Before Castro took power in Cuba, Partagas cigars were made in Havana under the direction of Ramon Cifuentes and before him, by his father. Leaving Cuba after Castro took over, Cifuentes moved to Santiago, Dominican Republic and continued the tradition of fine craftsmanship. The Partagas Cifuentes Diciembre is a Dominican version of this famous Cuban brand—a medium-to-full bodied Dominican Puro ripe with flavor. Wrapped in a dark and toothy Cuban-seed wrapper grown in the Dominican Republic it’s a beauty, too. Note the slight press and how densely packed this gem is—chock-full of Dominican Piloto Cubano long-fillers. Expect an excellent draw and even burn. Look for notes of oak, cream, earth and pepper—rich, spicy flavors—but beware a punch that will knock you cold if you’re not ready for it. This cigar is, for most, not destined to be your everyday smoke but it’s one you’ll savor when you do light it up. Try it with a stiff Cognac or rich port that's big and bold enough to match up to this gem.
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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