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Partagás Lusitanias

Partagás Lusitanias 1September 29th, 2016

Cigar: Partagás Lusitanias
Code: ECA JUL 02
Format: Prominentes (Double Corona)
Size: 194mm (7.625 inches) x 49 ring gauge
Date smoked: 09/11/2016

The Lusitanias owes its name to the ill-fated RMS Lusitania, the British luxury ocean liner sunk by a German U-Boat during WW I.* On May 7th, 1915, while en-route from New York to Liverpool, England, the Lusitania was hit by an exploding torpedo off the coast of Ireland, and sank in a scant 20 minutes. 1,100 of the 1,900 passengers and crew perished that day, including 120 Americans. Though it would take another two years before the US officially entered WW I, the sinking of the Lusitania played a key role in turning public opinion against Germany, both in the US and around the world.

The Partagás Lusitanias are available in 25-count dress boxes (which is where this specimen originated) and in 50-count cabinets. 10-count dress boxes were introduced in 2006.

The cold draw of my sample was perfect, though dispatching little taste or aroma at this stage. The fire from my torch lighter quickly formed a nice cherry at the foot of the cigar, and the episode was on.

Early on, the flavor was mild, with some sweet pepper and cedar, while the aroma and smoke volume were notably light. But within an inch or so, the character of the cigar was enriched by a big dose of earth, rich toasted tobacco and creamy smoothness.

Partagás Lusitanias 2

As the first third gave way to the second, the distinct Cuban twang I so covet came out in spades. A marvelous aroma of rich loamy earth, along with that intoxicating barnyard tone that is so elusive in modern Cuban cigars, developed.

There were flowery and sweet spice undertones that gave this cigar a creamy flavor and made it stand out, as much for its uniqueness as for its balance of everything that is good in Cuban tobacco of this pedigree. Indeed, the Lusitanias was so captivating that I virtually tuned out the Packers and Jaguars football game I was following.

Though not overly complex, this cigar had such a pleasing character, full of rich flavors and aromas. I was struck by how well measured and balanced the blend was, and by how expertly the cigar was rolled. Although it went out on me a couple of times (which I attribute mostly to my wine-a-dor being a tad too humid from the hot and humid summer), I was still in awe of the superior tobaccos that were used in its making. The Partagás was a shining example of the expertise possessed by the farmers, blenders and rollers of this great cigar.

Partagás Lusitanias 3Smoking past the mid-section, I was little surprised that, even after 14 years of nap time, this cigar had lost none of its medium-bodied flavor, and managed to gracefully improve in smoothness and richness.

As the fans whirred overhead, doing their best to move the saturated air, I was fixated on what clearly was a memorable smoking experience. Although I had to keep a rag nearby to wipe my brow, nothing could deter me from savoring the intoxicating aroma and smooth, creamy flavor. The only break I permitted myself was a brief moment to cool off, as I fetched a bottle of Zephyrhills sparkling water to dampen my palate.

In the final third, the cigar started to exhibit a bit more spice and a hint of black pepper in the finish that tingled my tongue, but not in a distracting manner. The flavor and aroma remained remarkably consistent throughout the cigar.

Turning my attention back to the game, the Packers pulled out a win by the skin of their teeth prior to my hapless Dolphins taking to the field in Seattle.

As I savored the last couple of inches of this magnificent cigar, essence of sweet pepper, cumin, basil and rich earth dominate the forefront, while nuances of cookie dough, vanilla and smoldering sweet wood added to the masterful creamy balance. The cigar was so enjoyable that it had completely diverted my attention from football – I was just noticing the Seahawks were up by 3 as the Dolphins tied it up. Finally, at the halftime break in the game, I laid the last inch and a half to rest in the ash tray.

I was worried when I first sparked this large, impressive and somewhat intimidating vitola, because the temperature outside in the shade was over 90ºF and the humidity was so thick you could almost spread it with a knife. But once the Lusitanias got rolling, it took hold of me and held me captive throughout the 2-plus hours it would take me to finish it.

A week after smoking a truly outstanding 1999 Partagás Lonsdale, which I deemed near perfect but for some niggling burn issues, this Lusitanias gave the Lonsdale a serious run for the title of the best Partagás I’ve lit up – ever! These two cigars were very different. The Lonsdale demonstrated a complex, multi-layered flavor profile with a uniquely sweet and flowery aroma. But the Lusitanias really brought it on with smoothness and cream like no other.

With the demise of the Lonsdale (since 2002), I’ll now confirm the Lusitanias as the standing flagship of the Partagás brand. And I think mine is a sentiment shared by many. It is a testament to the pride and dedication of the Cuban people who poured their souls into it.

It has been said that you don't truly know how good a Cuban cigar can be until you've smoked a Partagás Lusitanias at its best. I can certainly vouch for that statement. This cigar is a classic example of the best Cuba has to offer – a 9.5 out of 10 on my personal scale, and an experience I will truly look forward to again – soon!

In closing, I wish to honor the souls of those who fell 15 years ago in the 9/11 attacks. May God have mercy and welcome them into the Kingdom of Heaven.
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Phil Cutajar (solomr2) is a longtime member and contributor to the Cigar Weekly forums.
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*Editor’s Note: Although it’s commonly thought that the Partagás Lusitanias is named after the RMS Lusitania, Min Ron Nee has stated in his An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars (published by Interpro Business Corporation, Hong Kong in January of 2003 – information gathered from page 325) that, “The link of the cigar to the ship is based on circumstantial evidence only.” Mr. Nee’s Honorary Consultant for the book, Adriano Martínez Ruis, goes on to say that no documentation exists in the Partagás Factory regarding any possible name link between cigar and ship. The ‘mystery’ apparently lives on!