follows the marketing of these Special Editions and certainly put in the time and effort to produce cigars of extraordinary quality.  Its always exciting to try these double banded cigars each year as they are released.

‘Tis The Season To Place An Order

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At the end of November, those of us who are pretty good at getting Christmas shopping under way usually start giving the holiday season some thought and for the cigar lovers in our life, it couldn’t be a better time of year.  NOW is the time to order.  I know many lovers of Cuban cigars who open their Christmas gifts on an annual basis and receive wonderful boxes of Cubans which get stashed away in humidors and smoked through the year, love this time of year.  Whats not to love??   I’m thinking that the first brand to Consider would be Cohiba, and why not, Cohiba cigars are made with the finest tobacco leaves Cuba has to offer and the care in construction is second to none.

For those who are very special in your life, you may want to order something from the Behike line, some of Cohiba’s newest vitolas which come in ring gauges of 52, 54 and 56.  These cigars, which were launched in 2010, became the buzz with smokers world wide and then smoke shops had a lot of difficulty keeping them in stock.  The dust has settled, production is consistent and now more and more cigar smokers can tell you tales of their “first Behike” with great adoration.

Partagas, a Cuban cigar brand established in 1845 is one of the world’s most popular Cuban cigar choices with many cigars in all sizes.  Speak to anyone who smokes Partagas and they’ll tell you that, although they love Cuban tobacco, they’ll opt for this brand every time.  If you know someone who wants a special occasion cigar, order a few Partagas Lusitanias, rich rich tobacco flavor with notes of wonderful dark chocolate, cedar and espresso which pairs up beautifully with Rum, a single malt Scotch or an after dinner Cappuccino.

Montecristo, yet another old Cuban brand, has a reputation as being one of the classic Cuban cigar choices for Aficionados who love a full flavored cigar any time of day.  Consider ordering the Montecristo No. 4, arguably the world’s most popular cigar for someone who only has an hour or under of smoking time or maybe the Montecristo No. 2, a torpedo shaped masterpiece which is the standard in the Montecristo brand.

Romeo y Julieta, named after Shakespeare’s love story is another great choice to give at Christmas.  The Romeo Churchill could very well be the cigar that smokers think of first when that brand is mentioned.  An incredible complex and easy to smoke cigar that has become very consistent in years past.  Strict attention is spent on construction and those who love these longer cigars always have them in stock.  As you age this cigar you get rewarded with wonderful flavors of cedar and coffee.

With so many choices to consider when ordering loved ones Cuban cigars, read through the different brand descriptions here in the Vancouver Cigar Company’s site and pick for yourself what you believe may be right for you and the cigar smoker in your life.

Partagas Serie P No.2

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When deciding which Cuban cigars to buy, there are a lot of factors that should be considered.  I try to keep my humidors balanced with cigars that I smoke at different times of the day so I try to stock up on many cigars with different strengths, varied flavors and of course I stop in at “Cigar Aficionado” to see how they’ve rated last year’s top 25 cigars ( this cigar earned their # 4 spot for 2011 ).  The cigar in the above picture is a Partagas Serie P No.2 that was purchased in the spring at The Vancouver Cigar Company.  The box code was OGA Nov 11, so this was a younger cigar that had been sitting in the humidor for about 5 or 6 months.  It seemed like a good enough time as any to light the first one so on a road trip with a buddy, I clipped the cap, torched the foot and let the games begin.

In my humble opinion, the biggest taste difference between Cuban and Non-Cuban is muskiness.  Non-Cubans that I’ve smoked seem to taste a bit sharper and can come at you with a Katana edge of attitude and relentlessness that keeps you wondering if you should install a gentle steam machine in the corner of your man cave you can hang your head in front of which will help you curtail the burning sensation in your sinuses as you smoke these lower priced alternatives.  There are so many theories concerning the reasons why Cubans seem to be easier to enjoy and are have a softer and more gentle greeting to the senses but we’ve gone through this before and certainly a topic that could take paragraphs to cover.

The reason why I felt it was necessary to mention the comparison between Cubans and Non-Cubans was because as soon as I started smoking this Partagas, I was met with some of the sweetest Cuban tobacco smoke I can remember.  From time to time I’ve smoked P 2’s that thrilled me with their balance and variance of flavor that left me wondering why they don’t get an annual number 1 rating, but this cigar rolled at the end of last year, still needed some time to ferment and come into it’s own.  It didn’t make for an unpleasant experience, I feel that learning how a cigar can taste as it travels through it’s journey from young to vintage can only help us to get to know more about the complexities of tobacco’s fermentation in a humidor.  Ain’t life grand!

Instead of the usual white pepper that I often taste with this Piramides, I was met with a soft earthiness and sweet toasted tobacco that was accentuated with cedars and cream for the majority of the cigar.  Evolution of flavors were more subtle from third to third, which I attributed to the cigar’s youth.  One, which is more mature, will give you the roller coaster of flavors we all love in a quality Cuban such as this but even as I smoked this cigar at the beginning of the day, I found that I had made the right choice when pairing it with coffee, cream and sugar as we drove down the road.

The Tease Is Over… Partagas Serie E No. 2… Available In Canada

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I was at a gathering of cigar smokers last night where the Partagas Serie E No 2 was handed out and smoked by many of Vancouver’s Aficionados.  EVERYONE was impressed with Habanos’ new release from Partagas and, although a young cigar, the new Duke ( factory name ) performed like a cigar that had been sitting in a humidor for a few years.  One question I asked everyone was whether or not this tasted like a young cigar, to which no one gave me an affirmative. Balance was the first word used to describe this 54 ring gauge, 5 1/2 inch cigar that had no one flavor jumping to the forefront.  Strength with subtlety, which must be very difficult to attain, was most used when those in attendance described their smoking experience of this new release.

A lot of people were comparing the Serie E No 2 to last year’s Partagas Serie D Especial Edicion Limitada 2010 and this is really what we want to see Cuba give cigar smokers around the globe, a cigar going into regular production that mirrors the flavor and experience of a special edition cigar.  Being able to stop by a cigar shop and have something this special on a regular basis is what we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of 2011, when this cigar was presented at the Habanos Festival in Havana.

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A new innovation in the packaging of this year’s release is a flap that is used to separate the cigars  in the unvarnished box and a lithographed piece of paper on the box’s exterior to make the identification of this series more identifiable in cigar shops.

Whats most exciting is the fact that this cigar tastes great today and will only get better as they age, which I predict could make this larger ring gauge cigar a big seller for Partagas and a staple in humidors world wide.

Partagas Serie D No 5 For 2011

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The world of cigar aficionados is always interested in new and exciting developments from Havana in how it gives all of us new cigars to smoke each year.  Some cigars brands are a big big hit like Cohiba and when you have cigars that are made from the first pick of all of the tobacco in Cuba, it doesn’t take long to understand why you’ll have a gigantic success story on  your hands, a simple taste of these great cigars will solidify your belief in their superior product with the black and yellow bands.

The same can be said for Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Trinidad and many others too numerous to mention but today we’ll be directing our attention towards Partagas and their new cigar for 2011, the Partagas Serie D No 5.  Once again we’ll be getting a smaller cigar with a burn time that is more suited for today’s busy smoker but if the 2008 Serie D No 5 is any indication as to how this year’s new Partagas performs then we’ll be tasting a fantastic cigar that will satisfy any smoker that enjoys the Partagas flavor profile.

This new “Petit Robusto” from Partagas is 4.3 inches long and has a ring gauge of 50 which, if you take your time and smoke slowly, should last over an hour.  The thing I love about shorter cigar is that as they burn down they stay smoother and less harsh than their longer cousins… Less time- less tar build-up and a tastier cigar in the final third.  The first year that the 2008 Serie D No 5 from Partagas came out, didn’t see a lot of attention and there were reviews I read that didn’t give the cigar a real thumbs up but a few years in the humidor revealed a cigar that was of world class taste and performance.  The ’08 became complex and balanced which gives me cause to believe that we may be seeing the new 2011 addition needing a few years to settle own and come into it’s own.

Either way, young or aged, I am looking forward to tasting this new Partagas, stocking up on a few to place at the bottom of my humidor, and waiting a while.. It’s always a fun experiment and sometimes you can have treasure stockpiling in your perfect cigar resting place.

A Very Pretty Churchill

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Yesterday, as I was leaving for a round of golf, my friends were frantically honking their horn outside as I ran to the humidor to get a cigar for the day on the course.  I can slightly remember thinking that the one I chose was a good looking cigar but other things were on my mind, like my torch, my golf shoes, my cigar cutter, my lucky golf cap, my lucky green repair tool, my cel phone, my wallet and the keys.  Everything in place, I locked up, loaded the clubs into their car and avoided all of the harassment they were giving me about making them wait the whole 1 1/2 minutes all of that took.

We teed off at 3:40 PM which meant that we got a nice price for twilight and the round was progressing nicely but the wind was blustering on the front nine so I decided to light the cigar on the back nine when things quieted down a bit.. Sure enough, the wind subsided and on 11 I pulled the cigar out.  This is a bundle cigar from the Partagas factory but something seemed a bit odd about it’s construction… It was perfect in every way !! Now that’s a bold statement if I ever heard one but as I kept looking at this Churchill, I was becoming more and more entranced on it’s sheer beauty.. It reminded me of the Cohiba Bekihe 52 I smoked last year in that the wrapper, which was slightly redder than the Cohiba, was perfect as was the meticulously applied triple cap.  There was a smoothness to the look of the cigar and I felt compelled to take a picture of it with my cel phone ( not the greatest camera BTW ) in the setting sunlight.

I felt bad that I had selected this cigar for a day of golf, this would have been better suited for a long drive in the car but maybe smoking a Churchill with buddies on the course is not really a bad choice.  My game sagged a bit on the back nine because of the fact that I was distracted a bit with this cigar so I lost a few bucks but what a great evening….  The cigar burned slowly, I took my time and actually lasted for the rest of the round… I even felt compelled to take a quick shot of the last inch after I got home..

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Partagas 165 Pre-Release

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Now and then you run into a cigar that is difficult to acquire and then the question is, do I smoke it or hang on to it forever.  Well, I was lucky in that I was able to get my hands on a few of these and decided to smoke one right away and hang on to the other.  A friend of mine was in Havana last November and attended the Dinner that was given to launch the Partagas 165 Aniversario.  That night many cigars were given out, some with bands like the one in the picture and many that were un-banded.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on both.

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Since my Spanish is non-existent, I had to look up on the ‘net what Encuentro meant and I got Encounter, which tells me that, like my buddy said, these were handed out to friends of Partagas.  Hmmmm, I’m guessing that these are rare indeed.. Well, let’s get down to the cigar and how it tasted..

The size of the cigar was very close to a Churchill and so I’m guessing that it was around 6 1/2 inches long and about a 47 ring gauge.  Nice reddish brown wrapper and gave off the most wonderful barnyard smell.  The first few puffs told me that this was a young cigar with a whole lot of spice and continued like that for about the first inch or so, but settled down to a smaller amount of spice and more of a balance of cedar and hay as the cigar burned down.  This one will need at least 6 more months in the humidor to lose a bit of it’s youth.

As I smoked, I was a bit confused about the profile because nothing about this one reminded me of any Partagas cigar I’ve had yet.  What I really kept thinking was that I was tasting a Bolivar Belicosos Finos, which made a lot of sense because Bolivar is rolled in the partagas factory.  Hmmmm, quite puzzling but very very tasty and very much the Bolivar spiciness that we get from that shorter torpedo.

I’m very happy to have these cigars and will be hanging on to them for a while but if any of you can shed any light on this cigar, I’d really love it if you could leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.. Thanks.

Partagas Serie D No 5 Edicion Limitada

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The picture above reveals that its late afternoon and I’m sitting in a car, enjoying a great cigar after a day of golf.  Well, there is no real golf reference in the shot, you’ll simply have to trust me on this one.  I’m a big lover of smoking in the car and tend to choose my best cigars for this environment so opting for the Partagas Serie D No 5 from 2008 was a great choice.

I’ve smoked a few of these in the last few years and have noticed that it’s profile, although a bit similar to the Partagas Series D No 4, is complex, super sweet and has no shortage of strength.  I’ve smoked boxes of the “D 4” and many others in the Partagas brand and have noticed a similarity in taste with a lot of the different sizes but this particular D 5 may have been one of the best Partagas cigars I’ve ever had the pleasure to smoke.  The beautiful, almost Maduro wrapper gave this cigar an unusual sweetness that stayed with the cigar until the end.  I employed a lot of patience and waited a lifetime between puffs and was rewarded with a rich rich dark chocolate with sweet strong espresso notes from start to finish.   I’m not convinced that there was a great evolution of flavors as this cigar burned but the quality of flavors more than made up for it… Very delicious !!

I’ve paid a lot of attention to the different reviews that this cigar has received since it was produced and it’s gotten it’s fair share of less than stellar reviews.  Why?? Don’t ask me !!  I’ve found that the years have been extra good to this Petit Robusto with it’s 50 ring gauge and length of 4.3 inches.  A lot can happen to a cigar in a humidor for 3 years and this particular stogie has developed into a real contender and one that will leave you wishing you had many more.  The fact that it is a bit shorter than a lot of cigars I smoke also led me to believe that as the cigar burned down, bitterness never entered into the picture and was very tasty well into the final millimeters.

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An even burn, great draw and an explosion of rich dark flavors left me satisfied and thrilled with the thoughts of lighting one up again …….. in the car….

Partagas …Super Partagas

supart So last week I spent a few days in Nanaimo on beautiful Vancouver Island.  Anyone visiting Vancouver for the first time should always make the effort to take the ferry over to the Island on our west coast.  The capital city of our province is NOT Vancouver but Victoria, which is on the island and it is a very clean manicured city with stately homes, sunshine and a great university. Nanaimo is about an hour’s drive away and has great scenery and a thriving art and music scene.

I am always curious about what different cigar and smoke shops carry whenever I travel in Canada, so a few days ago I stopped into a small smoke shop and spotted a Humidor with Cuban cigars proudly displayed, which always gets me excited.  I found that the shop had the usual suspects of Montecristo No 2’s and number 4’s.. A few different sizes of H. Upmanns and Cohibas were also present but what got my attention was a box of “Cremas”, wrapped in cellophane and sitting on the top shelf.

The first thing I did was look at the side of the Partagas box and saw that these were Partagas Super Partagas cigars with slightly yellowed cellophane so I instantly went for the box and examined the bottom.  ’01 was all I needed to see so I chose a few and bolted out of the store, ran for my car and rummaged through my luggage for my cigar cutter and torch.  Since I was on my way out of town, I knew that I would have some driving time to try out one of these aged beauties and I couldn’t wait for the first puff.

I don’t know that much about the “Super Partagas” and really haven’t smoked that many, so I didn’t really have a reference point but upon lighting the cigar I noticed one thing right away, the 10 years in the humidor mellowed this Cremas ( ring gauge 40 and 5 1/2 ” ) and I was initially met with slight cedar and creamy coffee.  Simple would be the first word I’d pick when trying to describe the profile of this cigar since there wasn’t a ton of complexity here but I was very impressed with the elegance of the moment and the building of strength as the cigar burned down.

I can’t stress enough, the importance of checking the date stamped on the bottom of Cuban cigar boxes whenever you find yourself in a cigar store as you shop for a smoke.  Now and then you will discover that there are real treasures to be found if you look carefully and I felt that I had come across something special with the Super Partagas. Any cigar that has been kept in a humidor for a decade will only improve and evolve into a fine smoke.. It just takes patience, or in my case, good luck!

Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas VS Partagas Lusitanias

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When driving through the mountains in Alberta, Canada just outside of the small town of Banff but still well in Canada’s National Park on July 2, 2011, I thought of a great pair of cigars to light up with my friend Tom.  We were driving from Calgary to Vancouver that morning and since we had quite a few hours together in his car that day, I thought that comparing 2 incredible Prominentes from 2 of Cuba’s more well known cigar brands, Hoyo de Monterrey and Partagas.

I clipped and handed the Lusitanias to Tom and I then proceeded to clip the HDM Double Coronas for myself… It was a very even decision concerning which cigars either of us wanted since these 2 cigars both stand proudly in their brand as a popular seller with those who like bigger cigars, these being both a 49 ring gauge and  7.6 inches long…. I knew the next few hours driving down the road would be very entertaining, informative and hugely satisfying.

The first difference I noticed was the draw and that the Lusitanias gave a bit more resistance than the HDM but the Partagas was a year or so newer and slightly more tightly rolled, no problem though.  The first puff from both cigars were not strong at all and almost instantly mellowed and provided a medium strength smoke into the first third… The flavor profile couldn’t have been more different in that the Lusitanias was considerably more of a sweeter smoke at this stage and the Double Coronas from HDM was a woodier profile… Both Tom and myself were trying to identify different flavors in both cigars but it became clear that the more complex profile belonged to the Lusitanias and trying to describe all that we were tasting in that cigar became difficult because of our different palates…

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I smoked the HDM happily for the next few hours and saw the flavors subtly change from third to third as this Prominente proceeded to gain power and strength… The Partagas was equally as entertaining but kept that initial sweetness we noticed for the length of the cigar’s burn… That is what is so marvelous about Partagas, it builds in strength but stays smooth and flavorful without ever getting bitter or hard to smoke… The HDM Double Coronas was one of those cigars that you hated to see burn away because of the elegance of the moment.

Driving in your car down the road gives you the best opportunity to smoke in a controlled environment where time goes easily by and you get a real accurate glimpse of what cigar makers want you to taste… Cars are warm, you have control of how much wind ( if any ) you want and the only danger is dropping ashes on your clothes…. Hey, its only a car!