One of Cuba‘s oldest and most revered brands, Partagas was born in 1827 by Don Jaime Partagas. Back then he didn’t brand his cigars Partagas, and it wasn’t until 1845 before he named his cigars after himself. I’ve been told that Partagas cigars are amongst the strongest, most full bodied of all Cuban brands. I kept this in mind as i made my selection at the Havana Club a few nights ago – i decided to try something small, the Partagas Shorts (RM28).

This is a small cigar, slightly smaller than petit corona sized. It feels quite firm to the touch, with a healthy oily sheen to the wrapper. The scent test was a bit of a let down: for a cigar with a full bodied reputation, the tobacco didn’t smell very aromatic. I took a few deep breaths from the foot of the cigar, and the floral tobacco scent barely tickled my senses.

Lighting it was a straightforward delight – very few things in the enjoyment of cigars are more pleasing that the thick first few draws that comes from a just-lighted premium cigar. The initial draws were marked by incredibly thick, volumnious smoke – quite amazing given the relatively small size of this cigar.

And it wasn’t just a whole lot of smoke – it was very, very flavourful, and very, very strong on the palate. Almost immediately, there was a sharp, though strangely pleasant, sting on my palate as the nutty and earthy smoke washed over it. This cigar is certainly not for the uninitiated novice – it requires a clear mind and a full stomach to really appreciate. By half way through, i was on the wave of a substantial nicotine “high” – my body felt like jelly and my head was buzzing pleasurably.

Its a good thing i had a strong cup of hot mint tea with liberal amounts of honey (one of my favourite drinks with a cigar) on hand, so this helped clean the palate every once in a while. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a bad smoke, its just that because of its strength and “punch”, it certainly isn’t for everyone or as an anytime smoke. A cigar like this is meant to be smoked in the quiet comfort of a luxurious leather chair or sofa, with absolutely nothing on your mind except the basic pleasure of the cigar.

Verdict: I can imagine why so many people like this cigar and the Partagas brand. Its strength and flavour are certainly unmatched by anything i’ve had before. Is it for me? Perhaps not. It’ll be a while before i dare take on another!