At Swiss Cuban Cigars, we like to review specific brands of Cuban cigar, to give our customers as much information as possible for their buying decisions.
We also find the history of Cuban cigars extremely compelling, and finding out the stories behind each brand. This blog looks at one of the oldest Cuban cigar brands – Partagas. It’s been around since 1845 when it was established in Havana, Cuba and today its bestselling cigar is the Partagas Lusitanias.
The history and development of Partagas Cuban cigars
As well as the history of the Partagas brand, we will also review the smoking experience and see what some of our customers think of the brand’s cigars.
It all started with Don Jaime Partagas y Ravell, who moved to Cuba back in 1831. Originally, he worked for someone else, but started his own Cuban cigar factory in 1845 – called La Flor de Tabacas de Partagas.
Partagas owned a number of tobacco plantations in the prime growing area in Cuba – Vuelta Abajo. His ability to discern which tobaccos were the best on the island, along with his knowledge of fermentation and blending tobacco, soon made his brand of Cuban cigar very popular.
According to Cuban cigar legend, Partagas was the first person to think of hiring lectors to read to the men as they rolled cigars in his factory. This rapidly caught on throughout the industry and became a standard.
Partagas after Don Jaime’s death
The good times were not set to last forever for Don Jaime, and he was actually murdered by a on one of his own tobacco plantations in 1868. His brand of cigars passed to his son, Jose Partagas. A few years later the brand was sold on to Jose A Bances, a well known banker in Cuba.
By the end of the 19th century, Bances had partnered with a super successful tobacco merchant Ramon Cifuentes Llano. Bances soon bowed out all together, selling his shares to Llano. Various partnerships and iterations later, in 1916, Llano partnered with Francisco Pita to form a company called Cifuentes, Pego y Cia.
By the 1930s, they were producing the Cifuentes brand and a decade later the company was renamed Cifuentes y Cia. In the 1950s, the firm bought the La Gloria Cubana and Bolivar rands and by 1960 the Partagas factory was exporting a quarter of Cuba’s tobacco goods.
Revolution and beyond
It was in 1960, of course, that Castro seized the Government and along with it all the Cuban cigar factories in the country.
Castro decided to keep the Partagas brand under the state’s control, initially by Cubatobaco and much later by Habanos SA.
Governments have come and gone since Partagas started, but both before and after the Cuban Revolution, the brand has always been one of the best-sellers in Cuba.
By 1995, Partagas was the second most profitable Cuban cigar brand and was selling around 10 million every year. The old Havana-based factory was renamed Francisco Perez German before production was relocated to Havana Vieja in 2012.
Today, a new factory manufactures most of the Partagas vitolas and they are all hand-made.
Partagas brand vitolas
Every year since 2000, Partagas has launched a limited edition starting with the Piramide. The current range of hand-made Cuban cigars includes (but is not limited to):
- 898 Cabinet Selección Varnished (Lonsdale – 6.75 inches with a gauge of 43).
- Aristocrat (petit corona – 51⁄8 inches with a gauge of 40).
- Corona Junior (petit corona – 45⁄8 inches with a gauge of 40).
- Corona Senior (corona – 5.25 inches with a gauge of 42).
- Culebras (culebra – 5.75 inches with a gauge of 39).
- Lusitania (double corona – 75⁄8 inches with a gauge of 49).
- Mille Fleurs (petit corona – 51⁄8 inches with a gauge of 42).
- Princess (short panatela – 5 inches with a gauge of 35).
- Serie D No. 4 (robusto – 47⁄8 inches with a gauge of 50).
Swiss Cuban Cigars review the Partagas Lusitanias smoking experience
To give an idea of what it’s like to enjoy a Partagas Cuban cigar, we’ll look at the Partagas Lusitanias Double Corona, which is 7.6 inches long and has a ring gauge of 49.
It’s a full strength cigar that needs around three hours of smoking time to fully appreciate its flavour profile. Partagas shifted its tobacco mix across all of its cigars in the mid-1990s.
This newer blend is tobacco harvested exclusively from the Vuelta Abajo zone in Cuba. Among the very finest cigars to be exported from Cuba, Partagas Lusitanias use only the finest wrapper leaves.
Despite the shortage of these in Cuba, Partagas continues to manufacture the highest quality cigars, beautifully wrapped in ligero leaves.
Leave the Partagas Lusitanias for five years for the best smoking experience
We recommend ageing of Partagas Cuban cigars, as it brings out the depth of the flavours. Generally a lighter to mid-bodied smoke, in our opinion the Lusitanias needs around five years before it develops the complex flavour profile cigar aficionados love so much.
And they really do love these cigars with one customer saying: “Rated top five of my private collections. Marvellous, big and beautiful smokes. Very flavorful, smooth and full of a wonderful aroma.”