Partagas brand cigars are one of the oldest brand of cigars still in existence. They were established in 1845 in Havana, Cuba. Today, the name is used by two separate and competing cigar companies. One is the famous state-owned Habanos SA in Cuba and the other is the General Cigar Company headquartered in the Dominican Republic, which produces cigars mainly for the US market but doesn’t contain one bit of Cuban tobacco.
How It All Began
Partagas, named for the original owner and founder Catalan (person from Catalonia) Don Jaume Partagás i Ravell, has a colorful and very interesting past. It all began when the young, innovative entrepreneur migrated to Cuba. The dates don’t quite add up, but apparently Partagas (not much more than a child when this apparently happened in 1827) founded a small tobacco company with the assistance of Joan Conill, a businessman from Lloret de Mar, in Havana.
By 1845, Don Jaume had accumulated a small fortune and owned several of the best plantations on the island. He then decided to open his own factory and named it Real Fábricas de Tabaco Partagás (Partagas Royal Tobacco Factory). It is said that he choose the name because of his status as an elite cigar supplier to European and Asian royalty. It was one of the largest factories of the time.
Because Partagas owned the best plantations in the finest tobacco growing region of Cuba, the Vuelta Abajo, he was able to choose premium tobacco, which quickly made his cigars incredibly popular. It is also believed that Don Jaume experimented with various fermenting and aging methods of the tobacco to create the best flavors, aroma and smoothness. Legend has it that Partagas was also the one who first introduced the practice of having a lector read books to and entertain the workers as they rolled the cigars.
Don Jaume Partagás i Ravell was murdered on one of his plantations in 1864 or 1868 – the exact year isn’t known for sure. The exact reason isn’t clear either, but it is believed he was killed by a jealous rival he had been competing with for the affections of one of his lovers.
After the death of Don Jaume, his son Josep Partagas took over the business. The factory and brand name were later sold to José A. Bance, a banker, who in 1900, sold it to Cifuentes, Fernández y Cía. Apparently, Don José Fernández left the company in 1916, and Ramon Cifuentes Llano together with Francisco Pego Pita took over and formed Cifuentes, Pego y Cía. The company obtained the rights to the Ramon Allones brand in 1927. At some point – the exact time in history is unclear – the factory began production of its own brand name, the Cifuentes.
In 1938, Ramon Cifuentes died and Francisco Pego Pita died two years later, in 1940. The increasingly prestigious maker of high quality cigars, especially the elite brand of Partagas was left in the sole ownership of the Cifuentes family. The family renamed the business Cifuentes y Cia.
Cifuentes y Cia acquired the prestigious Bolivar brand and La Gloria Cubana brand in 1954 from Jose F. Rocha. Production was moved to the Cifuentes factory. In terms of exportation of Cuban cigars, by 1958 the company was second only to the H. Upmann company. Overall, the company accounted for more than a quarter of all tobacco products exported.
Both before and after the Cuban Revolution, the real Partagas produced in Cuba remained as one of the most elite and best selling cigars in the world. By the mid 1990s, the Partagas was second in sales only to the world famous Montecristo. Approximately ten million Partagas brand cigars were sold per year.
The original Partagas Factory in Havana, after wards renamed as the “Francisco Perez German,” is today still the major producer of the Partagas brand. The factory is a popular tourist attraction for cigar aficionados visiting Cuba.
The government owned Habanos SA sold a controlling share of the company to Altadis in 2002. This initiated a number of changes to the production of cigars. One of the main changes included turning many of the brands from hand made to machine made, and eliminating some of the slow selling brands.
This might have been a good move for the survival of the company, but many cigar connoisseurs all over the world were very disappointed to see their favorite brand discontinued.
There are two Partagas manufactured by a machine, the Mini and the Club. The company also produces a brand of Partagas cigarettes.
Partagas Line of Vitolas
This is a list of the commercially sold vitolas produced under the Partagas brand. The size of the cigar and the ring gauge is included in both Imperial and metric measurements.
Vitolas Made by Hand:
- 898 Cabinet Selection Varnished – measures 6¾ × 43 inches (171 × 17.07 mm), officially called the Dalia, but smokers call it a lonsdale in slang
- Aristocrat – measures 5⅛ × 40 inches (130 × 15.88 mm), officially called the Petit Cetro, commonly called a petit corona by smokers
- Corona Junior – measures 4⅝ × 40 inches (117 × 15.88 mm), officially named the Coronita, called a petit corona by cigar smokers
- Corona Senior – measures 5¼ × 42 inches (133 × 16.67 mm), officially called the Eminente, commonly called a corona by aficionados
- Culebras – measures 5¾ × 39 inches (146 × 15.48 mm), officially called the Culebras, commonly called the a culebra by cigar smokers
- Habanero – measures 4⅞ × 39 inches (124 × 15.48 mm), officially called the Belvedere, smokers call it a short panetela in slang
- Lusitania – measures 7⅝ × 49 inches (194 × 19.45 mm), official name is Prominente, but the smokers call it a double corona in slang
- Mille Fleurs – measures 5⅛ × 42 inches (130 × 16.67 mm), officially called Petit Corona, known commonly as a petit corona by smokers
- No. 1 – measures 6¾ × 43 inches (171 × 17.07 mm), officially called a Dalia, known to smokers as a lonsdale in slang
- Partagás de Luxe – measures 5½ × 40 inches (140 × 15.88 mm), official name is Crema, but smokers just call it a corona in slang
- Petit Corona Especial – measures 5¼ × 42 inches (133 × 16.67 mm), officially the Eminente, known commonly as a corona by smokers
- Presidente – measures 6¼ × 47 inches (159 × 18.65 mm), officially known as a Taco, but to locals, it is a perfecto in slang
- Princess – measures 5 × 35 inches (127 × 13.89 mm), officially named Conchita, but called a short panetela by aficionados
- Serie du Connaisseur No. 1 – measures 7½ × 38 inches (191 × 15.08 mm), official name, Delicado, known to smokers as a long panetela in slang
- Serie du Connaisseur No. 2 – measures 6½ × 38 inches (165 × 15.08 mm), officially called the Parejo, but smokers know it as a panetela in slang
- Serie du Connaisseur No. 3 – measures 5⅝ × 35 inches (143 × 13.89 mm), the official name is Carlota, but smokers call it a panetela in local circles
- Serie D No. 4 – measures 4⅞ × 50 inches (124 × 19.84 mm), named Robusto, and also known as robusto by aficionados
- Serie D No. 5 – measures 4.3 × 50 inches (110 × 19.84 mm), same name officially, but smokers call it a petit robusto in slang
- Serie E No. 2 – measures 5.5 x 54 inches (140 x 54), known as the Duke, but smokers just call it a robusto extra in slang
- Serie P No. 2 – measures 6⅛ × 52 inches (156 × 20.64 mm), officially the Pirámide, and commonly known as a pyramid by smokers
- Short – measures 4⅜ × 42 inches (111 × 16.67 mm), officially named the Minuto, and a petit corona in common terms
- Super Partagás – measures 5½ × 40 inches (140 × 15.88 mm), officially named the Crema, commonly called a corona.
Limited Edition Releases:
- 2000 the Piramide – measuring 6⅛ × 52 inches (156 × 20.64 mm)
- 2001 and re-released in 2006 Serie D No. 3 – measured 5⅝ × 46 inches (143 × 18.26 mm)
- 2003 Serie D No. 2 – measured 6⅛ × 50 inches (156 × 19.84 mm)
- 2004 Serie D No. 1 – measured 6¾ × 50 inches (171 × 19.84 mm)
- 2008 Serie D No. 5 – measured 4⅓ × 50 inches (110 × 19.84 mm)
- 2010 Serie D Especial – measured 5.6 x 50 inches (141 x 50)
- 2012 Serie C No. 3 – measured 5.5 x 48 inches (140 x 48).