Reviewed by Greg Mcewan (July 2000)
Lit this first of 3 examples up about 7 PM after a long and typically hard day at work. Sitting in my bar of choice with a nice glass of scotch and 3 drops of water. This rich chocolate colored firm to the touch Partagas 898 varnished and I sat at a little out of the way table in the corner. Put some money in the juke box and brought up some fresh Santana. I was getting ready. A pre-light sniff reveals a nice earthy aroma . Capped and lit this puppy..... shows early signs of promise . A lovely earthy flavor and a gentle spice . I like it already. Solid medium body , intoxicating full flavor , plenty of smoke and just the right amount of pull on the draw for my tastes. The bamba drifts through the air like the smoke around my unwinding mind... This is the better part of why I smoke cigars, and drink scotch, and love latin music !
After about a third of the cigar, the pepper starts to kick in and it is complimenting to the spice . I smoked this one right down to about two inches and at that point I had been "out-peppered" and had to bid it a fond farewell. Overall I rate this cigar right up there with some of the tastier Habanos I enjoy. Construction is flawless, burn is likewise and the flavors are outstanding. Full and very rich. While I smoke Partagas Series D# 4's , Presidentes, Shorts, and Lusitanias on a semi regular basis, these will be making their way into the regular rotation .On to the next mission!
Cigar # 2 Back to my favorite watering hole and on to the next Partagas 898: Another beauty that is exactly like the previous model. In other words lovely. My experience is very much the same. Rich dark earthy flavors, spice from heaven and pepper in just the right combination. Whoever blends these is really on the ball and a true craftsman. Another hour of smoking bliss and I'm beginning to regret I left the last example home as I would most likely have just went right on to number 3! Note to self: I am getting far too used to these..... (insert big grin here).
Cigar # 3 Well here I am on my last taste tester cigar and I miss them already. This one I decided to savor on my back deck on a nice sunny Sunday morn. It is a glorious day with little to no wind and the smoke is wafting around me filling the air with thick pungent aroma. A cup of Kona coffee or 3 will see me through this wonderful cigar. It's hard to beat a really fine cigar ,an excellent coffee , my two trusty Labrador retrievers at my feet and the calming view of the short hills from my back yard. This fine Partagas 898 was in no way disappointing following in the footsteps of it's brethren. Good ole Partagas earth ,spice and pepper. Great construction and burn with the dark gray ash holding at fairly steady. I thank C.GARS Ltd for the chance to sit down and truly enjoy these fine cigars. It is an experience I am sure to duplicate in the future as I am now completely sold on this vitola ! Thanks again guys, Greg McEwan
Reviewed by Joe Gellman
This cigar is not to be confused with the 8-9-8 Cabinet Selection (Corona Grande); the "varnished" vitola is a lonsdale (Dalia) and measures 43 x 6 3/4 (1.7cm x 17cm). The two are as different as apples and oranges.
This vitola gets it name from the manner of packaging in rows of 8, 9, and 8. The box is lightly varnished and keeps a good seal. Thus, in order to age the cigars it is advisable to open the lid of the box every week or so. One complaint I have about this vitola is that the two end cigars always seem to have a slight indentation where the ribbon is secured. I generally take the two end cigars out of the ribbon and lay them on top of it.
Another interesting fact about this vitola is that there are no date or factory codes on the box but, rather, the codes are on the cardboard box in which the varnished box is presented. My particular box bore the code "O.N.S.U.-TLP-03." Thus, my selection was from the Tobacos Lazaro Pena Factory in the San Antonio region and was boxed in January, 1998. Perelman, in his "Pocket Cyclopedia of Havana Cigars" wrongly states that this cigar is manufactured at the Fernando Perez German and Heroes de Moncada factories). I mention this to note that I have aged this cigar for some time in order to allow sufficient aging to develop, something I consider absolutely necessary for this particular cigar. The box does, however, bear the other usual burnished comments ("Habanos s.a.", "HECHO EN CUBA", and "Totalmente a mano").
This cigar is not a piece of art. The wrapper is a little rough looking, unlike most other cigars (the Cazadores also are rough looking, in my opinion). The wrapper is a rich chocolate brown and long in developing oils though, they are there. I find that this selection does not have an exacting hand in the banding and, frankly, that is all the negatives I can say about this cigar.
The cigar is rich, full bodied, and not for the timid smoker. All the delight one associates with Havanas of the 50's and 60's is present in this vitola, and, quite frankly, it is a cigar that every lover of the leaf ought to have in his stock. To be without this cigar is to miss the old world charm of a rich smoke. I suggest one smoke this cigar after a lengthy afternoon meal or supper.
Each cigar was rolled quite well, the foot and head on each being the same for the entire box. A close look at the foot reveals the thoroughness of the packing of the filler and binder. This cigar lit up quickly and evenly and ample smoke was produced without much effort.
The aroma initially produced is distinct from most other Havanas, and those of you who have been smoking for some time will delight in this fact. The flavor is powerful yet not overbearing. The taste is spicy but not sufficient to cause one any problems (as with some cigars that are Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpeppery', this one is just Ã¢â‚¬Ëœspicy', perhaps a better word would be Ã¢â‚¬Ëœrobust' or Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwell seasoned').
After about 30 minutes you can taste a slight saltiness from the wrapper but not enough to deter the smoker; it is rather pleasant when combined with the robustness and strength.
About half-way through the cigar you will note that the flavors gradually mellow, but do not be fooled by this. The last half of the cigar produces heady aromas and the flavor becomes fuller and has a grand finish. As a matter of taste, I cannot think of any other brand which has such utterly delightful fullness.
I highly recommend this cigar for everyone who has longed for the flavor of that which older lovers of the leaf have described. If you do not buy this cigar you are going to miss out on one of the finest examples of Old Havana. I implore everyone to have some stock to smoke.