There are only a handful of places that would merit the term asigar destination, and in the United States, one of the most notable is Casa Fuente, in Las Vegas.
Opened in 2005 as the only such branded store in the world, Casa Fuente is the result of a collaborative project between Tabacalera A. Fuente, Ashton/Holt’s and FreyBoy Tobacco. It is known far and wide for being home to some incredibly rare Fuente cigars, things that might seem more of a legend had they not been seen in person. For cigar smokers it is a place to relax inside the air conditioning of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, while for Fuente fans it is opening up the treasure chest of cigars.
While the store carries a fairly wide selection of Fuente cigars, it also offers extensive selections from Ashton and Diamond Crown, both of who have cigars produced by Fuente. It also offers a house cigar simply known as Casa Fuente.
The Casa Fuente line is a modified FuenteFuente OpusX blend, with a Cameroon wrapper grown by the Meerapfel’s operation in Africa. The binder and filler are both Dominican, as is its production, being rolled at Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. The line is available in a handful of sizes, including a Churchill, Belicoso Fino, Corona Gorda, Robusto, Double Corona, Pyramid #2 and Double Robusto, as well as the fairly rare lancero, or Phantom as it is often called.
In April 2015, Casa Fuente celebrated its 10th anniversary with an in-store bash featuring several members of the Fuente family, as well as members of the Levin family from Ashton and a handful of celebrities.
At the event, the store released a new 10th Anniversary Salomon vitola for the Casa Fuente line.
- Cigar Reviewed: Casa Fuente 10th Anniversary Salomon
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Cameroon
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 56
- Vitola: Salomon
- MSRP: $45 (Boxes of 10, $450)
- Release Date: April 15, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
One of the things I find so intriguing about the salomon vitola is the intricacy and precision it takes to roll them correctly and this Casa Fuente 10th Anniversary certainly looks to be about as well-rolled as they come. I’m particularly intrigued by the head of the cigar, which seems to have two approaches to creating the cap depending on the same, the first being a fairly standard wrapping of the wrapper up and then closing it off without a second piece of tobacco as would be found on many standard parejos; the other is a unique and effective way of folding the tobacco over the top to form the cap, which I don’t want to equate to a combover but it does bring the term to mind. The wrapper itself is a brownish cinnamon shade, familiar to those familiar with the Casa Fuente line, and it fits in the color palette established by the band. I can’t say I get much aroma from the foot or the wrapper; if anything some subtle graham cracker and oak come to mind. The cold draw is near perfect with smooth air flow and a mild graham cracker note with a surprising bit of pepper behind it.
The Casa Fuente 10th Anniversary opens up just north of medium in strength and body, with warm mixed nuts, pepper and dry tree bark that is dry enough to have me thinking about ordering up one of the store’s signature mojitos or other cocktails, though the smoke has the ability to get quite smooth at times. In either profile, it’s almost as if the flavor profile is designed to be paired with a light, refreshing cocktail. It’s almost a given that some touching up of the burn line will need to be done; I rarely find it possible to evenly light the foot of a salomon vitola, let alone to have it move along in lockstep on all sides. The flavor gets a tick more intense in the first inch, almost as if it was literally asking me why I don’t have a cocktail in front of me. There’s also a very pleasing smoky vanilla aroma coming from the foot, something I can’t say I can recall experiencing and something that would probably get lost in a smoky lounge. Similarly, what touches of sweetness are to be found are quite subtle, though I’m sure would be enlivened by a properly paired, slightly sweet cocktail. The ash finally drops off at about two inches long, just in time for the second third to get underway, while other aspects of the cigar’s performance have all been well above average.
The pepper begins to get a bit brighter by adding in a mix of white pepper at the start of the second third, and retrohales are delivering the majority of the 10th Anniversary’s experience at this point. It’s not long before the smoke begins to warm a touch and settles a bit farther back on the tongue, with a very pleasant lingering finish of pepper, warm nuts and woods that again, still seem to call out for an accompanying beverage. The draw through the midway point remains fantastic with plenty of smoke production and a fairly even burn line. Retrohales start to add touches of pretzel, though in specific the more cooked, crusty portion of the properly baked variety. The ash begins to blow out a bit en route to the final third, a bit of an annoyance for what has otherwise been very solid.
Unlike it did going into the second third, the Casa Fuente 10th Anniversary doesn’t seem motivated to take another step forward in strength as the final third commences. Instead, the flavor moves off of the pretzel crust and gets oddly biting and almost sour, though those don’t feel like quite the right words to describe the change. It is an awkward transition to a flavor of pepper and warm cake donut, though the bite that each draw imparts on the front third of the tongue can be piercing at times.
- The cigars for this review were purchased in July 2016 during the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, well over a year after they were released.
- Yes, each cigar had several spots where stay goma had dried on the wrapper. It’s almost part of the experience of high-end Fuentes now so I don’t really sweat it.
- The 10th Anniversary Salomon is missing the orange ribbon at the foot found on other Casa Fuente releases.
- There are few if any cigars that hold the tight connection between place and smoke as a Casa Fuente does.
- That said, I find it can be hard to truly enjoy a cigar at Casa Fuente when it is at its busiest. One my fondest memories though is visiting right after it had opened for the day, ordering a coffee and selecting a few cigars to enjoy while sitting in relative quiet and reading the newspaper. While the music and social aspect are almost inherent to the Casa Fuente experience, there is also something very enjoyable about being there when it’s a little less festive.
- I’ve been a big fan of the salomon vitola for some time, dating back to the late 2000s and La Flor Dominicana’s Salomon.
- There isn’t as much of a taper to this cigar as I have seen in salomones from other companies; the head is in the low- to mid-50s of a ring gauge, and the thickest section feels around 56 or so, maybe a touch bigger.
- Casa Fuente offers its own versions of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey and Kavalan Sherry Cask Strength Whiskey.
- Brooks Whittington visited and photographed Casa Fuente in December 2009.
- A number of other Casa Fuente cigars have been reviewed on halfwheel, including the Double Robusto, Lancero, Pyramid #2 and Series 5 Special Selection 806.
- Early in 2013, Casa Fuente was forced to suspend smoking on its patio due to complaints from a neighboring retailer. The store then closed for a few weeks in 2014 to undergo renovations to the escalator that runs adjacent to the store, which affected the layout of the patio. The humidor was also moved and renovated along with display space to increase the store’s indoor seating capacity.
- A plan to put in an atrium-style covering on the patio has not happened however, something that was in the works when issues from the smoke began to arise.
- There’s also now a second branded cigar bar in Caesars. The Casa de Montecristo Las Vegas location is a 10 minute walk.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- The only place to get the Casa Fuente 10th Anniversary Salomon is at Casa Fuente inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The Casa Fuente blend has always held a special place in my memory, both because it is a very flavorful, complex and balanced blend, but also because of the place itself. While the Casa Fuente 10th Anniversary Salomon isn’t quite as vibrant and flavorful as some of the other sizes, and seems to lose a bit of the wrapper flavor in the overall profile, it’s still a fine cigar that keeps the core flavors of the blend in tact while softening the overall profile a bit and making for an extended smoking experience, whether smoking it at the store or wherever you’re able to light one up.