Whether or not you are familiar with names such as Casa Fernández, Tabacalera Tropical, AGANORSA, or TABSA, most will make a quick-connect with household names such as Pete Johnson and his Tatuaje brand, Dion Giolito and his Illusione Cigars brand, Kyle Gellis and his Warped Cigars brand, or the famed García family of cigar crafters.
And while the latter names and brands are among the industry’s most electrifying—at least in the realm of craft and boutique offerings—the former may be the most under-appreciated operations to even some of the more astute aficionados (although the pendulum seems to be swinging).
A (not so) quick breakdown of the plethora of brands, factories, and consortiums mentioned above begins with Pedro Martin and his (then) Tropical Tobacco brand. Pedro is your archetypal story of Cuban refugee-turned American cigar crafter—using his knowledge of tobacco to contribute to the eventual rise of non-Cuban premium smoking experiences we know today. His Tropical Tobacco company, founded in the late 70s, was eventually bought by Eduardo Fernández and his mystery-enshrouded Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A. (AGANORSA) consortium—ushering the change to “Tabacalera Tropical”, and bringing Pedro Martin along for the ride. Fernández had bought some of Nicaragua’s most primo plots of tobacco-producing land in quite the opportune moment, where the nationalization of private property and businesses by Sandinista government in Nicaragua had been overthrown—leaving many of the previous state-run (TAINSA) farms for the taking. Fernández used agricultural experts from Cuba (including notable names like Arsenio Ramos and Jacinto Iglesias), later including Pedro, to turn AGANORSA into one of the two largest growers (along with Plasencia Tobacco) of Nicaraguan leaf.
AGANORSA is associated with its own brands (Casa Fernández and Tabacalera Tropical) and factories, including Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas (Honduras), Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) (Nicaragua), and Casa Fernández Miami (USA)—all of which focus primarily on AGANORSA leaf.
Now to bring it all full-circle, Dion Giolito of Illusione was introduced to Tropical Tobacco by Pete Johnson sometime around 2005—as Dion had recently started his own cigar shop (Fumare) and was looking for a manufacturer for a house blend cigar. Of course, Pete has worked with the García family on 99% of his cigar ventures, beginning in 2003 at the García’s Miami-based El Rey de Los Habanos factory. Now, some may remember the García’s settling a slightly messy lawsuit in 2011, providing them full ownership of the aforementioned Miami factory and their Nicaraguan-based Tabacalera Cubana factory. This lawsuit was between the García’s and, you guessed it, Eduardo Fernández, who’d formerly owned a 50% stake in each factory (who ever said there wasn’t drama in the world of premium cigars?).
Dion Giolito has gone on to be the biggest proponent of AGANORSA tobacco, moving from working with Pedro Martin and Tropical Tobacco, to the Honduran-based Tabacos Raíces Cubanas factory, and currently pimping Fernández’s hottest factory: TABSA. This has lead to a surge towards the equally sought-after AGANORSA tobacco and TABSA factory, including notable brands like Sindicato Cigars, Warped Cigars, and Foundation Cigar Company.
Particulares #1 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade-Grown Corojo
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: TABSA (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6¼″ × 48 “#1” (toro)
- Price: $7.95 (MSRP)
One of the reasons for the rather lengthy introduction to this particular cigar is the unique collaboration for the latest incarnation of this age-old brand. Particulares was originally created in 1895 as a Cuban cigar brand and accompanying factory. Both were acquired in 1935 by Alonso Menéndez, who would later go on to introduce the legendary Montecristo brand, using the same Particulares factory. The Particulares brand ceased production in the midst of the Cuban Revolution, and the rights were eventually acquired by Pedro Martin of Tropical Tobacco.
Particulares has seen multiple incarnations, including a Honduran blend and, most recently, a Nicaraguan puro (using a dark, Colorado Maduro Corojo wrapper). Of course, Fernández eventually gained the rights to the brand and has teamed with Sindicato (of which Fernández currently produces Sindicato’s eponymously named series throughout their USA and Nicaraguan factories) to breath new life into the historic Particulares name.
Sindicato appears to be taking the creative reins on the project, with Fernández holding onto the naming rights, as well as handling the cigar’s production at the TABSA factory. The cigars attempt to replicate the original feel of the brand, using Cubanesque dress boxes and logo design inspired from the original, pre-embargo brand. The cigar’s overall blend follows suit, using a Cuban-seed, Nicaraguan puro blend to emulate a classic, Cubanesque profile.
The cigars launched shortly after the 2016 IPCPR show in Las Vegas, being introduced in four sizes: Delicioso (6 x 54 | $8.50), Cesenta (6 x 60 | $8.95), #1 (6¼ x 48 | $7.95), and Belvederes (7 x 52 | $8.95). Particulares is expected to expand to seven sizes in 2017, adding robusto, toro, and corona gorda sizes.
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First impression? This is a big cigar! Sure, toros are one of the two most popular sizes, but all four Particulares vitolas are six inches and up; meaning, pound-for-pound, this is the smallest cigar in the lineup!
It’s a nice look they’ve achieved here—the boxes having the ornate trim lining the dress box’s edges, a detailed vista showcasing the original Particulares factory on the top and inside of the box’s lid, and a simplistic, retro-inspired band. And while the overall presentation seems to get the theme across successfully, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of that band. I get what they were going for, but it’s just too polished and glossy to pull it off. The sub-band in particular, which reads “Calidad Garantizada” and “Totalmente A Mano” (“Guaranteed Quality” and “Entirely by Hand”), is my main gripe with the look. Most importantly, it’s not a sub-band at all. Realistically, there’s really no reason to include a sub-band on this cigar in the first place—it’s not an offshoot of another cigar, it’s the first release in the series. And because it’s a part of the man band, it includes the same glossy texture as the primary band—cheapening the look. If it were matte in texture and subtly tucked under the primary band, I’d be praising them right now for their authentic recreation of this nostalgic theme. Hey, it’s the little things, right?
But the cigar itself is very attractive. The tobacco gleams with hues of gold and slightly worn brass, having extremely light veins that are only noticeable on close inspection. Construction is on point, as expected, having nearly invisible seams, triple cap, and a nice feel in the hand from the semi-box-press shape. It’s a medium bunch and medium weight in the hand, having a springy construction with no soft spots throughout.
The cigar’s cap cuts cleanly off, giving way to a medium-firm pre-light draw, showing light and papery notes, generic tobacco, and a little spice in the back of the throat. The aroma is much better—here there are light notes of brown sugar on the wrapper, and intriguing elements of cherry and chocolate soda on the cigar’s foot.
Particulares begins with dark spices and a short zinging sensation in the nostrils with each retrohale. There is also an underlying sweetness and a tangy finish, but this is quickly overpowered with zesty spices. The draw feels great, producing a medium amount of smoke on each puff—an overall experience of medium body, mild strength, and medium flavor.
As the burn-line works its way down in a consistent, yet wavy pattern, the smoke output begins to die down. This is manageable, but eventually results in a touchup at the one-inch mark. And the cigar responds positively, livening up with much more flavor and complexity. Peppercorn, toastiness, a little contrasting toffee note, and a slight anise sensation (after a minor inhale) can all be found. The experience is altogether classic, having no standout flavor but catering more towards a refined profile.
The initial look of excellent construction seems to be holding true—save for a minor touchup—with a lightly flakey ash that holds two inches before falling. Throughout the cigar’s midsection, flavors develop in the form of white pepper in the retrohale and an excellent, bright note of nougat. Nearly every aspect has increased, with a medium-plus body, medium strength (and climbing), and medium-plus flavor.
There are additional notes of Graham crackers and an occasional sweet cream in the final third, but a slightly harsh vibe interrupts. After a final touchup (one touchup per third was the final tally), there is a tingling spice on the tongue and a creamy, Macadamia nuttiness.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Yes I would. The flavors are refined and classic (right up my alley), the construction is very good, and the price provides a better-than-average value—especially for the cigar’s large size. This was actually my main gripe with Particulares, that 6¼″ × 48 is the smallest vitola offered. The profile remained in the same basic realm throughout—with minor nuances that kept me interested—but I can’t help but feel a shorter size could provide the same experience in a more timely manner. I can easily see a less patient smoker getting bored after the first half, even though I still feel it’s worth your time in the end.
Bring on the corona gorda and robusto sizes! I could easily see one (or both) of these sizes increasing the Particulares’ score by one or two points…
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: medium roast pour-over coffee, cream soda, saison ale, whiskey eggnog, Merlot red wine
- Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack (then wait for the shorter vitolas in 2017)
- Classic profile
- Superb value
- Great draw
- Not dynamic enough to warrant long smoke time
- Three touch-ups
- Harshness in final third