For those looking for the rare, thrilling, exciting one-offs and perhaps wildly expensive cigars, I am afraid that this time we must disappoint. Partagás Serie D No. 4, which tends to be known simply as the D4, is a cigar that almost all serious cigar lovers will have enjoyed – the obvious exception being our brethren who are not permitted to sample Cuba’s finest thanks to their governments’ draconian embargos.
And before we descend into politics, both sides of the fence have long enforced it. The rest of us keep our fingers crossed that it will not be long before all cigar aficionados get the chance to share this and many more great cigars from Cuba.
The D4 is one of those cigars like the Montecristo No. 2 that are likely to be in many cigar lovers’ humidors and will likely rank high among their favorites. But the D4s are neither a Limited Edition nor a Regional Release.
Occasionally, vintage boxes are available (grab any you see) and there was a Partagás Reserva Cosecha 2000 Serie D No. 4 released in 2005 as part of the Reserve Series – 5,000 black lacquered boxes were available.
Partagás: a famous name in the cigar world
Partagás is a famous name in the cigar world, dating back to the early nineteenth century when Don Jaime Partagás Ravelo, a Spaniard, traveled to Cuba to work in the tobacco industry. By 1827, he had a “Partagás factory” up and running.
In 1845, the famous Partagás factory, still a favorite of tourists and cigar lovers, was built. It is the oldest cigar factory in Cuba and a must for anyone visiting the island, whether or not they enjoy cigars. Dubbed the Partagás Royal Tobacco Factory, as among its clients were many members of the aristocracy from both Europe and Arabia, at the time of construction it was considered a very large factory for the day, the Don obviously having an eye to the future.
These days, the Partagás Royal Tobacco Factory operates as a divan where aficionados can go and enjoy cigars, which are now rolled offsite. The future of the factory remains up in the air: there have been plans to establish a cigar museum on site and also to turn it into a hotel, though recent stricter American policies toward Cuba have ensured that this is very much on hold. As of now no one knows, but visitors would be remiss not to drop by.
Partagás Ravelo did a lot of experimenting with methods of production as well as working in the tobacco fields to improve his cigars. He made certain that he personally selected the best tobacco and, where possible, purchased those plantations producing the very best tobacco in the Vuelta Abajo region.
The idea of bringing in readers to entertain the rollers during the working day is also attributed to Partagás Ravelo.
However, not everything went smoothly for our hero. In the 1860s, he was fatally shot by a competitor due to an amorous entanglement. I’ve never been able to ascertain whether the deed was done by a “competitor” purely in the romantic sense or whether he was also a competitor in business. But it hardly matters now. Jaime’s son, José, took over.
It seems he may not have been as committed to the business as his father and, later that century, he sold to banker José Bance. A few years later, the company changed hands again at a time of economic hardship and uncertainty. It passed through several owners during the twentieth century, pre-Revolution. Along the way, in 1954, Partagás purchased the brands Bolivar and La Gloria Cubana.
At the time of the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959), Partagás was the second largest exporter of cigars from Cuba with 26 percent of the market. H. Upmann led the way with 30 percent.
Partagás Serie D No. 4: my take
The D4 was part of an extensive range introduced by Partagás in the 1930s for the British market. Originally, the range incorporated Series A, B, C, and D, with cigars numbered 1 to 4 in each.
By the 1960s, these were all discontinued, including the D4. However, in the mid-1970s there was an upswing of interest in cigars of the robusto size. Hence, the decision was made in 1975 to reintroduce the D4. Welcome back!
Subsequently, we have seen D1s, D2s, and D3s all released as Limited Edition cigars.
In his superb An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars from 2004, Min Ron Nee notes earthy, peppery notes, almost like a small Lusitania. Like that much larger cigar, there is a feeling that the power and flavors were moderated a little from the mid-1990s, though others feel there has been a revival, albeit not quite to the original levels.
Just to illustrate how highly regarded this book is, good condition copies are now fetching close to $2,000 on the secondary market.
Technically, the D4 is known as a robusto. It is 50 x 124 mm. Boxes of 25 are most familiar, but they have been available in boxes of ten since 2007 and packs of three tubed cigars since 2009.
For me, the flavors are spicy but with some earthy notes, leather and cedar/wood characters. They tend to the fuller bodied end of the spectrum. D4s rarely disappoint, with the balance always a highlight. This is a cigar that is approachable when young, but ages superbly.
For many, they are the ultimate robusto – a massive compliment given they have some very serious challengers for the title, not least the most famous of which is the CoRo (Cohiba Robusto).
The Reserva Cosecha 2000 came from tobacco harvested in 2000, aged for three years before rolling, and then released in 2005. Coming in boxes of 20, they sold out quickly and any box that does appear these days is quickly snapped up, despite the elevated price. They are superb cigars, although I am not certain I would rank them any higher than a fine, aged standard D4.
D5s and D6s have now been added as standard production lines.
Partagás D4 may not be one of the many “special” releases from Cuba. It does, however, have one claim to fame: it is a wonderfully reliable and always an excellent cigar. Hard to ask for much more than that.
Expect to pay around $275 for a box of 25 D4s, while a box of D4 Reservas 2000 fetches upward of $3,500.
quillandpad.com – by Ken Gargett