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Review: Arturo Fuente Añejo No.77 “Sand Shark”
For those of you that don’t know…
The Fuente “Shark” vitola of cigars is one of the most recognizable sizes of cigars on the planet…It is a Round to Square shape, with the cap being a more normal rounded cap, but as the cigar progresses to the foot, the shape gradually squares up until it ends at a perfect square at the end…
This vitola was first seen as a prototype given out at CFCF in 1999, and was called (oddly enough) a “Round To Square Shape” or “Bull Shark”, and was 5 5/8″ x 54…It was never officially released, and it had a rounded cap, compared to the pointed belicoso-style cap of later incarnations…
The next time this vitola was seen was in the Añejo line of cigars, as the “Añejo Shark No. C77″, which was released in 2001 (one year after the rest of the Añejos were first released, in 2000)…The vitola was such a hit (and so memorable) that cigar smokers started referring to it as just a “Shark”, and not using the RG to identify it, as is usually done with most other Añejo vitolas (ie “Añejo 46″ etc)…Here is some info on how the Añejo “Shark” came to be produced (and where the name came from)…(Courtesy of Vitolas.net):
The Añejo Shark was actually made and named because of Marvin Shanken (Cigar Aficionado owner) and Carlito’s brother in-law, Wayne Suarez. Carlito named it the “SS Shark” because they both loved this vitola and blend; one “S” stood for Shanken and the other “S” stood for Suarez.
The “No.77″ designation comes not from the ring gauge of this cigar, as it does for the other cigars in the Añejo line, but rather from a more amusing reason altogether.Carlito took his kids to Sea World in Orlando, FL, and there noticed that some of the sharks in the tank had two pectoral fins, which looked sort of like two 7′s.
As of this moment in time, there are now 4 different “Shark” vitolas in the Fuente lineup (not including the prototypes, which are extremely difficult to find, let alone buy)…(All info Courtesy Vitolas.net):
They are (from left to right):
- Añejo No.77: Originally released in 2001 (1 year after the rest of the Añejo line), this cigar sports a Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper (as do all the Añejos)…the No. 77 is also the only Añejo vitola not wrapped in cedar…
- “Sand Shark” (i.e. Cameroon wrapped Añejo Shark No.77): See Info Below
- Opus X “Shark”: This cigar is the exact same vitola as the Añejo Shark No.77, but with an Opus X Rosado wrapper and blend. While this incarnation of the “Shark” was only available in special box sets (like the Opus 22 Box) for many years, it has now become more widely available as a periodic box release from the Fuentes at various times during the year…
- Don Carlos “Shark” (or “Suarez Shark”): This specially made “round to square shape” Don Carlos Shark is thinner than the Opus X and Añejo Sharks. This vitola and blend of Don Carlos tobacco was created especially for Wayne Suarez, who is married to Cynthia Fuente. Only a handful of these are thought to be in public circulation. Wayne noticed a cigar mold that wasn’t being used, and had these specially made from that mold.
The version we are reviewing today is the Añejo “Sand Shark” (i.e. Cameroon wrapped Añejo Shark No.77)…This cigar is identical to the regular release Añejo Shark No.77, except that it has a Cameroon wrapper in lieu of the normal Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper found on the Añejo line…These cigars are made on occasion for Cigar Aficionado owner Marvin Shanken, because of his love for Cameroon wrapped cigars.
They were also made available in November of 2006 as part of the Carlito’s Way sampler from Holts Cigars…About 2000 of the Carlito’s Way samplers were sold, and as far as I know, that was the only Public release of the “Sand Shark”…Here is the promotional info, and what was included in each of the Carlito’s Way sampler (via www.Holts.com):
Carlito’s Way Sampler $50.00
This sampler is unbelievable! This could be the single most sensational sampler in the history of cigars! Not only is each cigar here fantastic, but also extremely rare. Let’s put it this way: You have a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa than you do of finding these 5 marvelous cigars anywhere other than Holt’s! The Arturo Fuente Añejo Special Release Cameroon Shark has never even been sold before! We anticipate a full-scale feeding frenzy. Here’s the story behind this sampler!
About a month ago, the Holt’s Tasting Committee was lounging around Holt’s headquarters smoking a boatload of cigars as usual. We had a couple minutes to spare, so we decided to design the ultimate 5-cigar sampler. We put in a call to our main man Carlos Fuente Jr. and bada bing bada boom – he made it happen! Carlito blended and manufactured each of these cigars and is a huge proponent of this 5-cigar selection. Now we’re thinking: If Holt’s is able to bring you something as outstanding as this sampler, why shop for cigars anyplace else? That’s a darn good question. Enjoy while supplies last!
1 Arturo Fuente Anejo Special Release Cameroon Shark (5.88 x 64)
1 Arturo Fuente Hemingway Work of Art Maduro (4.88 x 60)
1 Ashton Virgin Sun Grown Wizard (6 x 56)
1 Fuente Fuente Opus X Belicoso XXX (4.63 x 49)
1 Fuente Fuente Opus X Perfecxion X (6.25 x 48)
To show the difference in the color of the wrappers, here is a comparison photo of the Añejo “Sand Shark” (left) and the Maduro Añejo Shark (right):
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigars Reviewed: Arturo Fuente Añejo Reserva Xtra Viejo Limitada No. 77 “Sand Shark” (Special Cameroon Release)
- Country of Origen: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Cameroon
- Binder: Unknown
- Filler: Añejo blend
- Size: 5 5/8 inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Shark (Round to Square)
- Est. Price: $25.00 (on aftermarket)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The cigar itself has a very light brown wrapper, almost white-ish really (especially when compared to it’s Maduro brother), and is totally smooth and seamless to the touch…I LOVE the look of this vitola, always have…The wrapper smells like a combination of Manure, pepper, cedar and leather…The cigar is hard as a rock, with no give at all…Predraw is a combination of sweet cedar and other woodish…quite sweet with a bit of spice…
The First Third starts out much like the predraw with quite a bit of sweet oak, nuts and creamy chocolate…There is quite a bit of spice on the retrohale at first, but it calms down after about 20 puffs or so, and recedes to the background (but not all the way, it is still a major player)…A really great start, but quite sweet and creamy in profile (and I could even taste it on my lips a bit)…
The Second Third turns around almost totally…there is quite a bit more spice and pepper coming through…The core flavors are still the same (Leather, sweet oak, chocolate), but the sweetness has diminished in the wake of the spice…Basically the spice (from the background of the first third) and the sweetness (Dominant in the first third) switched places almost totally, a VERY interesting shift, and not something that I have tasted in many cigars…at the very end of the Second third, I also tasted just a tad bit of citrus, almost like lemon zest…The burn and construction are astounding at this point…
The Final Third basically combined everything into a great tasting soup of flavors…the spice calmed down again, and the sweetnees took back over…the profile became quite creamy in nature, with the oak, leather, chocolate, citrus (not much, but a little) and leather really making this a great ending…I smoked it to the nub, and it never got harsh or bitter…The finish was quite dry as well…
- To say the construction of this cigar was perfect is an understatement (check the second photo)…The burn line never wavered on the two I smoked for review, and the draw was amazing throughout the whole smoke…Just amazing…
- There is a HUGE difference between how the Sand Shark tastes now and how it tasted in 2006…When they were first released, they were VERY wet (over humidified), and quite a few had serious mold on them (and in them)…With about 3 years of age, they show what they are made of…I remember smoking one back in 2006, and the flavors now are Nothing like what I was getting back then…
- I did not get as much smoke coming from this cigar as I was expecting…
- Final Smoking Time was 1 Hour and 35 Minutes…
The Bottom Line: In my mind, the Arturo Fuente Añejo “Sand Shark” is a prime example of how nothing more then a different wrapper change can change the flavors of a cigar in major ways…The regular maduro Añejo Shark is a spicy wood bomb, and with nothing more then a different wrapper, it turns into a creamy, sweet goodness (but keeps the best flavors from the blend)…This blend is infinitely more complex then the Maduro version, and reading some earlier reviews on the web, I went in thinking it would be almost TOO sweet profile wise…however, I am happy to report that there is plenty of spice to keep the sweetness in check (and increase the complexity as well)…This is one of those rare Hard to Find cigars that is actually worth tracking down and paying for…
Final Score: 93