“I only wanted to see you smoking a Purple Rain…”

That’s not what Prince sang, nor is this rare release from Prometheus even said to be named for the song, but say the words purple rain and I’d challenge to you to think of anything other than the famed song or the movie it came from. At least prior to this cigar hitting the market, of course.

As many know, Prometheus has had a longstanding relationship with Arturo Fuente Cigar Co., producing branded cutters, lighters, travel cases and humidors for them, as well as seeing the Fuente Aged Selection collection, God of Fire lines and other cigars that bear either the famous red X or other Fuente branding.

In December 2018, Prometheus began shipping the Fuente Fuente OpusX Purple Rain, a 6 7/8 x 44 lonsdale that comes with a hybrid torpedo/nipple head that has been used several times recently, including the OpusX PerfecXion 8-8-8, and the OpusX Serie Heaven and Earth Rare Black. The cigar made a return to stores in May 2019 alongside the Rare Black, as part of Prometheus’ Heaven and Earth Series, which debuted in 2017 and has added new cigars each year since. The series is part of the Fuente Aged Selection, which are made by Arturo Fuente but sold through Prometheus, with a portion of the sales going to the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.

While the size is similar to that of the Añejo 8-8-8, which came out in 2014, it is a quarter of inch longer, as the Añejo version measure 6 5/8 inches long. Both share the same uniquely designed head, however.

The cigars come in 10-count boxes and this year they are joined by two other offerings, the BBMF Maduro and Tauros the Bull, all under the header “Heaven and Earth.” They are also available as part of the 2019 Limited Edition Fuente Fuente OpusX Forbidden X “Purple Rain” Humidor, of which just 90 units were produced, split between five different wood selections. Each humidor contains 20 of the Purple Rain, along with 20 Rare Black and 10 each of the OpusX BBMF, BBMF Maduro, Tauros the Bull and Tauros the Bull Maduro.

Of note about both this cigar and the Rare Black is that the blend has never been disclosed.

To round out the offerings, the company has not one, but two lines of OpusX Purple Rain accessories, the Cutter H ($79.95), the Magma T lighter ($110), the Ultimo X cutter ($99.95) and Magma X lighter ($99.95), each available in a black lacquer finish or a black matte finish.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fuente Fuente OpusX Heaven and Earth Purple Rain
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Length: 6 7/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Lonsdale
  • MSRP: $45 (Box of 10, $450)
  • Release Date: December 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

There are more than that, but the 2,000 refers to the 2019 release.

The Purple Rain wears a very dark brown wrapper, one of the darkest I think I’ve ever seen under the iconic red X. The very appropriate purple ribbon band is held together with a small piece clear glossy tape, though not so tightly that the band doesn’t easily slide off. The first cigar shows a bit of damage to the wrapper once I take the ribbon off, though it doesn’t appear to have been caused by the removal of the ribbon, and it’s not something I experience with the other two cigars. The roll of the cigar isn’t perfectly round yet doesn’t feel box-pressed, and from the foot it looks a bit oval-shaped. There’s some variance in the firmness of the cigar, though most of the time it ranges between the kind of pillowy firmness of a box-pressed cigar and something a bit harder. Aroma off the foot of the cigar is quite good if not immediately familiar or leaping off the tobacco; it’s slightly earthy with a bit of freshly ground coffee and some trailing fruit sweetness, though only in the context of the other flavors. While the head of the cigar isn’t fully capped, the opening is far too small to smoke the cigar without clipping it a bit. Doing that shows that air moves fairly easily through the cigar, funneling down to a tightly concentrated opening. It’s milder than the aroma, with flavors room temperature coffee and cake donut, reminiscent of showing up a bit late to the office break room.

The OpusX Heaven and Earth Purple Rain starts off rather mild, with no pepper blast or any other big introductory notes. There’s a bit of chalk and some mineral notes, though I can’t tell if it’s the beginning of some earth notes or potentially some flavors that might be less than ideal. By the one-inch mark, the draw feels a touch firm and the vitola seems to make it challenging to get quite as much smoke as I would like, which at this point is picking up a bit of white pepper and mineral notes both on the palate and through the nose. Fortunately, once I knock the first clump of ash off, the draw opens up a bit and I’m able to get more fulfilling draws from the cigar, though the flavor hasn’t shifted much and there’s a dry, waxy aspect to the flavor. While the cigar has burned well, I’m really struggling to get into the flavor. Somehow the retrohales manage to stay enjoyable, and by the third sample I’m probably retorhaling on a near equal if not two-to-one ration. The draw can get a bit tight at times but is usually easily resolved either by knocking off the ash, clipping a bit of the head off or simply rotating the cigar a bit. The burn line and smoke production are both good as well.

The second third of the Purple Rain carries of with the chalk and there is now a flavor that has me thinking to check the head of the cigar for any tar or other build up, and I find just enough on the first cigar to give the head a very slight clip. Despite puffing at what I feel like is a fairly standard rate, the first sample doesn’t want to burn very quickly, though the other two samples are better. In the first sample there is still a bit of the tar note as the cigar approaches the final third, and I can see some brown ooze at the head of the cigar, enough that I’m able to wipe it on my finger, leaving a brown mark. I decide to clip a bit more of the cap, which produces even more of it and which you can see below. The second and third samples don’t have this problem, and are doing a better job trying to get the flavor somewhere enjoyable by way of a bit of diluted coffee, though the chalk and mineral notes are still lingering on the finish. There’s a bit of saltine cracker that appears at times, and while it’s distinctive it doesn’t really do much to shift the flavor in a direction I would like it to go, which at this point is anywhere but the chalky, mineral and waxy flavor I’m getting. The draw, burn and smoke production are all good, with the first of those three needing the most tending. 

Other than a bit of chalk and the tar-influenced flavor, I find myself entering the final third of the first sample having not written much about the flavor. As I write this observation down, I take a fairly substantial retrohale  The final third of the first sample struggles mightily in combustion, so much so that it has me wondering if I shouldn’t pull the Boveda out of the bag the other two samples are in, if not give them some all-out dry boxing. When it does burn, there is plenty of smoke production considering the size, yet the flavor doesn’t seem to change much, still showing chalk and minerals as the most prominent flavors, with a bit of white pepper in the mix as well and just the slightest bit of white bread toast. The other two samples, which got a bit of a drying out, performed much better in terms of combustion, but not much better in terms of flavor. A dry, black coffee note emerges as I relight the first sample once again, and there seems to be a bit more black pepper emerging, but for the most part I still find myself struggling to write down anything substantive in terms fo the flavor that the Purple Rain offers.

Final Notes

  • Given that there have been a few batches of the Purple Rain to come out, I felt it worthy to note that these were part of the batch that arrived in the spring of 2019.
  • Here’s what I found at the head of the cigar of the first sample:
  • My approach with any cigar is to take as little of the cap or head off as to start, and open it up as need be. On the first cigar, I think I took four cuts, both to open it up and to get rid of the buildup. On the second cigar, my first cut left the draw clearly too tight, while a second cut just a few millimeters down opened it up dramatically, particularly when there was a big buildup of ash.
  • For as much as I like slender cigars, the tapered head didn’t sit really well with me. By the third sample, I was clipping off more than I would have anticipated, and more than I would have likely told someone else to clip.
  • When the original release came out Keith Park of Prometheus told halfwheel, “Purple Rain, has nothing to do with the song of Prince, which was released in 1984.”
  • Much like Brooks Whittington noted in his review of the Fuente Fuente OpusX Heaven and Earth Rare Black, the packaging for this cigar is gorgeous, as is pretty much everything that comes from Prometheus.
  • Speaking of packaging, given that this cigar is available in a number of different packaging formats and has been out in waves now, getting an exact number of cigars produced is a bit of a challenge. For purposes of this review, we treated the 200 boxes, which Prometheus calls travel humidors, as its own release, hence the total number of 2,000 cigars, though the total number of Purple Rain cigars produced would be a good bit greater.
  • There is very little—if any—nicotine effect from the OpusX Purple Rain. Had there been, I can’t imagine it would have been of any benefit whatsoever.
  • Brooks Whittington visited the Prometheus booth at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
  • Charlie Minato and I have both visited the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation and Chateau de la Fuente, and I’d encourage you to read about these special places: my coverage from 2016 and Charlie’s from 2017 and 2018.
  • Arturo Fuente advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours on average.
80 Overall Score

If you read the text before getting to the score and this summation, you should have pretty easily surmised that I did not enjoy this cigar. The flavor is tough if not impossible to enjoy, and had I not had to smoke these, I would have smoked the first one and then put the other two back in the humidor for an indeterminate but extended period of rest in hopes of getting things to turn into something more befitting of both the OpusX band and the $45 price tag.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.