Cigar Reviews

Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series

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In case you missed it, we are giving away 10 samplers of the upcoming Para Jabon from La Aurora. Tony made a post about it earlier this week and the deadline is closing quickly. Read the post here and make sure to post a comment to get an entry, it’s that easy! If you want an extra entry, just post a comment here!

So let’s get something out of the way for some people who may not be as educated in the various brands of cigars. This “Partagas” is not the same as the Cuban Partagas. With the Cuban embargo in place some companies took advantage of the chance to capitalize on a well known cigar brand such as Partagas. You can also see similar non-cuban manufactures producing Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta and many others. As much as some people may not like this, it’s hard to argue that it was a very smart business decision! No marketing expenses required and you already have a product with a well known name. There is a lot more to this story, including the fact that one of the executives worked at the original Partagas factory in Cuba, and this is just a brief overview but now you get the idea.

As for my selection today, it is produced by the General Cigar Company who has other well names under it’s belt such as Cohiba, Macanudo and Punch. The Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series is obviously something special and unique, not just part of the normal large production line. This cigar was blended specially by Benji Menendez himself who is the Senior Vice President of the General Cigar Company.

The Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series was released in limited quantities of 5000 boxes. There is actual a small website devoted to the Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series cigar made by General Cigar Co which you can find here. The site was used to promote a tour he did in 2009 when the cigar was originally released. But enough banter about the cigar and it’s story, let’s find out how it fares in today’s review.

Cigar: Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series
Drink: Delaforce Reserve Porto 2004
Vitola: Majestuoso (6 x 46)
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Habano Connecticut
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
Price: About $9
Burn Time: 1.5 hours

Construction:
• A velvety smooth dark brown wrapper surrounds this cigar and only shows small veins here and there
• The entire length of the cigar is very firm with almost no spring to it, although the foot seems a bit soft
• The double cap atop this cigar is very cleanly finished
• The foot appears to have some voids in the filler which could explain why it’s softer near the bottom
• The cut cut off fairly easy and didn’t make too much of a mess

Burn:
• Toasting the foot took a little bit longer than I would have expected for this vitola but it did light up evenly
• Burn is going razor sharp through the first half, very clean and even
• Straight through to the end the cigar burned with extreme precision and ease

Smoke & Ash:
• Each draw brings a significant amount of smoke and fills my mouth easily
• There is quite a bit of resting smoke on this cigar and it smells sorta like a tobacco cigarette, not really a nice aromatic cigar…
• The initial ash is clean and tight despite the filler being loose near the foot
• After about an inch I tapped the ash off into the ashtray as it started to look weak
• Each subsequent ash lasted about the same 1 inch and had a medium grey/yellowish color to it with some zebra striping

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper aroma on this cigar is distinctly barnyard, apparently this is a sign of a good cigar but it’s definitely not the appealing
• The foot of the cigar presents more barnyard aroma but not as strong, there’s a bit of mild tobacco mixed in there too
• The pre-light draw brings with it a burst of cedar and a hint of peppery spice
• Initial draws here are very bland with mostly just tobacco flavor and a touch of woodsiness
• After the first inch the flavors become more of a creamy woodsiness and the tobacco flavors died off
• As the cigar progresses to the halfway mark, I’m still not getting much more than a creamy woodsy flavor
• The flavors are balanced, at this point still fairly mild with a small bite on the retrohale and a smooth finish
• As I approach the last third, the body increased a bit to about medium but the flavors have stayed pretty much the same
• If anything has changed up to this point I’d say the smoothness on the finish is fading

Final Thoughts:
This cigar is an interesting one to make judgement on. The flavors here were not amazing but I can see their appeal to some people as a cigar to sit back and relax with. The burn and ash were both excellent so I can’t knock any points off here. I think this is one of those cigars that is VERY dependant on your personal palate. I know that is a factor in all cigars but some have general characteristics that are the same to a lot of people, this one seems to fly somewhere between the radar. Where this cigar lost it’s points in my opinion was on the price. For $9 I don’t want a cigar to just relax with and have an easy straightforward experience. For $9 I want something that challenges my palate, offers dimensions, complexity and keeps me on my toes. I don’t feel this cigar did that for me unfortunately.

Pairings:
I really enjoyed the heck out of my last bottle of Delaforce LBV Porto. See my previous review of the Perdomo Grand Cru. When I went back to the store I picked up another bottle of the LBV and sitting beside it I saw the Delaforce Reserve Porto. So since the last one was good I decided to give this one a chance. The price was the same and the flavors are still just as good. Lots of dark berries and bold red wine undertone. I found the Reserve to have a little more oak flavor to it but other than that was very similar to the LBV. For the cheap price of only $17 in the over-priced alcohol market of Ontario, this bottle is a steal and pairs amazingly well with a lot of cigars. I think this Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series would also pair well with coffee or maybe a lighter bodied scotch.

Daniel T. (a.k.a. Dalamscius) is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If he's not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/Dalamscius

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