There are so many long-established cigar giants in the history of the industry that it can be hard to take the time to appreciate each one, but one company that stands out is Partagas, with one of the most fascinating origin stories in the history of the cigar game. Partagas has a long and complex background that is worth learning about if you appreciate what this company has brought to the table, as their popularity has persisted where so many contemporaries dropped the ball over the last several decades.
How It All Began
To fully understand the history of Partagas, we need to recognize that the company is not solely the Dominican name that we in the United States are familiar with alone. Currently, two separate companies operate under the Partagas name, although only the Dominican exports are permitted into the United States. Thus, even many experienced cigar enthusiasts have no idea what the other chapter of the brand offers.
Although the Dominican association has been strong with the company for ages now, the reality is that the brand did not start in the Dominican Republic at all. In fact, the company’s origins are traced back to Cuba prior to the Civil War by a Spanish immigrant, Don Jaime Partagas y Ravelo, in 1845 – a numeric stamp that has since become associated with the company due to the packaging. Settling in Havana, he set up a cigar factory in an effort to create the best cigar that the world has ever seen, and the commitment to follow through on his goals.
Don Jaime spent several years prior buying up tobacco farms throughout Cuba in order to have access to the finest crops and drive out competition in the process. As a result, by the time the brand was launched, he already had something of an empire at his disposal, including tobacco growing in the particularly fruitful region of Vuelta Abajo, an area that has been regarded as producing some of the best tobacco on earth. During this time, he developed fermentation and blending techniques that are still used today.
In 1868, he was murdered on one of his tobacco plantations, by a jealous man who believed that Don Jaime was having an affair with his wife. The entire Partagas operation was immediately left to his son Jose, who quickly sold it off to an interested banker named Jose Bances. However, while Bances saw the money that could be made off of the business, he knew absolutely nothing about cigars, and was confident that he could not continue the reputation of the brand due to his lack of experience.
The Next Era: The Cuban Revolution
With only the financial resources to continue the Partagas name, Bances enlisted the help of a new partner named Ramon Cifuentes Llano, who quickly bought out Bances and took over operations with much success. Once Cifuentes was seeing success with the Partagas business he had taken over, Fidel Castro seized his operations, and thus took control over the Partagas name under Cuba, which has technically remained the same since 1960.
Cifuentes, like many other cigar manufacturers, quickly fled to the United States. At last, in 1978, he received funding from the General Cigar Company to relaunch his version of Partagas cigars, which briefly operated in Jamaica before permanently relocating to the Dominican Republic.
Now, you can understand why two Partagas cigars exist. Cuba has maintained ownership of the original brand, technically speaking, for decades, but cigar connoisseurs know that only the Dominican relaunch of the brand has that special touch which represents all of the passion that went into creating the storied name back in 1845. The fact that the Partagas cigars sold in America have a tribute to the year of the launch speaks to the fact that the Dominican operators of the brand take pride in being the true successor of that which was started on a small Cuban farm almost 200 years ago.
Their Origin is Simply Amazing!
So, the next time you help yourself to a Partagas cigar, know that you’re savoring the result of centuries of perseverance, all to provide you with what the company originally set out to create: what they believe is the best cigar in the world.