Partagas Salomones (Cuba)
Double perfecto (184mm x 57 ring gauge)
A huge monster of a cigar; they were originally made for La Casa del Habanos outlets and are not that easy to get hold of. This isn’t a smoke for beginners; the size alone is seriously intimidating even to experienced smokers. They make Montecristo #2s look like petit coronas by comparison, and Epicure #2s not worth bothering with at all. This is the kind of cigar you’d find clamped between the lips of a cartoon character or a dictator, or perhaps both.
Impressively rolled, they are firmly packed but surprisingly light; the wrapper is a nice mid claro milk chocolate shade and slightly oily to the touch. Surprisingly, for a double perfecto they are easy to light and draw; in fact, the draw is very light indeed and offers very little resistance through most of the first half. Held heat very well throughout the entire burn; I was able to leave it for a few minutes and it fired up without problem on the first puff. The ash was firm and white, holding for about two inches before dropping off despite the relative lack of density of the cigar. Smoking time was close to two hours. I know it’s a personal thing, but the lack of draw resistance was quite disturbing to me and resulted in not quite enough smoke to be satisfying – it was a bit like sucking through a fat straw.
Pre-lighting, there are some light notes of hay and earth present, but nothing compared to the very strong notes present in other cigars (especially the cigar I smoked immediately prior to this one, an Opus X robusto). The first third fires up with distinctly Partagas notes of hay and dark earth; it’s hinting at the power to come but not yet showing it. The smoke is slightly dry, and also carries some subtle floral/ tea notes. After an inch or so, the taste becomes richer; probably due to the bottom taper burning down to the point of maximum width. Hints of roasted nuts come into play as we transition into the second third. The second third doesn’t change markedly from the initial portion, however there are some pleasant coconut notes showing themselves on the overrun; in fact, coconut is one of the dominant aftertastes at this point. Into the home stretch, and pepper, spice and butter notes accompany a definite increase in strength. The coconut hit is still there, and if anything, getting even stronger. By this point, all of the flavours have blended themselves into a complex, smooth and very potent blend. I was pretty much horizontal at the end. Thanks to the sheer size of the cigar, the smoke remains cool and pleasant throughout, and I was easily able to nub it.
Here’s a strange question, and one related to how I judge cigars: do you like the way your fingers smell afterwards? I find the very best cigars leave a fairly intoxicating residue on the fingers you use to hold the cigar thanks to a mixture of the oils exuding from the wrapper, and probably some interesting reactions with your natural body chemistry. And it’s fairly consistent: if I didn’t like the cigar, I definitely hated the way my fingers smelled after. So, what about the Partagas Salomones?
Pleasantly fragrant digits aside, I find myself in a slightly odd position, because while I think this cigar deserves 8 or more, I simply can’t justify it after breaking down its consistent components. Is it well rolled? Yes, but not the best I’ve encountered; the burn line wavered and needed touching up, and I found the draw much too light and lacking resistance. Did it taste good? Yes, but it wasn’t as complex or fulfilling as a lot of other cigars I’ve had, and somehow didn’t feel complete – it lacked the layering and mouth-coating smoothness of a Montecristo D, for instance. Maybe it was because the experience was drawn out over two hours, and subconsciously I’d expect twice as many different flavours in that time. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s a very good cigar – just not one of my all time favourites. Still, worth a try if you’ve got a lazy afternoon and nothing better to do.