Cigar brands come and cigar brands go. But once in a while a cigar brand comes back, and sometimes it’s for another attempt to get it to stick in the market. In this case it’s Particulares, a brand that traces its history back to Cuba in 1895, and two men named Segundo Lopez and Alonso Menendez.
The latter name should be familiar to some cigar smokers, possibly because he is credited with being the individual responsible for bringing the Montecristo brand to prominence, or possibly because his son is Benji Menendez, a noted figure in the modern cigar world who retired a few years ago after more than 60 years in the industry.
When he acquired Montecristo, the elder Menendez had two far more successful brands, Byron and Particulares, the latter of which shared its name with a factory owned by Lopez, who was the original owner of the Montecristo brand after he registered it in 1935.
While much of the history of the Particulares brand has been lost to history—or possibly just not put on the internet yet—it eventually resurfaced by way of Pedro Martín, who sold it to Casa Fernandez in the early 2000s. Casa Fernandez has sold the brand under the Particulares Reserva name since acquiring it, but it never became a humidor staple on a national level. One company is trying to change that, Sindicato Cigar Group, which was established in 2013 by a group of retailers who wanted to become cigar brand owners.
Sindicato announced that Particulares would be reintroduced to the cigar world at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, though the retailer collective wouldn’t own the brand, instead becoming its exclusive distributor and marketer.
The refreshed line borrows artwork from the original while the blend is made up of all Nicaraguan tobacco with a corojo wrapper and production handled by Casa Fernandez’s Tabacaos Valle de Jalapa S.A. factory, and while not explicitly stated one would have to think it contains a good bit of AGANORSA tobacco.
It is being released in seven sizes split into two batches of release. The #1 (6 1/4 x 48, $7.95), Deliciosos (6 x 54, $8.50), Belvederas (7 x 52, $8.95) and Cesenta (6 x 60, $8.95) were the first to arrive, while the Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 48, $7.75), Robusto (5 x 52, $7.95) and Belicoso (6 1/8 x 52, $8.95) sizes were shipped in the second round. All of the sizes come in 21-count boxes.
- Cigar Reviewed: Particulares #1
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacaos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade Grown Corojo
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Grand Corona
- MSRP: $7.95 (Boxes of 21, $166.95)
- Release Date: August 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Simply by looking at the cigar, I can’t say I would have guessed that the wrapper was Nicaraguan, though the fact that it is a shade grown corojo explains its lighter-than-your-average-Nicaraguan color. However, don’t let the phrase shade grown lead you to think of light Connecticut leaves; this wrapper is a slightly oily and well-tanned version of that, several shades darker than its domestic relative and ripe with small, flat veins that create a web of lines and a fine texture on the fingers. The cigar has a slight press and is uniformly firm from head to foot with a slight amount of give. I get a pretty distinct note of cream off the foot, with the associated sweetness to boot and occasional hints of light fruits such as apple and banana. There’s also a bit of sweet wheat on the second cigar that is quite appealing, especially if you’re a fan of wheat bread, while the third has aromatics on par with certain pipe tobaccos and some caramel and clove notes. The cold draw is either spot-on or just to the firm side of ideal with a mellow flavor offering; the creamy undertone is still present with notes of peanut butter and just a touch of black pepper, though sweetness can be found occasionally and makes for a very pleasant introduction.
The first puffs of the Particulares #1 have me thinking more of a Connecticut wrapped cigar due to some sourdough bread notes, but the pepper that quickly establishes itself is almost undeniably Nicaraguan, and the cigar pulls my senses in two directions due to the light, thin body that at times tastes like pizza dough, and the tongue-tingling pepper that is quickly making itself known. It’s the latter that pushes the sourness out fairly quickly, a win in one regard, a possible loss if you’re on the pepper averse end of the spectrum. Through the time when the first clump of ash breaks off, it’s a mix of pepper on toasted white bread, a fairly dry but enjoyable combination that if nothing less, sets the stage for some interesting developments. Sweetness is the biggest variable and variant in the early goings of the Particulares, and its best form comes by way of the aroma, which finds the pizza dough note coming back, though there can be a bit of banana that makes its way to the taste buds. The burn and draw are both fantastic with more than adequate smoke throughout this section, while the cigar continues to do a dance between mild-medium and medium-plus; the body and core flavors lean towards the former, but the steady incorporation of pepper nudges the profile to the latter.
The second third does a quick return to the flavors present at the start of the cigar, as the sourdough bread comes back for a few puffs, and while the word sour doesn’t always convey the best of mental imagery, it works here as an accent note that thankfully doesn’t stay around too long. When it fades away, the cigar begins to show a good bit of earthy terroir, as the flavor becomes marked by rock and a lingering aftertaste that leaves a bit to be desired. At the midway point, the cigar has allowed pepper to really take control of the flavor, and for as much of a good job as it has done keeping the pepper clean to this point, a bit of char enters that leaves a less than ideal residual taste on the tongue and into the back of the throat. It’s by far a much fuller, much gruffer cigar than where it started, with the char slowly morphing into a serious earth note that has some notes of volcanic soil and imparts a decent hit of strength to the system. The burn and draw continue to be solid, with no complaints about the smoke production either.
The Particulares continues its trek into medium-full territory at the start of the final third, and the physical aspect of the cigar continues to be felt as nicotine seems to be creeping up and the flavor leaves a lingering sensation or pepper and rocky soil on the palate. It’s becoming easier to feel the heat of the cigar on the fingers, and a bit of that translates to the flavor, though there doesn’t seem to be any adverse effects. The creep towards medium-full seems to have arrived at its destination in the final two inches, as the cigar becomes rich with pepper that is prevalent on the palate and through the nose, even without a serious retrohale. While there are some distinct notes of earth, pepper and a bit of dry wood that flits in and out, this is by no means the flavorful cigar I have tasted, as there isn’t much depth or complexity in how the cigar wraps up, and if anything has me reaching for some water with which to rinse off the palate.
- While I wouldn’t call the band overly busy, there is a lot going on. You have the Particulares word mark, plus the words Cremas, Nicaragua, Calidad Garantizada and Totalamente A Mano all front and center, plus marks of Sindicato and Hecho a Mano on the backside and other imagery and decoration throughout the band.
- Sindicato ran a consumer promotion where customers who purchased Particulares cigars received a replica Cuban license plate.
- I visited the Sindicato booth at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, which you can read about here.
- In addition to Particulares, the company released the Sindicato Masters Series by Rocky Patel this year.
- According to CigarCyclopedia.com, the 2008 version of Particulares used a 2006 Corojo wrapper and criollo 98 filler leaves. The site also notes that “many editions of Particulares have been on the U.S. market.”
- I love having the discussion about what terroir tastes like, and I think it’s fitting to bring it up here. I love what good Mexican San Andrés has to offer in that department, but in the case of the Particulares, I find some of the notes to be off-putting. It’s also worth noting that you really have to understand the specifics of the cigar you’re smoking to understand exactly what kind of terroir you’re tasting, as it would be unfair to make a blanket statement about Nicaraguan tobacco based on this cigar, as many Nicaraguan varietals and regions offer great terroir.
- This article from Cigar Clan has some additional background about Menendez and touches on the Particulares brand.
- The National Cigar Museum has photos of a Particulares de Segundo Lopez y Ca. book-shaped box from around 1900.
- Casa Fernández—which is owned by the same family as TABSA, the factory which produces this cigar—advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsor Corona Cigar Co. carries the Particulares line.
On the whole, the Particulares #1 is a good if not very good cigar, though the duality that the cigar has in terms of body and strength stands out as its biggest drawback. While the body of the cigar stays thin for the better part of the first half, the pepper wants to take it into medium-plus territory, while the two do a better but not perfect job in maintaining lockstep in the second half. It's the incongruence of the two directives that ends up being my main issue with the cigar; there are moments where I find myself considering a box purchase, and there are others where I find myself wanting to put the cigar down and move onto something else. For the most part I am impressed by the Particulares, intrigued as to what the larger ring gauges might offer and confident in recommending giving it a try or two should you come across it.