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Started by the Fuente and Newman families in 1996, the Cigar Family website was originally envisioned as a place for cigar lovers to congregate on the fairly new (at the time) internet. It eventually morphed into not only a huge forum filled with members discussing cigars, but it also became the launching board for a semi-annual event named the Cigar Family Celebration, which has been held in the Dominican Republic, Florida and New Orleans to benefit the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.

 The CigarFamily.com website explains the idea behind the name:

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To celebrate their rich history and love for cigars, the Fuente and Newman families founded Cigar Family in 1996.

Cigar Family was conceived as a way to share our family stories and interact with the cigar lovers who enjoy our Fuente and Newman cigars, something that was not possible before, the Internet.

In two words, the name “Cigar Family” perfectly captures the essence of our movement – a group of cigar experts who are passionate and knowledgeable, and who enjoy the camaraderie that fine cigars provide. Cigars have an amazing way of uniting adults of all ages and backgrounds through the shared bond of enjoying a handcrafted roll of tobacco.Friendship, camaraderie, and giving back is what Cigar Family is all about.

Although Cigar Family began as just a website, it quickly involved into so much more. After interacting with each other for just over a year, our Cigar Family members wanted to meet each other and the Fuentes and Newmans in person. Since 1998, the Fuentes and Newmans have hosted nine Cigar Family Celebration weekends in Florida, New Orleans, and the Dominican Republic, which have attracted cigar lovers from around the world.

On December 31, 2008, Drew Newman announced on the forum that the Fuentes would be sending each of the original members of the forum who were still actively posting a box of cigars that would include a custom blend. Drew Newman posted an announcement on the CigarFamily.com forum on December 31, 2008:

When CigarFamily.com was launched on December 31, 1996, the Cigar Lounge Online Forum had no login or registration system, like almost every other online bulletin board system. Instead, visitors typed their online name in every post they made. In March 1998, we added a Members Directory and invited our visitors to join the Cigar Family by registering. A system enabling members to login to the Cigar Lounge was added for our second anniversary in January 1999. Amazingly, 163 Cigar Family members who registered in 1998 are still active and posting a decade later in 2008. The Fuente and Newman families wish to recognize, congratulate, and thank the following 163 people as Founding Members of CigarFamily.com:
A decade after they joined the Cigar Family, we are thrilled and honored that these members are still an active part of our online community. In appreciation for their loyalty and support, we are creating a small, special package of cigars to honor these Founding Members of CigarFamily.com. In Spring 2009, we expect to e-mail these 163 members with more details. Please join me in congratulating these Founding Members of CigarFamily.com!
Thanks, Drew

However, while the announcement about the cigars was made at the end of 2008, an email telling people the cigars were shipping was not sent out until December 26, 2009 and the cigars themselves did not actually ship to recipients until the end of February 2010.

Cigar Family 163 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Cigar Family 163
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: n/a
  • Date Released: February 2010
  • Number of Cigars Released: 163 Boxes of 10 Cigars (1,630 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

 

It’s all a bit bland appearance-wise. There’s a smooth, yet unremarkable brown wrapper underneath a rather monotonous band. When squeezed, there’s an appropriate amount of give. Aroma from the oilless wrapper is virtually non-existent and I have a hard time identifying anything specific at all other than a very faint generic wood scent mingled with a slight sweetness, even from the foot. 

The first third of the Cigar Family 163 starts out immediately with generic flavors of wood and earth, along with the slightest amount of leather. There is a bitterness on the palate that is both pervasive and persistent, muddying the profile for the first 15 puffs or so before starting to thankfully fade into the background. While the profile is creamy overall, the only other flavor I pick up in the first third is a dry tobacco note that does little to make me forget the bitterness. The burn and draw are both fine — albeit not stellar — and smoke production is above average overall. Strength-wise, the Fuente product struggles to make it out of the mild range, and ultimately fails by the end of the first third.

Cigar Family 163 2

Unfortunately, there is not much change in the profile of the Cigar Family 163 in the second third, although the bitterness from the first third is long gone by the halfway point. The creamy tobacco note is still the strongest and pretty much only flavor I am tasting, even on the retrohale. There is no spice, no pepper and still no obvious strength present at any point so far, and while the burn and draw remain decent enough, that is not enough to stop me from growing bored by the end of the second third. 

Cigar Family 163 3

The final third of the Cigar Family 163 is a carbon copy of the second third, with a creamy tobacco flavor dominating everything else in the profile, and no spice, pepper or nuance at all. The overall strength does finally show a bit of life, but only enough to barely get out of the mild range into a very mildish medium range. Construction-wise, the burn and draw continue to be problem-free and the smoke production actually picks up a bit overall before I put the cigar down with a little less than an inch left.

Cigar Family 163 4 

Final Notes:

  • The Cigar Family 163 is not the first time a blend has been custom made for members of the forum. That honor goes to the Cigar Family 10th Anniversary, which was released in 2006. In addition, there were prereleases of cigars that were later sold to the general public that were made available to members of the forum first, including the Fuente Fuente OpusX Love Story (which eventually became the Love Affair) and the original AF13.
  • Other online communities have since made cigars for members, most noticeably BOTL.org and Saints & Sinners, and more recently Cigar Dojo, r/cigars and Cigar Federation. The major difference between Cigar Family and the others is that the cigars at Cigar Family have been sent at absolutely zero cost to members. 
  • The boxes that the Cigar Family 163 come in were custom-made leather stitched with each member’s forum name engraved on a gold plate on the lid. You can see photos of the boxes here.
  • Although the official number that was given in the various threads for this release was 163 boxes of ten, it eventually became known that there were some original members who posted under multiple screen names, and those people were also given boxes of cigars. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how many more there for sure, as no one from the Fuente family has updated the number.
  • As far as I know, this release was never given an official name: there is no name on the band (other than Cigar Family), no name on the box, and no official name mentioned in any of the posts.
  • The band used for this release has the Cigar Family logo from the website on it.
  • While the chronic overuse of glue on Fuente bands and cigars has been mentioned many times on this site, I saw no evidence of it in either one of the samples I smoked for this review, and the bands came off cleanly.
  • While the blend of the Cigar Family 163 has never been made public, there are quite a few people on the CigarFamily.com forum that believe that the wrapper is Cameroon.
  • The burn was just ok for both of the samples I smoked, but the draw had just the right amount of resistance for me.
  • The cigar smoked for this review were purchased by the reviewer.
  • The smoking time for both samples averaged one hour and 35 minutes.
70 Overall Score

When my notes on a cigar include the words “generic," "bitter" and "bland" multiple times each, it is just not a very good sign. While it would be easy to dismiss the Cigar Family 163 as just not a very good cigar out of hand, there is nothing inherently wrong with the profile that is present.  The actual problem with this release is the extreme mildness combined with a distracting lack of flavor or nuance. Other than the overwhelming bitterness in the first third, the main — and more often than not, the only — flavor I noticed was a bland and slightly creamy tobacco note. A really wonderful idea to honor the original members of the forum with their own cigar and custom boxes, but the blend itself falls far short of the vast majority of Fuente releases.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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