I hope everybody had a fun New Years Eve and ample opportunity to recover from the festivities the following day. My holiday was thoroughly enjoyable, spent sipping champagne and puffing on cigars into the wee hours of the morning. The icing on the cake was turning off the alarm clock and sleeping off the consequences of said revelry.
In keeping with Walt’s campaign of reviewing budget smokes for over-taxed wallets, I was planning on pulling some inexpensive cigars out of the humidor. But then I realized the special day called for a special cigar. And New Years seemed like a good time to light up one of those Partagas 160’s I’ve been hanging on to. But since the holiday is really two parts, the evening before and the holiday itself, why not smoke one for each? That way, I can both enjoy the cigars and get a review in? (Just look how well I rationalized all this.)
So what’s the big deal about the Partagas 160 anyway? The answer is the wrapper. These cigars bear a vintage 1977 Cameroon leaf that was originally used to make the well-spoken-of Partagas 150. Apparently they had some left over, so General Cigar decided to go for round two. Now I don’t know about you, but as the years go by, the opportunity to consume things as old as you are comes less and less frequently. I had to give them a shot.
Of course, that’s all fine and dandy, but the real question is whether or not this is a good cigar. And if it is, is it worth the premium price tag? Does such a geriatric leaf have anything left to give after all these years? That’s what I hope to determine with this review.
Size: 4 1/2 x 48
Wrapper: 1977 Cameroon
Filler: Dominican Republic, Mexico
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hour
As I mentioned earlier, I lit up two of these elderly sticks to celebrate the holiday. The first I kept in a humidor at around 65% relative humidity, the second I moved to another running around 70%. I mention this here because the drier cigar did look and feel drier than the second. The second had the faintest sheen, while there was none on the first.
I found both cigars to be nice and firm to the touch. The second cigar was veinier and lumpier that the first. Both cigars had small rips in the wrapper at the foot that most likely was the result of the cigars bumping into other sticks in the humidor. (These smokes do not come with cellophane wrappers, which is kind of a shame given the delicate nature of the wrapper.)
It wasn’t a big surprise that I had difficulty picking up the scent of the wrapper. You have to figure a leaf that old has to have mellowed a great deal. After a lot of sniffing (bordering on being ridiculous) I did get the faint odor of compost. I found the cold taste to likewise be a bit difficult. I never did get a good read on it.
As you’d probably expect these cigars had a great burn. Inch plus ashes and a mostly straight burn line. I did notice a bit of flakiness in the ash of the second cigar, but only well into the final third, and nothing that compromised the structure of the ash.
Likewise the draw was nearly perfect. Though the more humidified cigar was just a little tight initially. The draw quickly opened up and was identical to the first in no time.
This is where it gets interesting. Remember I mentioned storing the two cigars at different humidities? Well it really made a difference in the flavor department. Generally speaking the drier of the two cigars had woodier flavors and was more subtle, while the other was creamier and a bit fuller.
In both cigars, the first third was syrupy sweet, sometimes tasting like caramel. In the second cigar, I got a flavor that was very much like a pear, while the first had more of a paper flavor.
The woodiness of the first cigar really started to pick up during the second third. And in the other, this is where the creaminess emerged. Both cigars had occasional pockets of cinnamon in this third.
In the final third the body started to pick up. Both cigars developed some leather notes in this third. The second cigar also picked up the woodiness that dominated the first cigar. But I was still in for a surprise. As I burned dangerously close to the toothpick in the final third, I got a roasted coconut flavor that was really intriguing.
When you consider the age of the tobacco, and the costs associated with maintaining it all these years, the price make sense. That being said, it’s really hard to justify shelling out a twenty for a cigar. Especially when you consider the plethora of fine smokes that can be bought for half the price.
Shiny! At these prices, this should be gold leaf!
To begin with, I really enjoyed this cigar. I think it really performs well in the flavor department at 70% relative humidity. (I was less impressed with the slightly drier smoke.) Ancient though it may be, there is still some flavor in those old veins. But not enough to justify the full retail price. These cigars, while good, strike me more as prestige smokes. The story behind the cigar outperforms the cigar itself.
The good news is that, while rare, these cigars are slow movers in some markets. I’ve run across them at a discount a couple of different shops locally. So you may have some luck at getting your hands on these at a more reasonable price. (Or at auction.) On a possibly related note, the rumor going around is that these cigars are not as good as the 150. I’d love to venture my opinion on that, but I’ve never had the 150. But it would explain the discounts.
Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes, but not at full retail price
Recommend It: Yes, if money is no object
The Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.