Cigar reviews, news and ramblings by Kevin
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Partagas Black Clasico

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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.

SCORE: 83

4 comments

1 lucky7 { 07.21.08 at 4:50 pm }

Sounds like something to mow the lawn with.

Never had the Partagas but that is what I use the JdN Antano for.

2 cigarfan { 07.21.08 at 5:49 pm }

I think the wrapper on the Partagas Black is actually Cuban seed, not broadleaf. I think they actually call the varietal “Medio Tiempo” (which is confusing because medio tiempo is also a priming on the plant.) But in any case, it sucks. :) But obviously persons of distinguished taste (allegedly) enjoy this cigar, so I won’t detail my loathing.

3 Kevin { 07.21.08 at 6:16 pm }

Interesting, and thanks for clarification. I’ll check it out further and fix it. I ran across that info somewhere and never thought to question it since it looks and even tastes like BL. Now that I ponder it, it looks like a Topper! (Do they still make those???)

When poking around, I was surprised that these are revered. I’m at peace with the first half, however. If I sit them another four years, maybe the whole smoke will be decent?

4 ironmeden { 07.24.08 at 7:19 pm }

ahhh yes, the cigar that really pulled me into cigar smoking was the Partagas Black. A delicious cigar and always a great cigar to fall back on.

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