The Partagas line was first developed in 1845 in Cuba by Jaime Partagás y Rabell, a history that suggests any Partagas cigar is going to be a great smoke. Long before Fidel Castro came into power in Cuba, Partagas cigars were hand crafted in Havana under the supervision of Ramon Cifuentes and his father, the last owners of the brand before the Cuban revolution. Ramon Cifuentes was one of the last of the legendary cigar-makers to leave Cuba. He did so in the early 1960s when he discovered Santiago, Dominican Republic and deemed it the ideal place to manufacture the line and to continue the tradition of fine craftsmanship. Like many pre-revolution brands, Partagas was split into two brands after the revolution, one owned by the Cuban state-run Habanos S.A. the other owned by General Cigar Company after the Cifuentes family sold the trademark.
The Partagas Aniversario 170 Salomone was released in 2015 and quantities are extremely limited. This super-premium cigar offers the classic Partagas style smoke with a four-country blend starting with a blend of proprietary Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos known as “Nicaraguan Guardian” and premium Dominican long-fillers, which are then hugged by a Habano Connecticut binder. The star, though, is the African Cameroon wrapper which is grown without fertilizer in the lush soil of the Kadey region of Cameroon by the legendary Meerapfel family. Medium-bodied, this luscious cigar has notes of sweet wood, cream, cocoa, and spice accompanied by a razor sharp burn and lots of thick creamy smoke. Try pairing it with a single malt.
Though tobacco is indigenous to Hispaniola, the tobacco industry in the Dominican Republic existed in the shadow of Cuba’s dominance through the 1960s. When the exodus of Cuban cigar makers began in the wake of the revolution, many decided the Dominican Republic would be ideal for the resumption of their livelihoods. Unrest in Nicaragua in the 1980s fueled the Dominican cigar industry further. The country now makes more than half of the premium cigars imported into the U.S.
The Cibao Valley and the nearby city of Santiago are the center of cigar production in the Dominican Republic. Three main varieties are grown here: the mild and native Olor Dominicano; the intense Piloto Cubano, brought from the Vuelta Abajo of Cuba; and San Vicente, a milder and more acidic Piloto hybrid. Dominican puros were once unheard of as it was widely thought impossible to grow quality wrapper leaf on the island, but new growing techniques are now allowing some exceptional puros to be produced.
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