Review: Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Gran Corona (Natural)
At the 2011 IPCPR show, Prometheus showed off the 2011 Limited Edition Fuente Story Humidor, a special release of the previously released Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario in a total of ten sizes, including eight new shapes. This was the second Prometheus release of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario in 2011, as they previously released them in one of each of the two wrappers as part of the 2011 Fuente Story Travel Humidor alongside the Don Carlos Edición de Aniversario Double Robusto and Fuente Fuente OpusX Scorpio Maduro. The Don Arturo Gran AniverXario was first released in 2008 as part of the 2008 Limited Edition Fuente Story Humidor by Prometheus. The Prometheus press release from the 2008 reads:
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. RELEASE INFORMATION The 2008 release quantity: 96 Humidors
- Walnut Burl (30)
- Macassar Ebony (25)
- Red Sycamore (25)
- Yellow Eye Maple (16)
Each box comes with: 96 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars produced in 2001 (Aged 7 Years) Each box is serial-numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity. MSRP $7,500.00 The MSRP will vary, depending on the tobacco tax and import duty rates in the state or country where the authorized Prometheus dealer is located. Dimensions: 14.13 inches x 14.13 x 9.75 (360mm x 360 x 250) Weight: 19.85 lbs
Inside were two different cigars:
Moki of Vitolas.net provides a bit more background information:
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 OpusX Rosado wrapper (as with the Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario cigars), and is the same vitola as the OpusX 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 OpusX 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 OpusX 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.
Between the 2008 release and 2011, there have been at least two other releases of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, more of which is in the Final Notes.
The Prometheus press release for the 2011 Limited Edition Fuente Story Humidor reads:
Made in France Total of 99 humidors produced in commemoration of the 99th anniversary of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company:
- 35 Walnut Burl
- 35 Macassar Ebony
- 29 Red Sycamore
Each humidor is serial-numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticy. Storage capacity: 75 cigars External Dimension: 10 inches Wide x 10 Deep x 6.5 High (25 cm W x 25 D x 16.5 H) Each humidor comes with 25 Natural and 25 Sun Grown in 5 sizes:
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Robusto Natural (50 x 5)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Double Robusto Natural (52 x 5 3/4)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Gran Corona Natural (48 x 6)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Toro Natural (50 x 6)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Short Churchill Natural (50 x 6 1/2)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Robusto Sun Grown (50 x 5)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Belicoso Sun Grown (52 x 5 1/4)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Double Robusto Sun Grown (52 x 5 3/4)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Gran Corona Sun Grown (48 x 6)
- 5 Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Toro Sun Grown (50 x 6)
MSRP $2,995.00 The MSRP will vary, depending on the tobacco tax and import duty rates in the state or country where the authorized Fuente Aged Selection dealer is located. For customers residing in the U.S., there will be state tobacco and sales taxes. For customers residing outside the U.S., the import duty and local tobacco tax will be added.
The five Natural Gran AniverXario vitolas look like:
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Robusto Natural (50 x 5)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Double Robusto Natural (52 x 5 3/4)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Gran Corona Natural (48 x 6)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Toro Natural (50 x 6)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Short Churchill Natural (50 x 6 1/2)
The five Sun Grown Gran AniverXario vitolas look like:
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Robusto Sun Grown (50 x 5)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Belicoso Sun Grown (52 x 5 1/4)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Double Robusto Sun Grown (52 x 5 3/4)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Gran Corona Sun Grown (48 x 6)
- Don Arturo Gran AniverXario, Toro Sun Grown (50 x 6)
The three humidors look like:
(Images via Prometheus)
Prometheus has done numerous special humidor releases, one interesting note is that they don’t actually ship the cigars in the humidors themselves. Instead, they ship them in regular cigar boxes.
Here’s what the two Gran Corona releases from 2011 Limited Edition Fuente Story Humidor look like (Natural Wrapper on Top, Sun Grown Wrapper on Bottom):
But enough, of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Gran Corona (Natural)
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Dominican Chateau de la Fuente Rosado
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic AF13 Blend (Mixture of OpusX, Don Carlos, Hemingway and 858)
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Gran Corona
- MSRP: $59.90 (Humidors of 50, $2995.00)
- Release Date: October 2011
- Number of Cigars Released: 99 Humidors of 5 Cigars (495 Total Cigars)*
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review:3*There were 99 Humidors of 50 cigars, but only five were the Natural Version of Gran Corona. *An extensive history of the full release of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario is in the Final Notes.
The Rosado version of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario is an interesting looking cigar with a mottled medium brown wrapper that has quite a few bumps up and down its length. It has a slight box press, and is just short of rock hard when squeezed. The Chateau de la Fuente wrapper is silky smooth to the touch and smells strongly of cedar, sweet chocolate and a bit of coffee.
The first third of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario starts quickly with some noticeable black pepper, creamy leather, cedar and some great spice on the tongue. After about 15 puffs the spice dies down, but the pepper sticks around, although the amount changes throughout the first third, sometime stronger, sometimes weaker. The profile is a bit harsh at first, but starts to get better as soon as the spice dies down. Draw is great, but the burn is a bit erratic. Strength starts out medium and ends the first third the same, although it does seem to be getting slightly stronger. Coming into the second third of the Don Arturo, the profile changes pretty dramatically. The harshness is gone, the spice is reduced and now replaced by a wonderful, creamy and slightly sweet nutty note, along with flavors of cedar, earth and coffee. At one point, for just a second, I think I taste a distinct flavor of buttery popcorn that takes me by surprise, but it only lasts about 3 puffs, and sadly never returns. The draw is still perfect, and the burn is still erratic. Strength is a slightly fuller medium, but seems to be holding steady. The final third of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Natural is another turnaround. Suddenly, the spice from the first third comes back, albeit not as strong, and combines perfectly with the sweet and creamy profile that is still evident from the second third. The flavors are pretty much the same, but the nuttiness remains the dominant note. Think of a cashew sprinkled with a little pepper and sugar, and that is pretty close. It is not a particularly strong flavor, but it is definitely there. Draw is great to the end, and the burn does get a little better in this third than in the previous two, but is still wavy. Strength ends at a medium full, which is fine by me. The cigar does get a bit hot at the end, but I probably smoked it further than I should have, and I ended with about three-quarters of an inch left.
- This is the fifth release of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario cigars:
- The 2008 Fuente Story — 96 humidors with 96 cigars in each: 48 Sun Grown and 48 of Natural.
- 2009 Fuente Story Travel Humidor — 1,000 boxes, each with 1 Sun Grown wrapper, alongside three other cigars.
- 2011 Fuente Story Travel Humidor — Released in of 2011, 1,912 humidors contained 1 Sun Grown and 1 Natural Wrapper, alongside two other cigars.
- 2011 Fuente Story Travel Humidor — Released in November of 2011, 2,011 travel humidors contained 1 Sun Grown and 1 Natural Wrapper, alongside two other cigars.
- 2011 Fuente Story Humidor — 99 Humidors released in October of 2011, each with 25 Sun Grown Wrappers and 25 Natural Wrappers.
- I will save you the time and effort of adding all these up and tell you that the total number of Don Arturo Gran AniverXarios with Sun Grown wrappers officially released since 2008 is 12,105 over different vitolas and the total number of Don Arturo Gran AniverXarios with Natural wrappers officially released since 2008 is 11,105 over different vitolas.
- The Arturo Fuente Destino Al Siglo 13 that has been sold at Casa Fuente and Holt’s during the annual Fuente Mania and is believed to be the same cigar as the original Sun Grown Corona Gorda. The Destino Al Siglo 13′s wrapper, which is Sun Grown, is grown on a special 13-acre part of Chateau de la Fuente.
- Interestingly enough, the original release featured only the Sun Grown version wrapped in cedar, the May 2011 release had only the Natural in cedar, the October 2011 (this release) had neither in cedar and the November 2011 had both cigars in cedar.
- You may remember that Charlie did a review of both the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Natural and Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Sun Grown back when thecigarfeed.com was around, and hated them, to put it lightly. There is a major difference between the cigars for his review and the ones we are publishing this week, in that the cigars that Charlie reviewed back then were from the release in 2008 and the Don Arturo Gran AniverXarios that we are reviewing this week are from a newer release.
- That being said, neither Prometheus and Fuente will comment on when exactly the 2011 versions were rolled, besides that it was a while ago.
- The cigars were actually on display in the Fuente booth at IPCPR 2011, here’s a picture.
- I have to say, while I love the simplicity of the regular OpusX bands, I also love the complex and ornate nature of the bands on the Don Arturo Gran AniverXario series. They are extremely well done, with a great portrait of Arturo on the front and portraits of Carlos Sr. and Carlito on opposing sides and gold engravings all over. Also on the band are:
- The year 2012, which is Fuente’s 100th Anniversary.
- Arturo’s signature in red underneath his portrait.
- The OpusX logo on the right.
- Perhaps most interesting, the number “13″ inside a clock logo that was recently used on a secondary band for the Fuente 100 Years release. The reason as to why this is most interesting is that these bands have been out since around 2001, so that means that “13″ logo has been in existence for at least that long, but I have never heard anyone mention it before the ForbiddenX 13 was released. (You can read more about the meaning behind “13″ in regard to the Fuente family in our reviews of the OpusX Forbidden X 13 God’s Whisper 1924 and OpusX ForbiddenX 13 Nacimiento 1912.) The reason for this is likely because the “13″ was on the back, covered by the OpusX logo, meaning that you would have to undo the band in order to see it.
- This is a band that is meant to be on a $50.00 cigar. Photo via vitolas.net.
- There were definitely points in the cigar’s profile that I could taste similarities to an aged OpusX, especially in the second third.
- Both the Natural and the Sun Grown versions have the same band, but when the respective cigars have a cedar wrap, the Sun Grown wrapper has a black foot band, while the Natural wrapper has a red foot band.
- One retailer is offering the Red Sycamore humidor without cigars for $300.00. Prometheus won’t disclose how much the humidor sans cigars would be valued at, but it is safe to assume that the humidor tax is in effect.
- I love it when a cigar starts with a strong spicy note, then morphs into a more creamy and sweet profile, it just hits my palate perfectly. Interestingly, I don’t like it as much when it starts creamy/sweet and finishes spicy.
- The finish on the Gran AniverXarios seems to go on forever. Definitely one of the best attributes of this cigar.
- The smoke production for the Gran AniverXarios is quite good.
- It seems that this is not the last time that the Don Arturo will be released.
- While I appreciate the fact that there are five different vitolas, I really wish (as I always do) there there was something smaller than 48RG, the smallest that is offered in this release. I think a Corona or even a Lonsdale would really rock in this blend.
- I smoked three samples for this review (two Gran Coronas and one Robusto) and the flavors, construction and profile were remarkably similar, which honestly is what you should expect in a cigar that costs this much.
- The draw was perfect on all three samples I smoked, but the burn was erratic on all three samples I smoked as well. It was nothing major, and easily fixed, but still noticeable.
- The final smoking time for both Gran Coronas was right at 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Don Arturo Gran AniverXarios, our sponsors have them in stock. Check out Tobacco Grove (only $29.95 each) or Casa de Montecristo (708.352.6668).
- In the interest of full disclosure, Prometheus is a sponsor of halfwheel.
- Editor’s Note: As has happened in the past, the history for this review was compiled and written by Charlie, the review and photographs however is all Brooks.
The Bottom Line: This was obviously a cigar blended for flavor, not strength, and in that I think they succeeded. There is quite the symphony of flavors throughout the smoke, and I was a bit surprised at the complexity of what I was tasting at certain points. Having said that, this is a fairly light cigar, particularly after the first third, and you really have to concentrate on what you are tasting to get the most out of it (or at least, I did). This is not a cigar that you smoke when you are paling around with buddies playing poker, but a cigar that you smoke in quiet contemplation. Is it worth the money that is charged for them? In my case, yes, albeit just a few. I love having a cigar like this that I can pull out at certain times and know exactly what I am going to get from it.
Final Score: 88