Partagas Black Clasico
When I was working up north and fleeing to FL for the off-season, I used to make the long drive south on I-95. The only thing to look forward to during the mind-numbing trek was a stop at the JR Cigars Outlet/Tourist Trap in NC. I’d load up on cheap cigarettes to last the winter and hope to find a nice box of closeouts.
I occasionally found something unexpected, like five year-old JR Ultimate MMs. But as often as not, I’d just grab something that caught my eye. That’s how I acquired my box of Partagas Black Clasicos in late 2004.
I had previously smoked a few Blacks and was intrigued. They had all the makings of a superb smoke but lacked balance. So the idea behind the buy was to see if a lie-down could bring the Black’s flavor components into line. I had high hopes.
The 5.5″ x 54 Clasico looks crude. The
medio tiempo CT Broadleaf CT sungrown Havana-seed “Medio Tiempo” wrapper is thick and veiny with colors ranging from chocolate brown to black. About half the caps are sloppily applied. But CTBL always looks tasty to me despite its flaws.
(Note: It was pointed out by an alert Cigarfan that despite appearances, the wrapper is not a late-priming Broadleaf, but is borne of a Cuban seed. Thanks for the heads-up.)
It has a distinct licorice note from the start. Black pepper is evident, but not as dominant as when these were fresh. The semisweet finish is on the long side. A nice molasses note creeps after about five minutes. It’s strong and the flavors are dense, but the balance is good. It continues in this fashion for the first third.
Approaching halfway, the molasses and licorice recede as sharp peppercorn and charred wood take over. (Retrohaling at this point is a bad idea.) There are sweetened coffee and chocolate notes, but past halfway all nuance is shouted down by the pepper and wood.
The flavor components are all interesting. I feel as if I should like this smoke. But as the power increases, the balance wanes.
By 40 minutes in, the Clasico is a chore. After a few minutes more, I’ve had my fill.
I should note I’m in the minority on the Partagas Black line. Patrick A. gave it four stogies, Jerry used to go through a box of these per week, Jesse likes ‘em, as does Stinkie. Only ColbyPants and Cigarfan had beefs. So I could be wrong…
CONCLUSION: I gambled on the aging prospects of the Partagas Black Clasico and lost. Despite ample time, it falls into the JdN Antano category for me — too ballsy for its own good. The Clasico has more character than the Antano, but it’s a demanding smoke. The build is fine and the price is fair enough ($4.00 per stick). But the LGC Maduro (Miami) and the El Original Maduro are vastly superior renderings of the same concept.