The Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series Majestuoso was originally released in limited quantities (5000 boxes) as a 6 x 46 vitola in 2009. The cigar was a hit and landed the number fifteen spot on Cigar Aficionado’s Best of 2009 list. Some say it was the best Dominican Partagas ever released. I first came across this stick at my local Brick & Mortar about a year ago. After having one, I immediately bought every last one they had and squirrelled them away. The following excerpt is from my tasting notes of the original release;
Balanced and smooth, flavors include wood and a classic Cameroon spice with a nice cherry sweetness on the finish. There are hints of pepper. Perfect burn and draw. Fantastic stick!
Sadly, there are only two remaining in my humidor. I have been keeping a watchful eye out for more with the hopes of stumbling upon a dusty box in the corner of some random B&M or online retailer. Over the Summer, while I searched online for more, I came across the following press release from General Cigar;
Benji Menendez is a true a legend whose storied career in the premium cigar business spans more than 50 years. The 2009 limited release of his namesake Master Series earned the cigar a spot in Cigar Aficionado’s coveted Top 25 cigars of the year and depleted the supply from tobacconists’ humidors. In honor of the industry’s most beloved cigar master, General Cigar proudly presents a one-time issuance of the “Toro” front mark, protected in a handsome “book” box to add to the discerning cigar smoker’s collection. This special offering will be unveiled in November, for a suggested retail price of $124.99.
So after patiently waiting for five months, I was ecstatic to get my hands on the re-release at my local Brick and Mortar last week. This release is in a larger vitola (6 x 54) and while I am unsure how many gift boxes are available, they still seem widely available on the internet. Let’s see what this re-release has to offer.
|Origin: Dominican Republic
Binder: Habano Connecticut
Filler: Dominican Republic (piloto cubano), Nicaragua (Esteli Ligero and Ometepe)
Size: 6 x 54
MSRP: $124.99 (Gift Box of 12 Cigars)
The cigar is uniformly firm and has a spicy scent. One thing I immediately notice when comparing it the original release, is the larger size of the cigar and the appearance of the wrapper. The wrapper appears think, heavy, and strong. A slightly lighter shade from the original, it contains the same toothy and oily appearance. The pre-light draw is full of spicy tobacco flavor and seems perfect. The cigar band remains unchanged and is identical to the original.
The first third opens with wood and spice. The draw is a little tighter than I prefer but this is more of a personal preference as it does not seem to hinder the burn. There is a fantastic amount of spice on the retrohale, which is very enjoyable. The finish is short but smooth. The ash is holding about an inch and the the burn is a little jagged. It is at about this point I begin to detect that familiar cherry sweetness on the finish. This is one of the reasons I loved the original release and I am happy it has made an appearance. The stick is pouring smoke at this point.
The second third begins with the same flavor profile. The flavors are very balance but I am feeling a bit of a nicotine kick at this point. All the same I am enjoying the finish and large amounts of smoke on each draw. The spice is not as strong as I remember and I question if the larger ring gauge and consequential, lower wrapper to filler ratio, may be at fault. The ash is holding for about an inch before falling and the burn has straightened itself out. The cherry finish is becoming more dominant as the second third ends.
At the onset of the last third, the Cameroon spice really kicks up a notch and I am really enjoying it when I pass the smoke through my sinus’. The burn and draw continue to be great and I nub the stick. The nub remains cool and firm.
Partagas did a great job with the re-release of the blend. Although I feel I enjoyed the original 6 x 46 size more. I thought the Cameroon spice was a little more muted in this release and the cherry sweetness was more dominant. It is difficult to say if it was due to the size difference or just the two years of age on the 2009 release. I do think the re-release, like the original, will only get better with age. Consequently, I am going to give the 2011 Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series a Stogie Geeks Rating of “Box Worthy”. If you enjoy the unique spice of a Cameroon wrapper, the 12 count box is certainly worth the MSRP. You may want to act quickly, however, as I am sure these will go fast.