Majestuoso, 6" x 46 ring gauge / approx. $10
Benji Menendez has been in the cigar industry for close to 60 years. Late last year General Cigar celebrated that by releasing a special signature version of the Partagas line. This "Master Series" cigar features Nicaraguan (Ometepe and Esteli) and Dominican (Piloto Cubano) filler, a Havana-seed Connecticut binder and a dark Cameroon wrapper. I was gifted this cigar by Allen of the NCC and CigarBlog.Net and this is my first experience with this blend.
This was a good-looking cigar--the leaf is a milk chocolate brown with some darker mottling but no large veins or evident flaws. The band was attractive and classy. From the wrapper I got the aroma of barnyard mostly, but it really was not all that strong. From the foot I got a much stronger aroma of barnyard as well as a small I might call "musty attic." The prelight draw was very good and had a wonderful sweet tobacco flavor that seemed to be very common with Cameroon wrappers.
Initial puffs on the Partagas Benji had a sweet hay and tobacco flavor with a very small amount of chili pepper spice on the tongue and a stronger burn through the nose. I took the unusual step of smoking this cigar on a weekday morning (long coffee break from work!) and had some coffee to accompany it. About halfway through the first third, two things came to mind: how much I love this ring gauge and how unlike any other General Partagas this cigar was. The smoke was smooth and medium-bodied at this point and there were notes of oak and sweet tobacco along with a bit of black pepper and roasted nuts on the retrohale.
In the second third the body picked up a bit, putting the cigar in the "high-medium" category, but the flavor stayed consistently great. Along with the oakiness of before, I got some earth and a bit of cocoa powder. It all went very well with my black coffee. The burn line was almost razor straight, the draw was fantastic and the ash held on for nearly an inch before needing to be tapped off.
The final third started much the same as the second ended--wood, earth and just a touch of bittersweet cocoa. I have to admit that this was a pretty remarkable smoke, especially for a Partagas. Not to knock Partagas too much--they are one of the better General brands--but it gets hard to expect much of a surprise from them. This Partagas Benji as a surprise, though--flavorful and well-made, consistent and not too powerful to enjoy anytime of day. While not necessarily something I would call "box-worthy" I might actually consider splitting a box with someone if I found them at a good price--while they are still available. Sadly that seems to be the reality of these--they are a limited release, one-time-only affair. It would be nice to see them put out something this good as a regular line.
Agree, disagree or have your own thoughts you would like to share on this cigar? Please leave a comment and speak your mind!