When Don Arturo Fuente left Cuba for the United States in the late 1800s, he probably had no idea he was about to create a legacy of great cigars. In 1912, he began producing cigars under his own name in Tampa, Florida. Since then, his grandson, Carlos Fuente Jr. has taken over and commands a cigar brand from the Dominican Republic that produces more than 28 million cigars annually, among them the world-famous Flor Fina 8-5-8, the Chateau Fuente and the Fuente Fuente OpusX. A truly remarkable brand with some truly remarkable creations.
I had my first Arturo Fuente the other day, a Gran Reserva. It is the Cigar of the Month at The Havana Club and retails for RM27 (usually RM35) for a single – always on a look out for a good deal, i couldn’t resist. Was i going to be impressed or disappointed? Based on all i’ve heard of the brand, expectations were certainly very high.
The scent test was a pleasant experience, though i detect a bit of rawness in the overall aroma of the tobacco. I’m no expert, but i found the scent of Cubans far more “mature” – perhaps an indication of the techniques used during the fermentation process? Or perhaps an indication of the origins of the tobacco? Not necessarily unpleasant, just a bit “raw” – that’s the closest word i have to describe the sensation.
Lighting the cigar was no problem. Carefully applying the torch to the foot of the cigar, i took a few quick draws while slowly rotating the cigar, and that was enough to get it going. The initial first few draws yielded a thick, bitter-sweet woody taste that was quite pleasing to the palate eventhough it was noticeably mild. There is certainly nothing wrong with this cigar – but at the end of the day, i reckon it will come down to personal tastes. For those who prefer an uncomplicate, simple cigar with straightforward tobacco tastes, the Gran Reserva fits the bill quite well. Towards the end of the cigar, perhaps in the last inch and half or so, it became noticeably spicier, though by not much. If the Montecristo No. 2 was a roller-coaster ride of olfactory sensations, the Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva is a gentle boat ride ride in calm waters.
Verdict: In typical Arturo Fuente style, the Gran Reserva is an easy-going cigar, well suited for the beginner who needs to test the waters and mark their own personal thresholds. It burns evenly, produces copious amounts of pleasant smoke, and should last 30+ minutes – just nice for an early morning indulgence right after a light breakfast with the morning papers in hand.