Partagas Lusitania Review – Gran Reserva vs 2003 Cabinet

25 Mar


nfc capI was fortunate in getting both some banded Partagas Lusitanias Gran Reserva Cosecha 2007 released in 2013 ( that is : presented, it’s not out in the stores yet for a long time ) and some more un-banded from the first production release at this year’s XV Festival.

I was also fortunate in smoking the cigar in Havana before its official presentation at the Gala dinner with my friend Frank – who also promised a detailed review for my blog. We both liked the cigar a lot.

These are details gathered from Excelencias magazine Nr 113/2013, on the new Gran Reserva:

“It will be limited to 5000 individually numbered lacquered boxes @ 15 cigars.

Blended by Partagas master blender Sr. Arnaldo Bichot under the supervision of the Tobacco Institute.

The Ligero leaves used for the strength ( Fortaleza ) were carefully selected from San Juan y Martinez due to the rich soils of that region that give the cigar the typical earthy note while the Seco leaves are from San Luis, famous world-wide for and unequalled in its Aroma.

The blending characteristics of the cigar with all its components originating from the Vuelta Abajo makes the Marca immediately recognisable for its rich and intense flavour.”

As mentioned above, the cigar was blended at Partagas by Master Blender Sr. Arnaldo Bichot, whom I had the pleasure of meeting back in Nov. 2011 at the Partagas factory, along with another of the Partagas master blenders and Deborah Zulueta.

Here some of Sr. Bichot’s comments on the new GR, also from Excelencias :

“The tobacco has 5 to 6 years of aging in different warehouses for the seco, volado and ligero plus the wrapper, a special blend that has an exquisite aroma and all the characteristics of tobacco that had not been manufactured in Cuba for many years.

After the cata ( tasting ) of the cigar people were very pleased with its strength, aroma and the sweetness of the cigar. To me it’s an excellent and exquisite product.

Working with the best selection of leaves from the Vuelta Abajo and to assure the cigar comes out in divine conditions it is necessary to work in percentages, not in barrels as they don’t have the same accuracy.

That will assure that each and every Lusitania you smoke today or in the future will have the same aroma, sweetness and tobacco quality.”

Now – the proof of the cigar is in the smoking, so I decided to review this cigar with two good friends and cigar smokers in private here in the village.

We met for another session of the Monday Classics ( only that it happened on a Sunday evening ) at the office and while I provided three sticks of the Lusitania Gran Reserva fresh from Havana, Andreas provided the tasting counterpart, three well cured samples of the regular Lusitania dating from 2003 and box coded TDV OCT 2003 – and then some amazing Bordeaux wines and a Cognac “bomb”.

Here’s the story :

We met early enough – 7 pm – to dine on a take-away dinner of salad and pizza and a bottle of Spanish Tempranillo in the lab before proceeding to the office.

By then we had already opened two 1998 bottles of Chateau Mouton and Chateau Lafite to let them breathe.

We started with the 2013 Lusitania Gran Reserva.

Here are the notes to that cigar :

Quite dry, fragile wrapper ( might be the temperature shock ), very floral and sweet on the nose.

Typical Partagas taste, strong, earthy, honest cigar.

Perfect everything – construction, burn, draw. Amazing wrapper.

A&H considers the cigar strong – I consider it light and balanced.

A&H : Like a young boxer eager to hit.

A : Nicotine goes straight to the palate. Hans agrees.

N : Young, not yet harmonious but very close to it.

A&H : Has character – defined & specific character.

We not only talk cigars … Jazz playing in the background.

While we smoke, we discuss the current Euro-crisis on Cyprus – negotiations are underway in Brussels .. and at the same time also in Belgium, my friend Frank is smoking and reviewing the same cigar.

Frank will send me his thorough and excellent assessment of it, please read it.

Then we opened the Hennessy Paradis decanter – pure creamy butter.

Funny story about the Hennessy Paradis Cognac is that it was bought by Andreas at Beijing airport in 2005 on his return flight from this trip with me :

A : Cigar becomes more settled in second third, very balanced.

We let the cigar go out after the second third and lighted up the Lusitania from 2003, factory code TDV, OCT 2003.

These cigars have been stored since purchase at 55% RH.

Markedly thinner due to aging.

Smell is chocolate and leather.

Old boxer, waits, has the experience to wait for the hit.

To me a different animal – much stronger and in your face taste, pure tobacco in the first minutes, strong. GR more velvety.

A&H like the ’03 better now.

A&H : GR will age great.

N : ’03 becomes much more accessible, much better after the first minutes.

H : ’03 is better “married”, all aromas are one, reason why it comes over as more potent.

And so, around midnight, after some 4 hours of two great cigars, great wines and a great Cognac we came to the unanimous conclusion that the GR was the better cigar.

Not that it won by a knock-out, it was more a victory by points and elegant excellence.

We always enjoy these classic Monday evenings – even on a Sunday !




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