Partagas Serie D 4 (Cuba)
(robusto, 140mm x 52 ring)

One of the most common ‘serious’ cigars encountered, the D is a popular robust churned out literally by the thousands, and not always from the same factory. Using a car analogy, the D would be something like a Mitsubishi Evo – made in fairly large numbers, punching above its expected weight but lacking the refinement of some of its breathen. You could smoke one of these every day for a year and not get bored – I very nearly did in 2006.

Construction/ draw: 6.5/10
Like mass produced cars, quality control at the factory makes the difference between a surprisingly engaging and well-assembled vehicle and one that does the job, but you can’t help feel may have been built on a Friday afternoon before the union knocks off to the pub for a beer or five. I’ve had Ds that have been superb – rivaling the limited editions for draw and tightness of ash – and I’ve had Ds that had massive wrapper inclusions, persistent multiple plugged spots, tunneling and subsequent extinguishing. I’ve even had cigars where small holes in the upper portion of the wrapper resulted in not being able to draw any meaningful volume of air through the body of the cigar. Thankfully, Friday afternoon is but once a week (or maybe once a month in socialist countries like Cuba) and for the most part, Ds remain fairly good – but not great.

Ds are fairly firmly packed, with medium to firm draw. The wrappers are on the dark side of claro, and they  put out thick clouds of smoke for around 45 min-1 hour, though I have finished one in 15 minutes under particularly stressful circumstances.

*caveat: I have a box of Ds in my humidor from 2009 that have obviously had a hard life. I am putting the worst of them out of their misery. Amazingly, despite the tears, huge veins and other woes, they smoke wonderfully. I guess there’s no substitute for experience.

Flavor: 8/10
Amazingly, despite the huge variation in construction and possibly origin, every D I’ve ever smoked has tasted the same – literally dozens, if not close to a hundred. Even more amazingly, the progression of flavor is remarkably consistent, though not that complex. The first third starts with a burnt herbal or leafy taste, it’s strong and there’s nothing subtle about it. What comes in next and remains through the rest of the cigar will come as a shock to any serie D virgins. You’ll wonder if there’s a fuel leak, or perhaps your waiter has served you a glass of aviation fuel instead of whatever tipple you might have ordered. But nothing is out of the ordinary; Ds really do taste a lot like kerosene. I’m told it’s the signature flavor of the cigar, and they seem to sell so well I wonder why Habanos hasn’t concocted a blend with hints of glue and high octane race fuel.

The kerosene taste only grows stronger towards the end, compounded with hints of something green and perhaps a little almond. It’s a smoke that starts off medium and quickly builds to strong; perhaps that’s why seasoned smokers like it so much – a D never fails to provide the requisite satisfaction. I’d say nicotine content in this one is pretty high. Throughout the burn, the overwhelming impression is one of weight and viscosity to the smoke; perhaps it’s something subconscious brought on by the similarity of it’s flavor to crude oil.

Conclusion: 7.5/10
The D is a great example of something dependable, at least as far as taste goes. It isn’t the most characterful smoke out there, but makes a great go-to smoke when you’re not in an adventurous mood or need something to put you in a better mood -I always have a few of these in the humidor, and I suppose that captures my overall feelings towards this cigar better than any number can.