If there an award for the most reviewed cigar here on My Cigar Blog, the Partagas Serie D No. 4 (PSD4) would win it. Nearly 10 years ago, when i started smoking cigars, the PSD4 was one of the first robustos i had, and since then, my love affair with this cigar has been a burning passion. I come back to the PSD4 very often, and i’ve seen how the years have taken a toll on this magnificent cigar.

While 2010 was very kind to most brands, i think it was harsh on some particular cigars. The Montecristo #4s have been very inconsistent, recently. The Partagas Serie D No. 4 suffers from the same fate — the band of performance varies wildly from quite a number of poor specimens turning up in each box, and a decreasing number of “super stars”. Some people have blamed this phenomenon on overproduction, others claim the blend has been changing over the years (it hasn’t). It seems that the popular cigars are being the hardest hit by consistency issues, and the PSD4 certainly falls into that category of popularity.

The cigar i smoked for this review came from a fresh box of 10 sticks, STA ABR 10.  I like the 10 stick format — not only does it give me a chance to diversify my collection of cigars, but it also saves a lot of space! The wrapper on this particular cigar was very nice, supple to the touch, with slight veining. The scent test offered some salty sweet tobacco notes; experience tells me that this is a sign of freshness and a lack of maturity.

Taking a quick full cut, i found the draw perfect, and took a flame to the foot. A deep draws later, and the cigar was well on its way. Perfect combustion, perfect burn that would last the length of the whole stick.

The first third was distinctively Partagas — very earthy, leathery with some thick bitter sweetness. Very, very nice. Its the kind of flavour that just puts you back on the seat of your pants, and lets you relax right away. The aroma being woodsy and fresh, it was a lovely package of expressions. I thoroughly enjoyed the first couple of inches. The very best PSD4s are able to make this pleasure last the whole length of the cigar.

But this PSD4 was very young, and started showing it’s age quite early on in the second half. Some tannicity started to appear, small little bites at the back of the throat. It never really got harsh and roughly bitter, but i could tell that this cigar just wasn’t ready for smoking yet, despite how admirably it tasted in the first third. The leather and earth flavours were just not melded well, not refined, and quite wildly swinging in any direction it wanted to go.

The final third improved a bit, but just a bit. Very interesting pepper and spice came out, and the little pinpricks on the palate and lips were delightful; i really enjoyed that. A very bitter chocolate flavour replaced all the leather and earth from before, and i found this to be quite a departure from the known profile of the PSD4, especially at the end which usually offers a fantastic smooth finish.

In all likelihood, the next stick from this box will be a blockbuster. But it was disappointing that this particular stick was poor. And i think that sums up the current problems with cigars like the PSD4 and Monte4: you just don’t know what you’re going to get. A bit like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.

Verdict: 83/100. Not a bad cigar, just one that falls so far short of what i know the PSD4 is able to deliver. The variation of flavour after the first third swung so wildly across the palate, if this was a blind taste, there would be no way to tell that this was a Partagas cigar. I’ll probably smoke another from the box soon to see if this stick was a real aberration, if not, then the rest will stay in the humidor for a long time.