“An Ideal Habano for Smokers”


The Partagas Lusitanias Gran Reserva 2007 is a cigar that endured “an aging process of five and six years in the warehouses in different kinds of volado, seco, ligero and capote. It’s a special blend of exquisite scent and packed with all the features of a cigar that hadn’t been rolled in Cuba for ages,” said Arnaldo Bichot, the master blender of this vitola due out during the course of the 15th Habano Festival.

According to Mr. Bichot, the all-out aging of the leaves is important, and so is the selection of seasoned cigar rollers for this job. “The tasting was done and people were very pleased by the strength, the scent and the sweet taste of the cigar. Right now, as far as I’m concerned, this is an exquisite and excellent product,” he insists before letting us in on some of his keys to the job as a blender.

Partagas relies on the finest tobacco harvested in San Luis and San Juan y Martinez, in Pinar del Rio’s Vuelta Abajo, therefore knowing the regions well is one of the main features any good blender must have. In addition, knowing “where the product is headed for and how to give it the strength and aroma it needs, which is what actually defines its quality.”

For any Habano to come out in “divine conditions” is important “to make a compound based on percentages, not by means of reckoning or barrels because they can be rendered inaccurate,” Bichot explains. “We can say that if you smoke that Lusitanias today, and then puff on it the following year you’re going to feel the same aroma, the same sweet taste, the same tobacco quality,” he adds. 

Born in a family of tobacco planters and harvesters, Bichot has left behind the basic processes of wick removal and leaf collection, and has spent most of his life dealing with the raw materials and the wrappers. That explains his passion for the job. “The first thing you need is love for the job, let alone the quality of the product. So, when you’re going to roll what we call the cigar cannon, you have to lay down the leaves correctly to clinch a good burn and even taste, avoiding uneven burning on the sides. That plays a major role, not to mention the kind of blend you can come up with and the number of leaves it might more or less take. The important thing here is how you get the job done,” he points out.