Review: Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario (Natural)

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Over the past few months I’ve acquired a few of these in both wrappers, some I’ve picked up at a more reasonable price, others given or traded me, whatever the case… I’ve been fortunate. These were originally made to commemorate Fuente’s 90th Anniversary (hence why the band says 1912 and 2012), however due to packaging and other reasons, they weren’t released until 2008. Like a lot of the higher-end Fuente products, Prometheus was given the rights to distribute the Gran AniverXario, packaging a total of 96 cigars (48 of both wrappers) in 96 humidors. Most assume the value of the humidor to be $1,800, which makes the cigars themselves worth just under $60. I have seen them a few times being sold in retail stores, all well over $60, but I paid $30 or less for those that I bought, which seems to be the going rate on the secondary market. Like a lot of Fuentes, there is more than just a simple story, and like always, I’ll let someone else tell it. Promotheus’ website describes the story:

Carlito Fuente has created a new cigar, Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, in tribute to his grandfather, Arturo Fuente.

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(Left Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario (Sun Grown), Right in Natural)

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(Back of the band, Left Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario (Natural), Right in Sun Grown)

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There are a few other details that are quite interesting, Moki of Vitolas.net (one of the foremost experts on all things Arturo Fuente, has this to say:

Note that these two cigars are not the same vitola; the Natural cigar is 1/8″ longer than the Sun Grown cigar, and it has a slightly larger ring gauge. These cigars were not rolled at the same time, the Natural cigar was rolled a year later.

The Natural cigar has a red ribbon on the foot, while the Sun Grown cigar has cedar and a black ribbon on the foot; both cigars have a slight box press to them. The Natural cigar appears to use an aged Opus X Rosado wrapper (as with the Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario cigars), and is the same vitola as the Opus X Perfecxion X cigar, except it is 1/8″ longer.

The 48 Sun Grown Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars are in fact Don Arturo Destino al Siglo “13” cigars, the long rumored Fuente 90th anniversary cigars.

In addition, the Prometheus marketing materials state that the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars have been aged for 7 years… meaning they were rolled in 2001, the same year the Don Arturo Destino al Siglo “13” cigars were rolled.

The wrapper the Natural cigar is an aged Opus X Rosado wrapper similar to the CigarFamily 10th Anniversary cigar. Despite being a slightly different size than the Sun Grown cigar, the Natural cigar actually is the same AF13 blend, but with an aged Opus X Rosado wrapper. The Natural cigars were rolled a year later than the Sun Grown cigars.

The Natural cigar is actually somewhat of a mystery, as even the Prometheus marketing materials seem to refer to this as one cigar, which suggests that the inclusion of this Natural wrapper cigar may have been an ad hoc decision.

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And now the particulars.

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  • Cigars Reviewed: Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario (Natural)
  • Country of Origen: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
  • Wrapper: Dominican Chateau de la Fuente Sun Grown Rosado
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: AF 13 blend (mix of Opus, Don Carlos, Hemingway, and 858 tobaccos)
  • Size: 6 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Grand Corona
  • Date Released: 2008
  • MSRP: $59.38 (Humidors of 96, $7500; humidor value est. $1,800)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Normally getting one cigar to stand on a slightly windy day is difficult, getting two? The first thing you notice, the band, everytime. There are tons of little details hidden in the band: 2012 (Fuente’s 100th Anniversary), portraits of Carlos Sr. and Carlito, a red signature below Arturo’s portrait and my favorite trait, the Opus X logo on the back, holding the ends of the band together. The Rosado wrapper seems a bit more solid than a typical Opus X wrapper, with a little less sheen. Aroma is pretty strong with a rotting nut (not as bad as it sounds), mixture of mildew and a sweet brown sugar. The foot has similar characteristics, with a heavier mildew, earth and brown sugar. While veins are relatively light, I will say two of the Gran AniverXario Naturals had noticeable imperfections thanks to what looks like stems on the outside. In general, there’s close to no resistance, even with what is a beautiful above average packing. The difference between the two sizes of the Gran AniverXario becomes rather noticeable when you pick up both, although pictures don’t really show how much larger the Natural is versus the Sun Grown.

 

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The cold draw always was on a varying side of loose with mild cocoa and a bit of an apple like finish, nothing too exciting. It takes a bit longer than I would have thought to get it going, but it’s a nice aroma of a toasty cedar with cherry. The Gran AniverXario starts with a disappointing amount of smoke production, although a nice cherry cedar that transitions into cocoa, woodsy and earth finish with spice from the middle of the tongue; medium all the way around. Calling the core earth flavor complex would be a lie, but it has a bit of depth. Brown sugar and spices, are once again sweet, joining a creaminess that helps to provide secondary accents on the overall flavor profile which falls somewhere between medium-full and full. The spices build through the finish, which also adds some powdered cocoa, once again medium-full in flavor and fairly length. Draw is still a bit open, which results in well below average smoke production. The aroma simplifies to a mainly cocoa over toasty note.

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This is where things begin to fall off. There’s additions of toasty, cedar, earth and a noticeable pepper, although it all just turns into a mush of medium-full flavor with little harmony. Finish is earth and cedar up front, with harsh pepper on the middle of the tongue. Strength takes a jump from medium to medium-full. Fortunately smoke production tends to increase, but I relit quite a few times throughout the Gran AniverXarios I smoked in the middle portions. Like the first third, the Fuente’s medium grey ash holds to inch chunks and then falls off.

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And this is where the cigar completely fell off. A harshness dominates an earth and cedar mixture as the flavors just begin to disappear. Finish provides the first look of herbs, but at this point, flavor is gone. Construction is consistently better, with smoke production increasing on a draw that moves more medium. Eventually, things need to end.

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Final Notes:

  • In case you missed the link above, you can read my review of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Sun Grown, here.
  • The Gran AniverXario is set to be released again, this time in five different sizes from the original two sizes. Fuente claims that they taste different, but I still doubt I’m going to smoke one of these.
  • Steve mentioned in his review of the Destino Al Siglo 13 (which is just a rebranded by Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Sun Grown) that he really wished that he could have smoked them when they were rolled, as these were supposed to be released almost a decade ago.
  • Fuente’s reputation for the super rare and limited isn’t great, this is easily one of the worst, easily, and that’s before the price tag.
  • Final Smoking Time was an 1 hour and 45 Minutes

 

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The Bottom Line: My first thought after putting down the natural version of the Arturo Fuente Gran AniverXario was, they really should call this an “858 Vintage.” I honestly have no clue what an 858 with x amount of age on it would taste like, but I can’t imagine it would be much more boring than this. It’s such a shame, one of the most ornate bands, boring flavor. Constructed beautifully, seems to never burn right. It seems as if the cigar has lost something, but I never smoked these fresh, so I can’t make that assertion entirely. However, the Gran AniverXario seems well past its prime. The mutiny of flavors just blends together and eventually collapse as the final third approaches, never bringing the complexity, depth, richness or smoothness that some of Fuente’s products can bring. It’s really a shame. This isn’t a matter of flavor profile just missing, this is a matter of a cigar that really just isn’t very good. And that’s before we get to the price. I honestly would love to tell you that this cigar is the crème de la crème of Fuente, that this is a cigar you save for the specialest of specialest occasions, and a cigar that creates experiences that are unforgettable and unrivaled. That might be true about the band, but the tobacco underneath is from from it. 

 

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Final Score: 64

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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