There is a wide range of great cigars for every palate in the humidor at James & Sons Tobacconists, with many of the boutique and limited edition cigars selling quite well. There are also several exquisite sticks that are sometimes overlooked for one reason or another. On our Facebook page, we’ve been trying to highlight some of these hidden gems (including bargain-priced cigars) that don’t quite fly off the shelves, but we consider having been overlooked due to their high quality. That’s the case with the Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro Rothschild, which is masterfully crafted, delicious, and inexpensive (costing less than $10).
The Extra Oscuro (“blackish” or “dark” in Spanish) is a bold, full-flavored cigar crafted with a pitch-black U.S.A. Connecticut-grown Havana-seed Oscuro wrapper, La Vega Especial binder from the Dominican Republic, and a powerful blend of Ligero fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
Oscuro wrapper leaves are typically taken from the top priming or uppermost part of the tobacco plant. Oscuro provides a smaller, thicker and spicier leaf than traditional Connecticut Broadleaf. These leaves are sometimes also called the corona (“crown”) or medio tiempo (“half time,” meaning they’ve been left on the plant 50 percent longer). The extended exposure to sunlight causes the leaves to begin curing on the plants, creating darker, richer, and more flavorful leaves prior to the typical fermentation process.
After being harvested, the dark Connecticut-grown Partagas Oscuro leaves are fermented for a shorter time and at lower temperatures than typical broadleaf tobacco. After fermentation and before manufacturing, the Oscuro leaves are aged in barrels, which cause them to become even darker, almost totally black.
The cigar sampled for this review is a Rothschild size measuring 5¼” with a ring gauge of 50. It is constructed quite well, with a thick, oily, slightly veiny wrapper and tight seams (especially for the thickness of the leaf). To the pinch, it has uniform sponginess which provide just the right amount of draw when lit.
The special process required for the Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro’s tobacco results in an equally rare and unique flavor profile that is similar to some of the powerful, distinctive full-flavored sticks produced by Don “Pepin” Garcia’s Nicaraguan factory for Pete Johnson’s L’telier Imports under the Surrogates brand (such as the Bone Crusher, Animal Cracker, Skull Breaker cigars, which are also available from James & Sons Tobacconists). Partagas’ 1845 Extra Oscuro compares well to fine boutique brand cigars, and, at such an affordable price, is quite noteworthy.
After lighting the cigar, you can tell that the it is complex yet smooth, offering a unique blend of well-balanced flavors, including rich notes of charred wood, robust espresso, a touch of pepper, sweet black licorice, and leather. Thanks to the Oscuro tobacco wrapper and Ligero fillers, the complex, full flavors and long finish on the palate are reminiscent of the way a peaty Talisker Scotch, smoky Lapsang Souchong black tea, or blue English stilton cheese awakens and delights the palate. The finish or aftertaste is just as pleasing as when it first touches your lips.
The cigar produces a good amount of aromatic smoke that is a pleasure to take in. It burns evenly without requiring any relighting and has a white flaky ash.
If you’re looking for an affordable hidden gem in the humidor at James & Sons Tobacconists, the Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro Rothschild is one worth trying.