The Arturo Fuente Anejo #49 is the cigar i’ve waited the longest time to review. I smoked my first in July 2004 (damn the Devil who let me try it!), but wasn’t in the frame of mind to take proper notes, so i couldn’t write a review to do it justice; all i could remember was that it was a fantastic cigar, a touch of heaven, so to speak.

I thought i would never review this cigar, i had no other sticks to smoke. Then suddenly, out of the blue, on the stroke of the new year, i receive a brand new, sealed, full box of Anejo #49 from an Angel. I was flabargasted — i’ve been searching for a single stick of the #49 for months without success, then out-of-the-blue, a whole box arrives?! Just goes to show, when it rains, it freakin’ pours! What did i do to deserve this? The gesture is not something that can be re-paid easily, and i’ll probably spend a long time trying. All i can say is, “Bro, i’m still young and so are you — we have a long life ahead of us; your day will come!”

Its always a delight to crack open a fresh box, especially a Fuente or Padron box; so much care and attention to detail, the box itself is a thing of immense beauty. This is one department where the Cubans fall far behind: presentation. Yes, Cubans have their moments, like the impressive limited edition humis they come up with once in a while, but their regular boxes simply can’t match the quality of many non-Cuban cigar boxes.

Lacquered cedar, by the looks of it, with a velvet or felt lining on the inside lid, the famed Fuente note on top of the cigars with the Humidipak, and the artful silk ribbon keeping it all in place. It doesn’t get better than this.

A bit of Anejo history can be found here, but to summarise: the Anejo was a mistake, a supposed-one-off production, but owing to its tremendous success, Fuente decided to make it a regular production item, though in seriously limited quantities. I’ve been told that the Anejo rollers are among the very best Casa Fuente has on the pay-roll, and that the leaf that goes into each Anejo is also very special: exceptional Fuente leaf carefully aged for up to 6 months in cognac caskets.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And so it is with the Anejo. The wrapper is outstanding. The specimen i have is barely a year old (according to the box date, but the leaf has been aged for a couple of years prior), but its already excuding the type of funky oils that make cellos yellow. I almost needed a tissue paper to wipe my fingers after handling this naked stick.

Rolling it tenderly in my fingers, i didn’t notice a hint of any hard spots, and the heft of it felt just right. There is a certain solidity to the Anejo #49 which i find quite appealing. While some other long cigars e.g. 50 cabs of Cubans Lusis tend to warp in shape a bit in their boxes, i can’t imagine such a thing ever happening to the #49.

The aroma i breathed in as i ran this unlit cigar under my nose was simply intoxicating. What a rush! Bursts of fruity, raisin-type scents invaded my nostrils, tickling me to distraction, and leading to an outrageous wave of sneezes.

Saying a quiet prayer of thanks to the Cigar Gods, i lit this cigar carefully, toasting it, taking my time, watching in awe as the first drifts of blue smoke curled their way up to the ceiling as the foot caught alight. I took a few tentative draws, was rewarded by a magnificently lucious draw, and sat back, almost in tears at how lovely the taste and and the aroma of smoke was. I knew i was into for at least 2 hours of pleasure.

The Anejo took me on a journey: the 1st third was like the opening sequence of an action movie — spicy and strong, bold and direct dark fruity flavours. Setting my palate on fire, it tickled my lips, stung my tongue and made me smack my lips in delicious delight. The aroma was a very effervescent, clear flowery smell that simply lit up the room. If i could bottle that smell, i would make millions.

The 2nd third, i was treated to the romance of the Anejo — things became thick as English pea soup, the smoke could have been scraped from my mouth it was that creamy. A very pervading Arabica bean espresso flavour, laced with pinches of cinnammon and ash, with a dash of freshly dried plum. I was getting heady from pleasure at this point, and loving it tremendously.

The last third was the grandstand finish — dark, rich flavours (the fruitiness was quite imperceptible at this point), providing a full body punch right into the taste buds. Ahhh… what an intense experience it was. I took right down to the nub, it never got harsh, or objected. If anything, it wanted to give me more, but its life was just too short.

Verdict: A serious cigar for the serious aficionado. The rarity of this stick will almost ensure that only those seeking it out will be able to find it. A work of tremendous cigar beauty, the Anejo #49 comes as close to perfection as any cigar has in my experience. I have deep-sixed the rest of the box into the deepest recesses of my cainet humi, to keep my hands off them for at least several more years. These cigars are great now, and in a few years, they might become legend. My Cigar Blog’s Highest Possible Recommendation.