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While Ernest Hemingway certainly had a connection to the cigar Shangri-La that is Cuba, he wasn’t known to be a huge fan of the cigar. Apart from his literary oeuvre that would earn him a Nobel Prize, he was known more for his prodigious appetite for alcohol than for smoking cigars. But for cigar fanatics the name “Hemingway” brings to mind something other than the writer — the Fuente made cigar named in his honor. The figurado shaped cigar with a tapered head and perfecto foot is known to most as the “Hemingway” style.
But this shape did not originate with the Arturo Fuente Hemingway series – according to Carlos Fuente, Jr., this shape is a classic Cuban perfecto that was popular from the 1920’s through the 50’s. Its popularity declined thereafter, and most of the Cuban masters who knew how to make this difficult figurado either retired or passed away. But then around 1980, Carlos Fuente Sr. recovered the “Hemingway” molds his father had stored in their Ybor City factory and recreated these cuban perfectos.
At first the Fuentes made these new perfectos exclusively for their own enjoyment. But in 1983 they introduced the first Hemingway to the market: the 6 x 47 Signature. Five years later came the Classic and the Masterpiece, which in a 1997 interview Carlos Jr. said was one of the rarest and most challenging cigars they make:
…the Hemingway Masterpiece is without question one of the rarest sizes of all Arturo Fuente cigars. Since the day it was first introduced, it has been blended and rolled by the same two brothers, who work together to make this unusual and challenging shape (perfecto, 9 1/4 by 52). The Cameroon wrapper for the Masterpiece is so difficult to obtain that we literally have to go through bales until we are able to select a few precious leaves that have both the size and the quality to be used on a Hemingway cigar. When the wrapper is not available, the brothers make Hemingway Classics. In a good year, we consider ourselves lucky if we’re able to produce as many as 10,000 Masterpieces.
The Short Story was created some time after that because it was “getting difficult to smoke in certain areas.” Yes, it was, and things have not improved since then. And even though this unusual looking figurado is one of the most difficult shapes for a roller to make, it was thereafter widely copied and imitated by other cigar manufacturers.
The wrappers used for natural Hemingway cigars are African Cameroon; the maduros are much more rare but are really exquisite. The Dominican filler and binder are together simply known as “the Hemingway blend.”
Three of the figurados in the Hemingway series — the Work of Art, Best Seller, and Short Story — have pyramidal cylinders, while the original Signature, Classic and Masterpiece are modified parejos. The Short Story is the smallest of the lot, measuring only four inches long with a ring gauge of 49 at its widest point, narrowing to 46. It’s an exotic looking cigar.
The Cameroon wrapper on this cigar looks a little drab at first, but I’ve noticed that it changes quite a bit once lit — this wrapper must be really sensitive to heat. A minute or two after lighting oils come to the surface and the wrapper shines.
The color is consistent and there is the occasional glue smear. The roll is firm and regular, and the draw is just right. Occasionally a cigar with this type of foot will offer resistance until the burn reaches the main body of the stick, but I haven’t encountered this problem with the Short Story.
The perfecto “nipple” makes this an extremely easy cigar to light. One match is usually all it takes. The burn can be a little uneven until the cinder has reached the main shank of the cigar, but from that point it evens out. The ash is firm — with any luck you won’t need to ash this cigar but once, if at all.
The Short Story is surprisingly complex for such a small cigar. It opens up with a strong sweet cedar flavor and a touch of mint, the hallmark of Cameroon wrapper. The smoke is medium to full in texture with a spicy tang.
After a few more puffs the flavor gets earthier and there is a touch of black pepper on the tongue. This is a medium bodied cigar in terms of both smoke density and power, but it has a lot of character. The aroma is a bit piney — sweet and spicy.
The finish grows a little bit toward the end, the aroma weakens somewhat, and the flavors muddy slightly. And then it’s done. That’s the only problem with this cigar — it’s over way too soon. But that’s the power of the short story, literally. I’ve always preferred “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” to The Sun Also Rises — the economy required seems to concentrate and magnify the power of Hemingway’s style. You could say the same thing of Fuente’s Short Story.
So this is a really wonderful little cigar. Even if you’ve smoked the larger sizes, I’d urge everyone to try the Short Story as well. I can’t think of a better 20 -30 minute smoke in its class.
Final Score: 91