Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review: Bulging Midriffs, Skunk Stripes & Some Really Old Tobacco

No sooner had I wrapped up my review of the adorable Connecticut Shade version of Breakfast Tacos by Rojas Cigars, and I suddenly found myself reaching for a similarly shaped stick.

This was by no means a head-to-head comparison test or anything. I just happened to open my "review humidor" the next morning and found the squat cigar seen here sitting front and center. Oh, how serendipitous...

Its striped siding, stubby stance, and portly waistline may entice a giggle or two, but the blend behind the Partagas Añejo is rather serious. That añejo tagline isn't just for show fellow stogie smokers, for this blend comes encased in some of the oldest wrapper leaf to ever grip a non-Cuban member of the Partagas cigar collection.

To be specific, you are looking at a vintage African Cameroon wrapper leaf from the 1998 crop year, and a secondary, US-bred Connecticut shade-grown wrapper from 2013 playing the lighter accent. 

It's also a blend that is only released once a year due to there being finite amounts of these precious leaves left in existence. So yeah, pretty serious stuff for something so small and silly-looking. Additionally, the stick seen here happens to be last year's release. So even though the blend remains the same it's a different production run.

[Buy 5-Pack]

Unlit Impressions  

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

Oh, where to start with this one? From its tapered, tulip-like foot, and fat-ass 60 ring-gauge first third barrel lines, to the spiral barber pole dual wrapper and rounded cap, this stick is an oddity in almost every way. 

I like odd cigars, so to me this stick is a lot of fun to smoke, and I have found myself popping out my phone while smoking just to see how it looks on me. As expected, I resemble some form of alley cat villain in a cartoon when I chief one of these blends. Cool beans.

Barrel aromas are distinctly leather and cedar, with a barnyard animal smell and some mixed dark tea tones striking me sideways at first. Smells from the foot are sweet gingerbread, spiced and stewed Christmas fruits, and a salty pretzel dough finish. The latter of these will prove to be one of my favorite attributes of this cigar. 

Cold pulls are gingerbread and are delicate in the levels of earthen tastes they produce. Nothing wild, but clean and quite appetizing.

Now as for that band... it looks completely out of place to me and is entirely too large for the length of the cigar and its tightly tapered nether regions. It also sits too far down the barrel, which means it rubs your lips when you take a pull. 

Initial Smoke    

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review


Mixed peppercorn medley montage waning, your tongue starts to experience a dry woody note that is sheltered by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There's a chalk-like dryness, and the woodiness is light and ambiguous in its heritage.

1st Half    

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

As the sweetness of the tobacco blend builds, some gingerbread flavors form. There's some salted pretzel flavor here, but it's not enough to make this taste the star of the show.

As the Cameroon wrapper side of the barber pole wrapper heats up, a mild caress of almonds and dank cedar starts to show. Unfortunately, the gingerbread tastes from earlier have faded, leaving you with a woodsy, medium-bodied pillow of smoke for your palate to rest upon. 

2nd Half    

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

As the steeply sloped second third speeds into the final third, dark walnuts and smoky mesquite firewood form the boldest section of the cigar. There's some spiciness to be felt here, even though it is more white pepper power than black or red. 

There are some darker soil notes spread around, and the nuttiness hangs on every pull, but without those gingerbread tastes from the first third it feels a little lopsided. Much like the proportions this figurado forms.

Parting Puffs    

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

Vanilla bean rolls onto the scene last minute. A surprise appearance that should have been there sooner, but is still welcoming to see. This makes the tail end of the smoke feel richer and sweeter than ever, despite it still being a medium-bodied cigar with some campfire char starting to form.

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw  

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

As many of you already know, I am not one to break out the torch the moment I see an uneven burn. I believe that giving a cigar the chance to right itself is part of the excitement of smoking. But this specific cigar vitola was more annoying than exciting.

Although the ash was clean and both the draw and smoke production were commendable, the cigar struggled to stay on track at virtually every key point. All told, four touch-ups were required, with the last one ruining whatever delicacies were left to that duo of vintage cigar wrappers. Even in parting puffs I encountered issues, with the cigar tunneling and turning hot, before suddenly extinguishing itself.

While the other cigar I smoked in the autumn was not as much of a mess, it too burned unevenly and caused me to retouch it more than I would have liked. I wonder if this has anything to do with the Esplendido vitola itself, and not the barber pole wrapper or any internal section of the cigar.

Final Thoughts  

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

Like numerous other vintage tobacco-laden premium cigar blends I have smoked over the years, the Partagas Añejo Esplendido suffers from performance issues when it comes time to make the magic happen. I hear that these things sometimes happen with age and that there's a pill for that now.

Joking aside, the flavors of the cigar itself, and its clean (and delicious) transitions do help earn the Partagas Añejo points as a blend. Aromatics as well are rather nice, and the aftertaste of that nutty, woodsy vintage Cameroon wrapper is lip-smackingly good.

And despite its performance issues and bulgy band, I like the shape and styling of the cigar, with its whimsical lines making those barber pole stripes all the more memorable. But unless you are hellbent on chiefing on a miniature bowling pin, I would say opt for the petit robusto vitola we sell instead, because chances are you will get a far cleaner burn with a parejo. 

Finally, it's worth mentioning that these sticks only run $31.45 a fiver, making this blend an affordable, fun alternative to the run-of-the-mill Cameroon and/or Connecticut Shade cigar. Just be sure to ditch that clown shoe-sized band before lighting the Esplendido unless you fancy the feeling of paper sticking to your lips.

Partagas "Añejo Esplendido" Review

Flavor, Aroma & Transitions


Depth & Complexity


Construction, Burn & Physical Appeal


Backstory & Branding


Overall Balance & Repeatability


Stogie Specs


Partagas "Añejo Esplendido"


Cameroon (1998 Crop)

USA Connecticut Shade (2013 Crop)


Vega Especial (Dominican Republic)


Dominican Republic & Mexico


Dominican Republic


4½" x 60 "Figurado"



Pairing Drink

Cranberry & Ginger Honey Herb Tea



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