A. Fuente Rosado Sun Grown Magnum R52

The original Arturo Fuente Sun Grown line is based on the familiar Gran Reserva blend, but with a Sumatra seed wrapper grown in Ecuador by the Oliva Tobacco Company. It’s a classic smoke, easily identified by the black band at the foot. It’s probably my favorite of the mainstream Fuente cigars, and I always try to have a few around.

When the original Sun Grown line was created, the wrappers intended for the blend were put aside in favor of a higher priming leaf. That cache of rejected wrapper leaf has been lying around for eight to ten years now, and it is now being put to use in the Rosado Magnum line. The lower priming leaf results in a flavor that is a little more mellow, less concentrated, and creamier than the standard Sun Grown wrapper.

The Sun Grown Rosado is distinguished from the original Sun Grown line by the white border at the bottom of the band (the original has a black border, and not so much gold.) It looks a little like the Añejo band.

Carlos Fuente Jr. told  Cigar Aficionado that “he intended to go old school with this blend, moving away from the power trend that he helped create.” (A trend that arguably began with the Opus X.) “They have a sweet, long finish,” Fuente said. “It’s very flavorful, very complex — it’s my father’s idea of what a good cigar should be.”

The Rosado Sun Grown series was launched in December 2009 in three chunky sizes (hence the Magnum appellation) named for their ring gauge size. Since their premiere other sizes have been planned, some of which have been released. For now the lineup appears to be:

  • R-52 – 5 x 52 (robusto)
  • R-54 – 6 1/4 x 54 (toro)
  • R-56 – 5 5/8 x 56 (gordo)
  • R-58 – 5 1/4 x 58 (torpedo)

Construction Notes

As expected, the highlight of the Sun Grown Rosado R52 is its gorgeous colorado maduro wrapper. I’m not sure how “rosado” differs from colorado, but this cover leaf is a dark natural shade with a touch of red. If that’s rosado, well then this is rosado. The leaf has some veining, but it’s smooth, consistent in coloration, and it shines.

The head is nearly flat and the stick appears to have a slight box press. The cap shears neatly and the draw is spot on. It burns evenly and slowly, building a solid ash that is very light gray to white in color.

Nearly perfect construction.

Tasting Notes

This robusto opens sweetly, with mildly spicy scents of cedar. The base flavor is woody and slightly nutty. The smoke is medium to full in texture, but fairly mild in strength. After an inch or so the cigar serves up an elusive taste of honey or graham cracker. I thought it was caramel at first, but it’s not quite that sweet.

The second half of the R52 is muskier. The sweetness is still present in the aroma, but the flavors get a little earthier and pick up some spice at the end. It’s a gentle transition — the flavors remain balanced even though they gradually darken. There is virtually no aftertaste at the beginning of the stick, but by the end the smoke leaves a nice earthy char and some saltiness.

Conclusion

The Fuente Rosado Sun Grown robusto is a nice find for fans of medium-bodied cigars. The flavors are interesting and well developed, though they are admittedly muted when compared to full bodied classics like Fuente’s Opus and Añejo blends. But this cigar serves a different purpose, I think.

The R-52 robusto runs around $6 USD per stick, which is pretty decent for the quality of the cigar. The superb construction qualities alone might be worth this price. As long as you’re not a dedicated ligero lover who demands power from everything in your humidor, this is a smooth smoke worth checking out.

Final Score: 90

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Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado en Cedros

Introduced at the IPCPR last year, Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado en Cedros also marks the introduction of a new aging process developed by the mad scientists at General Cigar’s HATSA facility in Cofradia, Honduras. The process has been dubbed “Inmersión”™ and duly trademarked.

I haven’t found a detailed description of what all this entails (because it’s a trade secret, I’m sure), but I’m guessing “Inmersión” is probably similar to barrel-aging. The end result of the process is an extra cedary kick given to the wrapper leaf. As the developers explain,

Enveloped in fragrant cedar, the cigar matures to a complex medium-bodied smoke with a uniquely spicy, rich taste.

The core of the cigar is a blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and piloto cubano from the Dominican Republic, which is then bound in Connecticut Broadleaf and topped off with the specially aged and treated Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.

Three sizes are in production:

  • Liso – 7 x 49
  • Marco – 6.25 x 54
  • Sueno – 5.25 x 54

Construction Notes

The Hoyo de Monterrey Reposado is a solid but generally unattractive cigar. The wrapper is smooth in texture, but very thin, showing the contours of the binder beneath. The color of the wrapper is an unusual yellowish-golden brown.  The cap is slapped on without much concern for looks, but it slices away nicely and reveals a very nice draw. The overall effect is rough and weathered, though this is offset somewhat by the packaging — the cedar sleeve is not only in keeping with the cedar theme, it improves the looks of the cigar.

The burn is good, though somewhat uneven, and the ash is solid. The wrapper cracks and tears very easily, so this might not be the one to smoke outside on a frigid day.

Overall construction — good to very good.

Tasting Notes

The Hoyo Reposado en Cedros is appropriately named — cedar, cedar everywhere. A pre-light whiff of this cigar is like walking into a well-tended humidor. The first inch is extremely smooth, with no harsh edges and a very short finish. The flavors include (Surprise!) cedar with a touch of honey over a earthy, slightly vegetal tasting base. The aroma is all cedar, all the time. Even the aftertaste is of cedar.

The middle section is a little richer tasting, bringing in a deeper woody flavor that balances out the high sweet cedar notes that still dominate the aroma. The finish lengthens a bit and there is the slightest hint of spice on the tongue. The smoke texture is medium in body, but the cigar is still mild in strength.

The Reposado continues on this track till it reaches its  medium-bodied, mildly spicy, sweet, and cedary destination.  At times I grew impatient with the cigar and puffed a little too frequently, resulting in a flavor that veered toward bitterness. Don’t do this. Let the cigar be it’s own mild-mannered lazy self and imagine that you’re in a sauna. One made of cedar. Relax. It’s not a crime to be bored.

Conclusion

The Sueños I smoked for the review were all consistent in flavor and performance, that is, consistently decent if a little dull. This is a very smooth smoke which announces cedar before flame ever touches foot, so if cedar isn’t your thing, you might look elsewhere. Aside from that, this is a well-made cigar.

If this cedar-aged profile appeals to you, then the price tag will be sure to please as well. The Sueños sell for only 5 to 6 USD per stick, and the larger sizes only slightly more. I might look for this one after breakfast sometime, if I get the hankering for a walk in the woods and there are no woods to walk in.

Final Score: 85

Thanks to General Cigar for providing samples of this cigar for review.

Rocky Patel Renaissance Robusto

It’s not Frankenstein. It’s not even the Frank. But it’s alive! Rocky Patel’s Renaissance cigar is born again, resurrected from the scuttled remains of the Edge Sumatra.

But it’s not that simple. It never is. Reanimation is not for amateurs. So a little more detail.

Rocky Patel’s Decade, Edge Sumatra and Renaissance cigars are all different blends but they bear a passing resemblance because they share the same, or nearly the same, wrapper leaf.  The wrapper used for all these cigars is, (or was, in the case of the Edge)  a very nice Sumatra leaf grown by the Oliva Tobacco Company in Ecuador. The only problem is that there is a finite amount of this splendid weed, which means that Rocky had to make some hard decisions  about how to allocate it.

The Decade, an Anniversary cigar with an excellent reputation, was assigned the best of the higher primings. This put the squeeze on the Edge Sumatra, which at the time was using the same leaf. Because there wasn’t enough wrapper to go around, the Edge Sumatra was discontinued. But it was still a nice (and popular) blend, so Rocky brought it back using a lower priming wrapper leaf from the same plant and called it Renaissance. It was understood that the Renaissance was the new Edge Sumatra, but it didn’t taste quite the same due to the lower priming wrapper. It just wasn’t “edgy” enough.

To satisfy the ravening crowd, Rocky brought back the original Edge wrapper with the same filler blend, but he kept the new brand name and released it as a limited edition. And that is how the Edge Sumatra became the Renaissance. Which is why it is a renaissance, quite literally.

Construction Notes

The most impressive aspect of this robusto is the oiliness of its dark colorado maduro wrapper. It feels a bit narrow for a robusto, but the roll is solid and the draw is spot on. The head is formed well, but the cap is not picture perfect. I solved that by shearing it off.  The stick burns evenly and builds a solid ash.

The Drop Test

After smoking this cigar for about ten minutes I managed to fumble it. While reaching for the ashtray I somehow lost finger traction and watched in horror as the cigar slipped away and smacked on the concrete of my garage floor. I was sure my poor robusto was going to be battered and bruised beyond all hope of recovery. I brushed off the ash and dirt and to my huge surprise I found it totally intact. Not a crack. Not even a chip.

The drop test is not an officially sanctioned element of the KOTF reviewing methodology, but in this case the Renaissance robusto passed with flying colors.

Overall excellent construction, with bonus points.

Tasting Notes

I almost want to call this cigar “Decade Lite.” The wrapper provides a piney aroma with fruity notes; the cherry that comes through reminds me a lot of the Decade. There is a touch of chocolate and a sweet spice — not pepper — that is easy on the palate. It’s not as rich as the Decade, but it seems similar. The aftertaste is pleasant and mild.

At the half-way point the smoke is still smooth and genteel with an excellent aroma and no bite.  The smoke is medium in body, with moderate nicotine.

In the last section I noticed a more herbal base flavor. It combines nicely with the aroma, which is still bright and piney. The combined effect is rich and complex without being overbearing.

Conclusion

As a descendent of the Edge (if not an actual Edge in disguise) I was expecting a heavier cigar with bolder flavors, but it turns out this cigar is a middleweight, an elegant and accomplished middleweight. I guess the other Edge blends aren’t as heavy as they profess to be either. Either way, I think the Renaissance could take ’em on points.

The robustos in this line retail in the 7 to 8 USD range, which is a fair price given the quality. It’s a little less than the Decade, and about the same as the Olde World Reserve, both of which I think are slightly superior cigars, but I like the fact that the Renaissance has been flying under the radar. The Renaissance is a fine cigar in any case. And it passed the Drop Test.

Final Score: 90