In November 2017, Arturo Fuente released its first exclusive creation for Dubai during an event held at the Mercury Lounge at the Four Seasons Jumeirah. Appropriately named OpusX Dubai Exclusivo, the new creation consisted of a singular blend in two different vitolas—one was a 52 ring gauges while the larger one came in at 56 ring gauge—the cigars were presented together in one wooden coffin and were only sold at Dubai Duty Free.
Fast forward to December 2019: once again, there was a new OpusX blend released during a party that was held in Dubai, and once again it is being sold exclusively in the area, albeit in both local stores and duty-free outlets in the UAE. However, the new OpusX 2020 is a bit different. For starters, it’s an actual brand with multiple sizes in different boxes, unique packaging, etc. Its name references a specific event—namely the UAE’s Expo 2020, which is scheduled to take place in Dubai in October—and is a partnership between Fuente and Zainal Mohebi Holdings, the company’s distributor in the UAE, and the Meerapfel family, which handles the company’s distribution outside of the U.S.
“From the first moment my foot touched the sand, my eyes fixed the horizon and I experienced the unique scent only the desert can offer,” said Carlos “Carlito” Fuente Jr. in a statement provided to halfwheel. “I immediately realized how much affection I had developed for the U.A.E.”
As with the original Fuente Fuente OpusX blend, the OpusX 2020 is a Dominican puro incorporating tobacco from the Fuente family’s Chateau de la Fuente farm located in El Caribe, Dominican Republic. All three vitolas are packaged in boxes of 20, and while the new release is an ongoing production item, albeit very limited in production.
- Fuente Fuente OpusX 2020 Arena d’Amor (5 x 52) — 147.50 AED/$40.16 (Box of 20, 2,950 AED/$803.20)
- Fuente Fuente OpusX 2020 Sol d’Amor (6 1/8 x 55) — 152.50 AED/$41.52 (Box of 20, 3,050 AED/$830.40)
- Fuente Fuente OpusX 2020 Viento d’Amor (6 x 58) — 167.50/$45.60 AED (Box of 20, 3,350 AED/$912)
- Cigar Reviewed: Fuente Fuente OpusX 2020 Sol d’Amor
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Dominican Republic
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 6 1/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 55
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $41.52 (Box of 20, $830.40)
- Release Date: December 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Fuente knows how to put together packaging on a cigar, and the OpusX 2020 Sol d’Amor is no different, with a combination of main band, secondary band, cedar wrap and foot band that really stands out. Removing the cedar wrap reveals a surprisingly light cinnamon brown wrapper with a reddish tint that is smooth to the touch. In addition, the cigar has a slight box press and there are a number of veins present but almost no oil to speak of. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet manure, leather, nuts, cedar, dark chocolate and honey sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of strong vegetal that reminds me of asparagus, leather tack, anise, leather, creamy cedar, earth, freshly ground coffee, almonds and black pepper.
As the OpusX 2020 Sol d’Amor lights up easily, I am immediately inundated with enough spice on the retrohale that my eyes water the dies down a bit after about 10 puffs, allowing a distinct combination of creamy cedar and vegetal that seems to be pulled over from cold draw to emerge as the dominant flavors. Other notes include rich espresso beans, roasted peanuts, nutmeg, hay and a touch of floral bringing up the rear. There is a nice amount of maple syrup sweetness as well as some very obvious black pepper on the retrohale, along with some significant spice on my lips that seems to be sticking around for a while. In terms of construction, the draw is giving me an ideal amount of resistance after a straight cut. The burn is a bit wavy, but it far from needing correction. Smoke production is both massive and thick off of the foot, while the strength increases quickly from a starting point halfway between mild and medium to end the first third a bit below medium.
Thankfully, the spice that was so overwhelming in the first part of the OpusX 2020 has receded quite a bit by the time the second third begins, which in turn allows much more complex flavors to make themselves known, including a new dominant oatmeal and cinnamon flavor combination on the palate. Those notes are followed by lesser flavors of cedar, dank earth, brewed coffee grounds, leather, almonds, hay, barnyard and a tiny bit of lemongrass. In addition, the maple syrup sweetness on the retrohale has been replaced by a raspberry tea sweetness which combines very nicely with the remaining black pepper, both of which seem to be increasing in strength. The draw continues to impress easily and the smoke production remains extremely high, but the burn takes a turn for the worse, resulting in two touchups. Strength-wise, the OpusX easily blasts past the medium mark by the time the second third comes to an end and is still increasing.
The final third of the OpusX Sol d’Amor features some significant changes compared to the second third, starting with the dominant flavors, which have morphed again, this time to a charred steak flavor. More notes of oatmeal, hay, gritty earth, cinnamon, peanuts, creamy cedar and leather flit in and out, while a touch of floral continues to hang around on the finish as well. As expected, the raspberry tea sweetness has increased on the retrohale, but the increase in the amount of black pepper is a but of a surprise. Construction-wise, the burn has evened up nicely again—although it is still farm from razor sharp—and the draw remains trouble-free, while the smoke production continues to be extremely copious off of the foot. Finally, the overall strength has continued to increase until it passes the full mark by the time I put the nub down with a bit less than an inch remaining.
- This marks the 25th anniversary of OpusX, seemingly a great for a number of new OpusX releases.
- It should come as no surprise, but the packaging on this release is extremely well done, from the box to the bands to the interior components. Having said that, the box looks visually identical in shape to the one used for the OpusX 20 Years Celebration in 2016—in fact, the swirly lines on the inside lid are even in the same place—albeit with a much different color scheme.
- While the price may seem a bit high to the casual observer—this vitola of the OpusX 2020 is almost exactly twice as expensive as the OpusX 20 Years Celebration—it is on par with the price of the OpusX Rare Black from last year and actually less expensive than the OpusX Stefano Ricci from 2018. The United Arab Emirates also has a 100 percent tax on tobacco products, so expect to pay more if you buy these at a non-duty free store.
- Speaking of the color scheme, having lived in Texas for quite a while the color combination of red, green and white instantly reminded me of Cinco de Mayo—because of the Mexican flag—the first time I saw them, although the obvious reason the combination was used—along with black— was because those are the colors used in the United Arab Emirates flag.
- At one point in time, the color used for the foot bands on OpusX cigars indicated specific things: for example, a black foot band meant that the cigar was rolled with a maduro wrapper—ala the OpusX ForbiddenX Maduro Robusto and the OpusX ForbiddenX Maduro Phantom—that’s no longer the case and I don’t know what silver would mean.
- The release party back in December looks like it was a good time, you can see a short highlight video here.
- While not as bad as some OpusX releases in the past, the glue on the main band was bad enough to take a chunk of wrapper with it in each of the samples I smoked, leading to various amounts of the leaf coming unwound. Having said that, it was not bad enough in any of them to actually hurt the final construction in any significant way.
- Arturo Fuente advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Arturo Fuente International.
- Final smoking time averaged one hour and 54 minutes for all three samples.
A new OpusX blend is always something to look forward to, and I was excited to see where the OpusX 2020 would take me. While it does have a number of similarities with a regular OpusX blend—specifically the earth, cedar and floral notes flavors that were present in the profile—the OpusX 2020 has one thing that a fresh, normal OpusX blend does not, the first 10 puffs in the first third notwithstanding restraint. Instead of beating you over the head with a crush of flavors and overwhelming strength right off the bat, the newer release advances quite a bit more smoothly, adding flavors and strength as layer upon layer until the crescendo at the end of the final third. I am on record any number of times on this website saying that I much prefer most OpusX blends with at least three years of age on them—five years is better on the core line—and while the OpusX 2020 finishes too strong for my tastes at the moment, the vast majority of the cigar is extremely enjoyable now and I cannot wait to see what a year or so of age does to the blend.