In late 2011, just as we were preparing to turn on the lights at the website you are reading now, Arturo Fuente dropped a surprise. There was a new OpusX.
Not a new Casa Fuente release. Not a new Fuente Aged Selection, i.e. Prometheus, release. Not a new release for a charity auction. A new release sold at stores, none of whom seemed to know what they were getting. It was called Fuente Fuente OpusX ForbiddenX 13, made in honor of the company’s upcoming 100th anniversary celebration. Retailers were told more or less nothing about the cigars, other than the six cigars’ names, prices and sizes—one of which was incorrectly listed—and to this day, there’s not really much more known about the cigars.
Those sizes were:
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Nacimiento 1912 (5 1/8 x 43) — $11.75
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Heart of the Bull 1957 (5 1/4 x 50) — $14
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Destiny 1980 (5 3/4 x 52) — $15.75
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Keeper of the Flame 2013 (6 1/4 x 49) — $15
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 God’s Whisper 1924 (7 x 48) — $16
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Torch Bearer 2012 (7 5/8 x 49) — $18
Since then, the ForbiddenX 13 band has been used on other special cigars—including some of the releases included as part of Fuente Aged Selection releases—and the six vitolas made a follow-up appearance in 2018 as a release for the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) retailers.
In December 2020, Arturo Fuente more or less did the surprise release strategy again, this time under the cover of Rare Pinks. For much of the latter part of 2020—particularly in Q4—the company had been promoting its upcoming Arturo Fuente Rare Pink Vintage 1960’s Series, a new four-size line of perfectos.
And while there was no press release for Rare Pink, it wasn’t exactly surprising to hear that those cigars had arrived at stores. What was odd was that some stores were also receiving new sizes of ForbiddenX 13.
Specifically, there were four new versions of OpusX ForbiddenX 13, two of which were the same sizes as cigars from the original ForbiddenX 13 series. Those four sizes are:
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Deseos d’Amor (5 1/4 x 50)
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 El Beso Prohibido (5 3/4 x 52)
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Pasion d’Amor (6 1/8 x 48)
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Amor Sensual (6 1/8 x 54)
While multiple people that work for Arturo Fuente didn’t answer questions—beyond acknowledging that the cigars existed—about the release, it’s quite obvious that this isn’t the same as the original. The most obvious change outside of the name is that the cigars are packaged in boxes that use the same design—albeit with different color schemes and graphics—as the OpusX 20 and OpusX 2020.
Furthermore, the cigars were wrapped in cedar sleeves, something that was not part of the original ForbiddenX 13 release.
If you were lucky enough to smoke the original ForbiddenX 13, it’s pretty apparent that these four new sizes have a different colored wrapper compared to the 2011 and 2018 cigars.
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Heart of the Bull 1957 (5 1/4 x 50)
- OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Deseos d’Amor (5 1/4 x 50)
- Cigar Reviewed: Fuente Fuente OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Deseos d'Amor
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Undisclosed
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Length: 5 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $21 (Box of 20, $420)
- Release Date: December 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While the original OpusX ForbiddenX 13 had wrappers that were noticeably darker and less red than the regular OpusX, this cigar’s wrapper is actually pretty close to regular OpusX. I’m pretty sure that most people wouldn’t be able to tell if this was rebanded as regular OpusX, though it too is missing some of the red hues. Some of that might be my eyes adjusting to the black band compared to the red band, but this is pretty close. These cigars weren’t stored in cellophane, though they are wrapped in a cedar sleeve. While the cedar takes up quite a bit of the wrapper’s surface area, it doesn’t seem to impart that much aroma into the cigar. I pick up a bit of cedar aroma along with something that reminds me of copier paper as well as sage. The foot is much more vibrant with wheat, floral flavors and pizza crust. The cold draw of Deseos d’Amor is similarly sweet with floral flavors, something that reminds me of freshly fried potato chips, bread and raisin. It’s medium-full, substantially more intense than the aromas I pick up from the cigar.
It looks like an OpusX and it starts like an OpusX, as I get a classic OpusX mixture of woody flavors, sweetness and cedar, along with some meatiness that is a bit foreign to the Opus experience. One thing that’s absent on the first puff is pepper, and while there’s more as the cigar goes on, it’s never that much and certainly far from many other regular production OpusX cigars. The flavor profile is crisp with cedar, sugar cookies, earthiness and a hint of sourness. It finishes with grain, cedar, oak, sweetness—but less than when the smoke is still in my mouth—and some pink salt in the back of my mouth. Retrohales are creamy with sweet cedar, a vibrant gingerbread profile and then some toastiness, which carries over to the finish. Speaking of the retrohale’s finish, there’s toastiness, bread, melon and a deep coffee flavor. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. One cigar needs some help with the burn, but the other two avoid a touch-up, though the burn is far from perfect.
While the sweetness has declined overall, there’s an interesting strawberry note that I pick up in the second third of the OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Deseos d’Amor. It’s nowhere near the intensity of the nuttiness—which is the main flavor at this point—but it accents everything it touches. In addition, the main profile has cedar, pasta and a touch of acidity. The finish is more savory than the main flavor with cedar, earthiness, roasted flavors and a vibrant peanut shells. Retrohales start with some short-lived floral flavors that get overtaken by roasted flavors, paprika and something that reminds me of ginger. What’s really bizarre is that while I’m pushing the smoke into my nose, there’s a weird sensation—almost like a carbonated water—that is occurring on my tongue. It only lasts for about 10 minutes or so, but it’s present on each cigar and doesn’t make that much sense to me. The retrohales finish with fruity flavors, including an unripe strawberry, along with bread, cedar and leather. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. While the draw and smoke production are excellent, the burn isn’t straight and I’m forced to make a correction on each cigar.
The nuttiness continues to build in the final third and as much as I enjoy that flavor in cigars, I think it’s actually drowning out a lot of secondary flavors. I now get some leather, fruitiness and remnants of cedar, but there’s not much. As the finish develops I find more acidity, white pepper and pizza crust, but then there’s a healthy dose of nuttiness. The retrohales have a longer-lasting floral flavor, meatiness, earthiness, oak and some generic spices. It finishes with meatiness, lemon and some of the spice mixture. Given the relative lack of pepper up until this point, the retrohales in the final third are far and away the most aggressive part of the profile. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. As has been the case up until this point, the only construction issue I have with the OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Deseos d’Amor is the uneven burn.
- Deseos d’Amor translates to wishes of love if the “d'” is short for “de.”
- If there’s one non-Cuban company that doesn’t need to create press releases or make official announcements to generate buzz, it’s Arturo Fuente. That being said, I find it a bit funny—both odd and hilarious—that the company has issued press releases for things such as the time when a container got stolen and one that it more or less wasn’t increasing prices for 2021. To my knowledge, we’ve never received a press release regarding any new products.
- That being said, consumers would likely benefit from Arturo Fuente issuing some sort of announcement regarding the MSRP of all of its cigars, especially the ones that are related to OpusX. I’m not sure it would reign in most retailers from selling these cigars at higher mark-ups, but it would at least let consumers know how much of a premium they are paying.
- A good parallel to this would be the bourbon world, particularly when it comes to releases like (Pappy) Van Winkle or the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. On its website, Old Rip Van Winkle says that Pappy Van Winkle 20 has an MSRP of $199.99. That fact isn’t stopping the mark-ups, but it’s at least nice to have the reference point.
- While I don’t know how much OpusX is being made today, it’s a lot for a cigar that most people think is “hard to get.” In 1998 the company said it was making 750,000 OpusX cigars per year. For some context, at that time OpusX wasn’t being sold on the West Coast and there were no other variations like Lost City, OpusX 20, etc.
- On a cigar like this, the two bands and cedar sleeve make it seem like it’s probably a shorter cigar than it is because of how little of the wrapper is visible until the cedar is removed.
- Our scoresheet just evaluates burn issues by grouping them into the number of times we have to make a correction per third: zero, one-two, or more than two. While the burn was uneven here, I’m not sure it was that problematic. Sometimes cigars need regular corrections, this just seemed like it needed an alignment to help with the constant, albeit gradual, unevenness.
- As someone that isn’t keen on paying 2-3x the MSRP of a cigar, I pick up a few OpusX per shipment from a couple of retailers that don’t mark up the cigars. As such, I don’t have an endless supply of regular OpusX, but I do smoke it more often than I do just about any other blend other than maybe the Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey. While I am certainly no expert on the specifics of the OpusX Robusto, I’m also no stranger. To me, the largest differences between the two cigars in terms of flavor profile are:
- The regular OpusX has both more sweetness and more pepper.
- The regular OpusX Robusto has a more powerful profile. It also has more nicotine strength, but the flavor is certainly more in your face than the Deseos d’Amor.
- The Deseos d’Amor has more nuttiness and gets to the nutty flavors a lot quicker.
- The Deseos d’Amor has floral flavors, something that I don’t find that often in an OpusX Robusto.
- For context, the similarly sized OpusX Robusto has an MSRP of $15.20 per cigar. I don’t think this is the same cigar, but I don’t know how much of a difference you are getting for the 28 percent price premium. I think this is particularly true if aren’t smoking OpusX Robustos with a regular routine.
- Arturo Fuente advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes.
The Deseos d’Amor is a very good cigar with an uneven burn and, as such, a score that probably doesn’t reflect how much I enjoy it. There are now so many different blends that have worn OpusX bands, I’m not sure how to make this complete without it being far too long, but in broad terms, my order of enjoyment from most enjoyable to least goes: original OpusX, original ForbiddenX 13—big gap—OpusX 2020 (Green), OpusX 20 (Blue), gap, Oscuro, Lost City. This falls somewhere within the “big gap” range, placing it third. As someone that enjoys both regular OpusX fresh and with age, this is sort of a hybrid. It’s certainly milder in strength and pepper than a fresh OpusX—though I’d argue that OpusX’s strength and pepper is somewhat exaggerated compared to many newer cigars—but it shows a wider range of flavors similar to OpusX after a few years of mellowing out in the humidor. For me, the signature OpusX recipe has been marrying a unique cedar and sweetness with power; this has traces of that DNA, but it’s fairly easy to tell that it’s not the exact recipe, particularly when compared to the regular OpusX Robusto’s profile.