Virtually every hobby—the restoration of exotic automobiles, the enjoyment of rare wines and spirits, or the collecting of fine Swiss watches—has at least one Holy Grail item which produces in its possessor a bit of unbridled braggadocio; “I’ll say, that’s a swell looking Rolex Submariner you have on your wrist. I’ve got one, too. Except that it used to be owned by Steve McQueen. I stole it at an auction for only $235,000.00.” Naturally, the same applies to cigars. So the next time you want to stop the conversation at your local tobacconist and listen to the “oohs” and “ahhs” emanating from the lips of the patrons between their puffing, just follow these instructions—overtly place a precious-metal lighter on a table, remove a crocodile cigar case from your jacket, and then slowly extract a Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill.
The complete history behind the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario line is a tad complex and convoluted and would fill the pages of a novella. Here, therefore, are the highlights. It was initially released in 2008 in a collaboration between the cigar accessory manufacturer Prometheus and Arturo Fuente. According to the original press release:
Carlito Fuente has created a new cigar, Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, in tribute to his grandfather, Arturo Fuente. These cigars are made with the legendary wrapper leaves from Chateau de la Fuente, the birthplace of a dream. Carlito Fuente made Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars in 2001 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, which was founded by his grandfather in 1912. He planned to release Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars every year, starting in 2002, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary. However, these cigars were never released. Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars have been aging in the Fuente aging room since 2001. These 7-year-old cigars will finally be presented in the Limited Edition Fuente Story Humidors produced by Prometheus. 2008 is the 96th Anniversary of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, and each Fuente Story Humidor will come with 96 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars.
Prometheus produced a total of ninety-six humidors containing forty-eight Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Gran Corona Natural vitolas and forty-eight Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Gran Corona Sun Grown vitolas. The MSRP on the 2008 Limited Edition Fuente Story Humidor was $7,500.00.
In 2013, Arturo Fuente introduced the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Destino al Siglo (Destiny of the Century) as a part of their 100th anniversary celebration. This line was initially produced in four sizes—“Siglo de Familia” Grand Corona (6½” x 46), “Siglo de Passion” Churchill (6¾” x 49), “Siglo de Amistad” Robusto (5½” x 50), and “Siglo de Amor” Perfecto (5¼” x 50). The vitolas were shipped in wooden boxes containing thirteen cigars with the MSRP ranging from $23.33 to $26.58 per stick. Referring to his new super premium line, Carlito Fuente stated, “The cigar itself it is all entubado and the runs will be very small like the Opus X. It is going to help the retailers and help us. These are products for retailers and there are only so many Opus X we can make but the tobaccos on these will be different so they are going to have another product that they can depend upon like the Arturo Fuente Añejo Fuente Opus X. There are going to be as hot and as sought after as the Opus X. Ongoing but it won’t be available every day.”
In the following years, Prometheus has included various vitolas of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Destino al Siglo in their limited-edition annual releases. For 2016, the cigars are banded as the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario 20th in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the OpusX brand. These cigars are available in the 2016 OpusX Story Humidor ($10,000.00 MSRP, one hundred assorted cigars), the 2016 Opus6 Travel Humidor ($260.00 MSRP, six assorted cigars), and the 2016 Opus22 release ($975.00 MSRP, twenty-two assorted cigars).
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Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill 2016 Breakdown
- Wrapper: N/A
- Binder: N/A
- Filler: N/A
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Extremely Limited (500 cigars)
- Vitola: 6¾” × 49 Churchill
- Price: $44.32 MSRP (See below)
The Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill is one of the rare and vintage vitolas included in Prometheus’ Opus22 release for 2016. A total of twenty-two cigars in seventeen shapes are packed in a large wooden box, which has an MSRP of $975.00—or $44.32 per stick, assuming the retailer uses uniform pricing division. Production was limited to 500 units for global distribution. The vitolas for the 2016 year are:
- FFOX Oro Oscuro Reserva D’ Chateau
- FFOX Oro Oscuro Robusto
- Fuente Fuente Forbidden X 13 Belicoso
- Fuente Fuente Forbidden X Double Robusto
- FFOX King Power
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Toro
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill
- Angel’s Share Churchill
- Angel’s Share Toro
- FFOX BBMF Natural
- FFOX Tiger Shark
- FFOX Shark
- FFOX Tauros the Bull
- FFOX Love Affair
- FFOX LFMF
- FFOX 888 Especiale Natural
- FFOX Perfecxion No.2
Each cigar is packed in an individual, mahogany-stained, wooden coffin with the name of the vitola embossed in gold on the sliding lid. Only one Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill is included in the assortment.
The tobaccos used in the composition of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill have not been publicly disclosed. Phone calls and emails to both Arturo Fuente and Prometheus resulted in no additional information.
The Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill Release 2016 is a splendiferous cigar, its nearly seven inches in length and complementary ring gauge conveying a sense of Victorian regality. It is a cigar that Winston would have chosen to hold in his left hand while flashing his signature “V” sign in front of a group of press and paparazzi outside of the British prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street in war-weary London. Its wrapper is as smooth as a sheet of early-morning ice upon the River Thames; with subtle veining, very tight seams, almost imperceptible tooth, and a perfectly applied triple cap. The color of the Gran AniverXario is a bit darker than a Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share and a tad lighter than a Fuente Fuente ForbiddenX 13—on the brown shade spectrum, the wrapper’s hue is an equal mixture of red brown and burnt umber.
The Don Arturo is adorned with both a primary band and a smaller, secondary band. Printed in four colors and heavily embossed, the main band is intricate and oversized—a full one and one-half inches in height—and features a portrait of Arturo Fuente in the center, flanked by portraits of his son, Carlos Fuente, and his grandson, Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, Jr. The OpusX logo rests on the outer edge of the right side of the band, while the ForbiddenX 13 logo rests on the outer edge of the left (leaving one to speculate that the blend is a mixture of the filler tobaccos used in the OpusX and the ForbiddenX). Underneath the primary band, the sub-band is printed in black, gold, and red and identifies the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill as a 20th anniversary release. Very firmly packed from the foot to the cap, the wrapper aroma is a delicate combination of finely-aged tobaccos with just a touch of caramelized sweetness, while the open foot smells of barnyard, cedar, cocoa, coffee, and damp earth.
After the cap of the robusto extra (or “Churchill”, as Fuente dubs it) is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the cold draw is virtually perfect with just a slight, and desirable, amount of resistance. As a bit of peppery spice formulates on the upper and lower lips, smooth flavors of cedar, coffee, gingerbread, and natural tobacco immediately touch the palate.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a double soft flame lighter, the initial draw is bursting with the creamy complexity of perfectly-fermented and finely-aged Dominican tobaccos, while the first retrohale is so silky smooth that it defies description. By the fourth puff, the Don Arturo begins to produce a plethora of rich and delicately nuanced flavors—cedar, dried fruits, drip-brewed coffee, milk chocolate, mixed nuts, and a touch of vanilla. A slight tingle at the tip of the tongue indicates that Dominican Piloto tobacco may have been used in the composition of the filler blend. The overall profile is luxurious and rich, delivering mouthwatering flavors that proceed in a linear fashion from the front of the tongue to the rear of the palate. On the retrohale, velvety notes of assorted hardwoods, white pepper, and spices appear, prompting the desire to retrohale with every second puff (See “How To Retrohale a Cigar”). The draw is unusually open for a vitola in the Churchill size, producing an above average amount of smoke output.
As the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill enters into the second third, the strength of the cigar gradually increases, while the body begins to transition from medium toward medium-full. The aromas and flavors present in the first third of the cigar begin to diminish in intensity, while the initial brewed coffee note shifts to the rustic taste of a Lavazza espresso. Flavors and aromas of earth, hardwoods, leather, and red pepper begin to dominate the profile, as a delicate floral note begins to flirt in and out of the mix.
Room aroma is absolutely marvelous—heady and rich; filling every corner of the smoking room. The burn line is razor sharp, holding almost two inches of firm and tightly-compressed nickel ash, highlighted with streaks of battleship gray. Surprisingly, both the main band and the sub-band are easily removed. On the retrohale, the white pepper is replaced by a mixture of black and red pepper, with touches of salted cashews.
As it burns through its final third, the Don Arturo continues to provide an outstanding smoking experience—richly flavored and highly complex. The draw remains very open, requiring only light puffs to produce a prodigious amount of room-lingering smoke. A meaty and mineral note begins to develop as the cigar enters the nubbing phase, inducing a desirable amount of saliva on the palate. The cigar remains smokable all the way down to the nub.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “In a New York minute.” The Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill 2016 is exquisite in every way—appearance, aroma, construction, complexity, and flavor. It is a special-occasion cigar that trumps all other special-occasion cigars. Every serious cigar enthusiast should have the opportunity to smoke one.
- Smoking Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Champagne, San Pellegrino, Stoli on the rocks
- Purchase Recommendation: as many as you can find and afford
- Outstanding Construction
- Overall Complexity
- Distinct Transitions
- Very High Price Point
- Extremely Limited Production