1992. For lovers of the grape, it was an unremarkable year—the vine destroying louse, Phylloxera ran rampart throughout California, while rains of biblical proportions devastated the vineyards in southern France and northern Italy. However, for lovers of the leaf, 1992 would prove to be very remarkable. It was the year that the Fuente family initially harvested high-quality, shade-grown Dominican wrapper leaf.
Many others had attempted to grow wrapper leaf in the Dominican Republic, with one major company losing over twelve million dollars in the process. But due to the jaw-setting determination of Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, Jr., the family-owned operation achieved success. Armed with his new wrapper, Carlito set his sights on producing the first Dominican puro—a cigar with the wrapper, binder, and filler all grown in the Dominican Republic. He named the new, seven-vitola line Fuente Fuente OpusX, and the cigars shipped on November 18, 1995—the anniversary of the birth of the company’s founder, Arturo Fuente. The cigars were an immediate hit, beginning the trend for rich and full-flavored cigars. As Carlito told Brent Butterworth in an interview at the IPCPR Trade Show in 2015, “ I really believe Fuente Fuente OpusX was the result of destiny or divine intervention.”
In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the OpusX brand, a select number of cigars were shipped in 2015 with a sub-band containing the words “20 Years.” With Prometheus as a collaborator, the Arturo Fuente Company produced 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). The Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Churchill Release 2016, which was included in the Opus22 assortment, received a 95 point “Breathtaking” review on Cigar Dojo. Additionally, the Arturo Fuente Company released its own highly-anticipated, new blend for the anniversary—the Fuente Fuente OpusX 20 Years Celebration.
OpusX 20 Years Celebration Father & Son Breakdown
- Wrapper: Dominican Shade-Grown (3rd priming)
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Limited
- Vitola: 6¼” × 49
- Price: $20.00 (MSRP) $30.00+ (secondary)
Produced to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Fuente Fuente OpusX brand, the OpusX 20 Years Celebration series arrived at a number of selected retailers in December of 2016. This new line of cigars is rolled in four sizes—Believe (5¾” x 52), Father & Son (6¼” x 49), God’s Whisper (6½” x 56), and Power of a Dream (6⅜” x 52). Prices on the vitolas vary widely, with some retailers demanding upwards of $40.00 per cigar. Unwrapped in cellophane, the cigars are shipped in twenty-count wooden boxes with a piano-hinged lid.
The box itself is one of the most exquisite examples produced by the company. Painted in vibrant tones and highly lacquered, the surface of the lid contains the iconic, four-color photo of Carlos Fuente, Sr. and his son—Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, Jr.—standing in a tobacco field wearing white Guayaberas and matching fedoras. Other traditional OpusX images and symbols fill in the remainder of the space. Upon opening the lid, the smoker is greeted with a horizontal run of cigars flanked by two cedar blocks, inscribed with quotes from both Carlos and Carlito. The quote from Carlos reads:
Except for the fact that the wrapper leaf comes from the third priming—instead of the upper primings used in the regular OpusX line—the exact tobaccos used in the composition of the OpusX 20 Years Celebration vitolas have not been publicly disclosed. Phone calls and emails to the Arturo Fuente company resulted in no additional information.
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The OpusX 20 Years Celebration Father & Son is an aristocratic looking cigar, entubed in a cedar sleeve with a royal blue ribbon at the foot. Its wrapper is quite smooth—with extremely tight seams, almost imperceptible veins, tiny amounts of tooth, and a triple cap. The color of the cigar is an equal mixture of beaver and cocoa brown, with contrasting blotches of russet scattered across the face. It is slightly darker than a Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share and a bit lighter than the standard OpusX. A light oiliness produces an ethereal sheen in the late-afternoon sun.
The Father & Son is encased with the traditional, highly-embossed OpusX band. However, the background color is blue instead of red—alluding to the hue of the river that wanders along the edge of the Chateau de la Fuente farm and the color of the bands used on the original Arturo Fuente cigars. A matching sub-band contains the words “20 Years.” Firmly packed from the foot to the cap—bordering on the edge of sun-dried papier-mâché—the wrapper aroma is a delicate combination of dried earth and natural tobacco, while the open foot smells of cedar and light barnyard.
After the cap of the toro is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw borders on perfection. Flavors of brown sugar, cedar, leather, and aged tobacco immediately touch the palate, while a medium level of spiciness formulates on both the upper and lower lips.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter, the first long draw produces a very robust blast of black pepper, which begins to diminish in intensity by the fifth puff. The dominant note is then enhanced with touches of assorted nuts and drip-brewed coffee. This combination culminates in a flavor profile that coats the entire tongue and the roof of the mouth while producing a lingering finish. The draw of the Father & Son is open, with just a touch of desirable resistance, generating an above-average amount of smoke output. Delicate aromas and flavors of cinnamon, dried fruits, and a whiff of vanilla mingle together with the primary notes, while cashew, cedar, hay, and white pepper are prominent on the smooth retrohale. As with the majority of the OpusX line, retrohaling is an essential part of the smoking experience (See “How to Retrohale a Cigar”). The burn line is very asymmetrical, requiring a touch-up at 3/4 of an inch.
As the OpusX 20 Years Celebration enters into its second third, the strength of the cigar gradually increases while the body begins to transition from medium toward medium-full. The black pepper present in the first third of the cigar continues to dominate the flavor profile, while the initial drip-brewed coffee note shifts toward a double espresso, sweetened with a brown sugar cube. Flavors and aromas of hay, ginger, wet earth, and a smidgen of chocolate-covered blueberry flirt in and out of the mix, adding to the overall complexity of the cigar. A tingle on the tip of the tongue develops, which is usually indicative of Piloto tobacco used in the filler blend. The draw begins to tighten and the smoke becomes rather dry, requiring a large sip of mineral water.
Room aroma is faint but sophisticated—aged tobacco with a touch of bonbon sweetness. The burn line remains crooked, holding around one and one-half inches of nickel ash, highlighted with streaks of battleship grey. After the second touch-up, the ash falls to the floor in flakey chunks. Surprisingly, both the main band and the sub-band are easily removed. On the retrohale, the notes present in the initial third are replaced by a mixture of sinus-clearing black pepper, oak, and moss, with trace amounts of cumin.
As it burns through its final third, the OpusX 20 Years Celebration Father and Son continues to provide a rather pleasant smoking experience—boldly flavored but with diminishing complexity. The draw becomes very open, requiring only light puffs to produce a prodigious amount of ceiling-clinging smoke. A chewy, meaty, and salty note begins to flirt in and out of the profile, like a lightly-charred lamb chop, seasoned with Fleur de Sel. Unfortunately, two additional touch-ups are required during this stage, resulting in a bitter finish with a strong mineral content.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “If I run across one.” The OpusX 20 Years Celebration Father & Son is a good cigar—with moments of excellence—but it did not live up to my initial expectations. The burn line was a problem throughout the smoking experience and the vitola did not display the overall complexity expected from a commemorative blend. In fact, after smoking the review sample, I lit an OpusX PerfecXion X, which I had purchased last fall. It was a better cigar. Perhaps a year or two of age will improve the 20 Years Celebration.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Espresso, Harp Lager, Armagnac, Bourbon, Rye
- Purchase Recommendation: Single or Five pack (for humidor aging)
- Outstanding Appearance
- Bold Flavors
- Initial Complexity
- Bitter Finish
- High Price Point
- Frequent Touch-Ups