Cigar Review: Partagas 8-9-8 Varnished (Cuban)

Partagas 8-9-8 Varnished

When one thinks of the Cuban Partagas brand the Lusitania and Serie D No. 4 come to mind, but the cigar that is often forgotten or not mentioned is the 8-9-8 Varnished. Now I should mention that there is an 8-9-8 Varnished and there was an 8-9-8 Unvarnished. The Varnished is the dalias format and measures 6 ¾” with a 43 ring gauge and the unvarnished measures 6” with a 42 ring gauge. I have had both and I prefer the varnished version merely because of its length and the larger ring gauge. The dalias, or Lonsdale size, has become less popular now a day because of the preference in larger ring gauges for cigars, but I for one am a big fan of thinner cigars. I find that thinner cigar show more flavors from the wrapper, and that is what I love in a cigar. The Partagas 8-9-8 Varnished is probably the most notable of the dalias vitola, but the Cohiba Siglo V is also a dalias, and that cigar ranked #2 in 2009 for Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigar of the Year. When looking at the name Partagas 8-9-8, you might wonder where the 8-9-8 comes from, and the answer is the packaging. The cigars are layered in three rows of 8, 9 and 8. Now you can buy this cigar in ten count boxes and not have it layered like the 25 count box, but it is still the same cigar. My Cuban smoking friends and I have often made the joke they should call those Partagas 3-4-3, but then we decided it wasn’t that funny and should get a life. The cigar is alluring in hand with lots of oils on the toothy wrapper. It is constructed perfectly and has a light brown color to it. The triple cap is beautiful and has almost a flattened head. There is a wonderful aroma of leather, spices, wood, and a faint hint of rich earth. The cigar is lovely to begin with showing a lot of rich flavors. I pick up hints of cocoa, coffee, earth, leather and a lot of spice on the finish. The burn is impeccable and the cigar is producing a thin amount of smoke. When I get into the second third the cigar becomes fuller in body, becoming medium-full, and the flavors are definitely stronger as well. I am still picking up a lot of the flavors I got in the first third, but I am beginning to get hints of cocoa and stone fruit as well. At this point the cigar is still burning very well the flame is beginning to go out so I have to relight it. I am in the final third now and the cigar is showing wonderful flavor notes and is probably more complex than ever. I am picking up citrus notes, cedar and some leather with a nice sweet finish of cocoa, coffee and spice. I was having some burn issues in the final third but overall the cigar was still showing great flavors and strength and the burn did not play too much of a factor in the rating.

I would give this cigar 95 points and consider it to be one of the most favorable cigars in the Partagas brand. I know the size is not to most smokers liking but it really is unique. You don’t see many non-Cuban cigars with such a small ring gauges, so it is nice to see that Habanos S.A. is still making vitola’s in this size. I feel that Habanos S.A. really understands that you can have amazing and flavorful cigars in this format and that you don’t need a huge cigar to give off flavor. IN fact, most cigar makers will tell you that just because a cigar is big do not necessarily mean it will have more flavors. It will just be bigger! I am not surprised that a cigar like the 8-98 is still popular among worldwide smokers, and I wish that these sizes would be more popular in America. If you have a chance to pick this smoke up I strongly suggest you do, just so you can have the experience of this size. It has a nice length to it and because of that it lets you savor the thin ring gauge for a good amount of time, one of my favorite Cuban cigars. If the trend in cigars for America is that they will all be 56 plus ring gauges, I can see myself smoking only Cubans. Long live the dalias/Lonsdale!

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