I’ve been a fan of Arturo Fuente cigars for a long time, ever since i was hooked on the amazing flavours of Opus X, and, later on, the even rarer and more elusive Anejos. Nearly all the Opus X cigars i’ve smoked till now have only a few years of age on them post-retail (meaning, the number of years i’ve aged them since buying them, this doesn’t include the 3 years of aging the tobacco and cigars undergo prior to being sold). So during a recent dive trip to Kota Kinabalu, i decided to indulge a little bit and broke out a little something i’ve had stashed away for a special day: a Opus X Double Corona from 2001. It was gifted to me by a friend who knows how much i love the brand, and though memory fails me because it was so long ago, i’m thankful to him for the opportunity to smoke this cigar.

The question in my mind was: do Opus X age well? I’m sure they smoke great right out of the box, and they smoke great with a few years of age, but what about nearly 10 years of age? How will time temper such a great blend then? Will the flavours hold up to the aging process, or will it fall apart like some lesser cigars do? That’s what i wanted to find out.

Despite the long nap its had in the humidor, the cigar retains its gorgeous tan rosado wrapper in good health. Its wonderfully smooth, and nicely oily to the touch. It leaves a fine texture under the fingers that is most pleasing, and only present in the very best tobacco. The scent of this unlit Opus remains distinctively Opus X-ish, though slightly changed: instead of the persistent fruity aroma that younger cigars exude, this particular cigar presented me with dark plum and cherries; a “darker” more intense version of its younger self. The foreplay was pleasing, and it made me want to light it up even more than before.

After a quick cap, and a light, we were away. The draw was easy, though not overly so. The first thing that came to me besides the usual peppery pinch of a regular Opus was a distinct salty flavour that i found mighty unusual. The first Opus X, and perhaps one of the very few cigars, i’ve described as being salty in the actual sense of the word. It’s not necessarily unpleasant, just very unusual and worth experiencing should you ever get the chance. Besides the saltiness, the cigar showed a lot of complexities even at this early stage. A bit of sweet rum and dried raisin flavours could be detected; quite delightful in its own way.

The second half arrived 40 minutes later, and the saltiness detected earlier was still prevalent, but the overall complexion of the cigar swung heavily into the realm of dark bitter Godiva chocolates. The cigar really takes off now, transforming into a full bodied beast as it tries to overwhelm the palate with a sensation of different flavours: sea salt, bitter chocolate, rum and plums, dried, infused raisins. Its really something else, and certainly a delivery that very, very few cigars can pull off. The nicotine kick is substantial and begins to be felt now, as i sat back and allowed myself to be relaxed as the flavours kept on crashing home.

The final third doesn’t deviate too much from the formula of the second half, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just oustanding, and the only worry i have is watching how quickly the inches fly by and the cigar disappears like magic into thin air and ash. The flavours take on a bit warmer tint, releasing some bitter fruity notes that accentuate what this whole cigar has been about up to now. Its not like i needed reminding. Something this wonderful will have a finish that goes beyond the palate.

Verdict: 90/100. Outstanding cigar, a true masterclass of the Opus X line. Ages brilliantly and probably still has a few more years beyond to improve beyond the 10 years i gave mine.