In September 1998 Hurricane Georges ripped through the Carribbean and caused widespread destruction, including crop damage in the Dominican Republic. Among the beseiged plantations was the now famous Chateau de la Fuente, where wrapper leaf for Fuente’s Opus X is grown and harvested.
Two years later the legacy of the storm was borne out in a shortage of Opus X wrapper, but instead of halting production altogether, Carlos Fuente Jr. directed the use of a different wrapper — a hearty maduro broadleaf. In this way improvisation triumphed over adversity and the Arturo Fuente Añejo was created.
The filler blend is said to be a combination of the blends used for Opus X, Don Carlos, and Hemingway cigars, all of which are themselves secret — which makes the Añejo blend an enigma wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a Connecticut broadleaf that has been aged for three to four years, including six to eight months in cognac barrels. (The original release used wrappers aged for seven years, hence the name Añejo, meaning aged.)
Current sizes in production:
- No. 46 – 5 5/8 x 46
- No. 48 – 7 x 48
- No. 49 – 7 5/8 x 49
- No. 50 – 5 1/4 x 50
- No. 55 – 6 x 55
- No. 77 “Shark” – 5 5/8 x 54
I usually try to smoke several cigars, preferably from different boxes, to prepare for a review, but in this case I was stymied by both the price and the availability of the Añejo. Typically these are released twice a year — in the summer around Father’s Day and again around the winter holidays. And even though they are reasonably priced by the manufacturer, consumer demand pushes the shelf price into the stratosphere. MSRP plus my state tax should place this stick in the $11 – 12 USD range. I paid $18 for one No. 48 last summer. That’s a bit rich for my blood, so I’m reviewing this cigar based on one single experience.
The Arturo Fuente Añejo is presented in a cedar sheath that seems to be more aromatic than most — I’m not sure if it’s by design or by accident, but it lends the wrapper an intense scent of sweet cedar. The wrapper itself is a moderately oily and rich looking oscuro.
In a pre-light pull the draw is firm to tight, and the flavor is of wood and straight sweet tobacco.
I was expecting the Añejo to be a big powerful smoke like its sibling Opus X, but this was not the case with the churchill sized No. 48. Instead what I found was a civilized and genteel cigar with an elegant perfume.
It starts up very smoothly with a good dose of sweet spice — light anise and sweet cedar. The finish is short and the aftertaste evanescent. It draws very well despite my initial pre-light impression — it’s firm, but the volume of smoke is effective and cool. The burn is even and consistent from start to finish.
The 48 doesn’t undergo a lot of transition during the course of the smoke. It grows in intensity, but it’s still playing the same song at a louder volume. Fortunately for me this is a song I really like. It starts out with moderately mild body and soon becomes medium-bodied for the duration. The last third does become a little bit richer, the spices turn from sweet aromatics to smatterings of pepper, and the aftertaste takes on a little more gravity. The finish stays crisp and clean to the band.
And from first light to last ash this cigar puts out a beautifully elegant aroma — it’s floral at times, cedary at others, and really enjoyable throughout. It reminds me a lot of the Fuente Work of Art maduro in this respect, but the Añejo is perhaps more refined. That could be due to the size difference rather than the blend, but I find the similarity unmistakeable.
I can certainly see why Lucky7 made one of the Anejo cigars his best of 2007. So far I think this is the best cigar I’ve smoked this year. But the price… Doh!
Vitolas.net — a fantastic source for Fuente information and trivia.