Any updates on if these will be released any time soon? I have been anxiously waiting for this release.
Review: OpusX Angel’s Share Robusto (Prerelease)
Last year at the IPCPR show in Las Vegas, we started hearing rumors that the Fuentes were working on a large number of different cigar releases to coincide with the company’s 100th anniversary this year. The first released example of this, came in December of 2011 with the launch of the extremely limited Fuente Fuente OpusX ForbiddenX 13.
A new version of Fuente Fuente OpusX, called Angel’s Share, was one of those blends we heard murmurs of. It supposedly was a tweaked OpusX blend with a different wrapper blended to be sweeter than a normal OpusX with a noticeable change in strength. Instead of the top priming, Angel’s Share was said to use a middle portion of the tobacco plant.
Dallas’ own Frank Seltzer, who writes for the J.R. Cigars blog, posted this about his conversation with Carlos “Carlito: Fuente Jr.:
The Fuentes weren’t showing off much new stuff; instead Carlito and his father are focused on next year when the family marks 100 years in the business. They are planning for a special Opus X called “Angel’s Share,” a project for which they’ve been putting aside Opus X tobacco for a long time. According to Carlito, for years, people wanted the dark Rosado wrapper on the Opus X. But, he says, there can be a better wrapper. “The heart of the tobacco plant has the best tobacco; it is much lighter in color and sweeter than the top. We have been sitting on this tobacco for years and only now have we made cigars with it. The taste is amazing,” he says. “The Angel’s Share will have a white band and the idea is [that] the smoke goes up to heaven—it is the ‘angel’s share’ of the smoke. A percentage of the sales of these cigars will help the children from our foundation go to different colleges.” Fuente says it is all part of the family’s upcoming Destino Siglo (“destiny to the century”) series.
Cigar Dave further explained the blend here:
On the new Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share He is going to use the middle part of the plant, instead of the top part, the top priming — closer to the sun, which is more fuller flavored. He is going to use the middle part of the plant, it’s going to be a sweeter cigar. It will still be medium, medium-full, but it will be more of a medium, sweeter type of flavor.
And the relaunched Fuente website mentioned Angel’s Share pretty deliberately and explains:
The term Angel’s Share is used during the wine making process. Wine makers often use oak barrels to store their wine during the aging process. When the wine ages for long periods of time, some of it will evaporate from the barrel. The evaporating wine is called the Angel’s Share, alluding to the belief that the guardian angels that watch over the wine, sample it and give their blessings.
The Fuente Family has been blessed with good fortune and knows the importance of sharing blessings as well. We are long-standing supporters of the following charities and believe that the most important thing in life is “giving back”.
The Fuente Family proudly supports the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation and the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.
Eventually, we learned Angel’s Share was part of at least six different cigars Fuente planned specifically for their 100th anniversary. The known projects are:
- Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Aniversario — A slightly larger versions of the popular 8-5-8 with a special Dominican wrapper.
- Casa Cuba — We broke the story here and showed off the cigar here. This is expected to be a regular production release with a lower price point. Don Carlos Fuente Sr. is behind this project.
- Destino Al Siglo — A special secondary-banded version of the Gran AniverXario cigar with a completely different blend.
- Don Arturo Aniversario — Six vitolas of the annual release with a special wrapper.
- FFOX Angel’s Share
- FFOX ForbiddenX 13 — Released in late 2011 and again in mid 2012 in extremely small quantities.
As the summer approached, we began to learn more about Angel’s Share. Sources close to Carlito Fuente told us the cigar was in fact a tweaked OpusX blend made to be a bit sweeter, but it was largely being created to provide an OpusX experience for smokers who couldn’t handle the strength of the famed brand.
By the middle of summer, we had amassed four different prerelease versions of Angel’s Share from various sources.
Here’s a picture of three of the versions:
- Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share Robusto (5 1/4 x 52) — Prerelease bands, almost production bands.
- Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share Robusto (5 1/4 x 52) — Don Carlos bands with felt foot band.
- Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share Robusto (5 1/2 x 54) — Slightly larger in length and ring gauge. Alternative red shield FFOX band with felt foot band.
In addition, here’s another 5 1/4 x 52 Angel’s Share prerelease with a different FFOX shield:
For a while, we had been hearing about delays with the project, unrelated to the massive Fuente fire of 2011. And eventually, Carlito announced in June the projects were formally delayed indefinitely, like until 2013. The message read:
To Our Friends,
There are times when fate has other plans for us, and this is one of those times.
As you know, we planned to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Arturo Fuente cigars this year with several special events. However, fate stepped in and handed us a series of personal and professional challenges that have made this year a trying time. As a result, we have decided to postpone our celebrations for a year. In 2013, we plan to celebrate “YEAR ONE” of the next century of the Arturo Fuente Family of cigars. We look forward to sharing the next century with you.
Carlos P. Fuente, President
While many believed his announcement meant there would be no appearance from any of the 100th anniversary projects at IPCPR 2012, Keith Park’s Prometheus, who partners with the Fuentes for special releases, announced shortly before the show Angel’s Share would amongst their releases for IPCPR. Along with the new FFOX Angel’s Share, Destino al Siglo was shown off at both the Cigar Family and Prometheus booths in Orlando, while Casa Cuba was quietly available in some capacity at that latter.
The Cigar Family booth, which Fuente shares with distribution partner J.C. Newman, was completely redesigned to honor the 100th anniversary. And inside were prerelease boxes of Angel’s Share. Despite the appearance, Fuente’s reps had essentially zero information to share with retailers, no release date and samples were essentially unheard of.
The prereleases boxes, which sources at Fuente say are slightly different in color from the final production versions (see Final Notes), look like this:
But enough about that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share Robusto
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Dominican Chateau de la Fuente Sun Grown
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Size: 5 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Box-Pressed Robusto
- MSRP: n/a
- Release Date: November 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Compared to the regular OpusX wrapper, the Angel’s Share is shockingly light in color, however, it is silky smooth to the touch and totally seamless. There is a slight box-press visible and it has the perfect amount of give when squeezed, not too hard or soft. Aroma from the Dominican wrapper smells strongly of raisins, sweet cedar, creamy nuts and slight nutmeg. The band, which once again is not the exact color of the final version, is gorgeous and looks great when contrasted against the lightness of the wrapper. Cold draw is astoundingly sweet, with notes of raisins, chocolate and caramel that leap onto the tongue.
The first third of the Fuente Fuente OpusX Angel’s Share starts out very creamy with cedar, raisins and leather flavors joined by some great white pepper on the retrohale. There is a great nuttiness that seems to be underneath the other flavors, although fairly constant throughout the first third. The strength is far from non-exist, but it is only at about a mild medium by the end of the first third. As for the construction, the draw is great and the burn line is great, no touch-ups needed.
The second third of the new OpusX loses a bit of the creaminess, although it is still definitely present, instead adding a nice sweetness that reminds me of honey and vanilla. I am also still tasting cedar, leather and just a tiny amount of an earthy note, but it is never around very long. The strength of the Fuente is building, ending the middle third at a solid medium. The burn line is wavering a bit, but it evens out without any touch-ups from a lighter.
The final third of the Angel’s Share is all about balance. The strength, which peaks around the fuller side of medium halfway through the final third, and the sweetness from the second third combine with the creaminess and the flavors of the first third to really make a great ending. The great white pepper note is still present on the retrohale, but there’s almost no spice at all. Construction remains excellent, allowing me to easily nub the cigar without any harshness or heat.
- This is a Dominican puro.
- The term “Angel’s Share” is in reference to the term in wine circles that refers to the small amount wine that is lost to evaporation during the aging process, which is supposedly enjoyed by guardian angels that watch over the wine.
- According to sources at Fuente, the reason Angel’s Share has been delayed is because of the packaging. For whatever reason, the exact details of the color scheme envisioned and sought after by Carlito have been a challenge to print. That being said, the bands you see above are the design and said to be very close in color. This confirms that the delay is not a direct cause of the fire in 2011.
- The wrapper on the Angel’s Share is gorgeous, but also extremely fragile. While I did not have any major issues with burn, the wrapper did crack a bit, and I could tell it could be a problem with other samples.
- You can see just how light the wrapper is. Here’s a picture of a 10 year-old Fuente Fuente OpusX and an Angel’s Share:
- There’s a bit of inconsistency regarding when the idea was formed. On the Cigar Dave Show in January of 2012, Dave says that Carlito told him that he come up with the idea for a release called “Angel’s Share” after a huge fire burned an aging barn with untold amount of Fuente tobacco in it. Carlito was thinking that the angels above the burning barn would be enjoying “some great cigars.” It should be noted, that this doesn’t jive well timeline-wise. The Fuente fire occurred in August of 2011, which was long after the trademark was filed in 2009 and after the cigar had been known about, including the aforementioned Frank Seltzer article.
- Looking at the secondary band, it seems that there is a dove in the place of the apostrophe in the word Angel’s.
- The final production size that we are reviewing is the same size (5 1/4 x 50) as two of the other prereleases I smoked. However, the main difference is that the production versions, i.e. the banded ones, are box-pressed while the prereleases are round.
- As of now, the only release date scheduled is the November release of the Toro through the 2012 Limited Edition Fuente 100th Anniversary Humidors by Prometheus. Fuente is not willing to commit to both a firm release date or any other regular production sizes.
- That being said, there are some Angel’s Share that are being auctioned off at Federal Cigar during their Toast Across America event and auction. Included in the auction include Toros, Robustos and Fuente’s Lancero, the Phantom. The latter will presumably be a limited edition for charity and other events, much like the regular Fuente Fuente OpusX Phantom. You can see photos of everything on their Facebook page.
- The Prometheus humidors, while expensive, look great:
- While one might assume because of the wrapper this will be a mild cigar, it’s not. It’s definitely a lot lighter than a regular Fuente Fuente OpusX, but the Angel’s Share is a solid medium in regards to strength.
- The Angel’s Share is quite a bit sweeter than a normal OpusX release and akin much more to a seriously aged Ashton VSG without the insane complexity. However, the dichotomy between the sweetness and strength that is present in the profile is very interesting.
- Because of the limited release cycle, stellar reputation and intense demand, OpusX is often sold on both the retail and secondary markets at high mark-ups. The reality is, Fuente makes a lot of OpusX as a whole with a few special sizes being very limited. Currently, MSRP for a few sizes of the core sizes is actually under $10.00. It’s unclear what pricing Angel’s Share will have.
- Construction on the Angel’s Share was excellent for all three samples with perfect draws and great burn lines for the most part. The wrapper did crack a tiny bit on one of the samples, but it was not a problem when I smoked the cigar. The burn wasn’t perfect, particularly in the second third, but I never touched up the cigar.
- The Fuente website’s tab for Angel’s Share specifically mentions St. Jude’s Hospital and the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, it’s unclear if Angel’s Share will specifically benefit one or both charities. However, the Prometheus releases of Angel’s Share will at the very least benefit the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.
- The cigars for this review came from a variety of sources, the sample photographed was given to halfwheel by Fuente at IPCPR 2012. Others were acquired from sources other than Fuente.
- Charlie Minato contributed to the history portion of this review.
- Prometheus, who will be handling distribution of a limited amount of the Angel’s Share, is a halfwheel sponsor.
- While not a large cigar by any means, the final production sample smoked quite slow for its size. The average final smoking time was around one hour and 20 minutes.
The Bottom Line: It’s almost shocking it took Fuente this long to make a milder OpusX given how well the brand is known amongst non-smokers, who likely will struggle with strength of a non-aged version. While they definitely made it milder, it’s not that mild. I can tell you that it is stronger than it looks; I can tell you that it is exceedingly creamy and somewhat sweet throughout; I can tell you that the construction is excellent; and I can tell you that I enjoyed it quite a bit. Even if this retails over standard OpusX pricing, like the cost of the Prometheus version, Angel’s Share is still one of the best medium to medium-full cigars of 2012. If in fact Fuente was going for a medium to full-bodied cigar with creaminess, nuttiness and sweetness contrasted by the white pepper, something I really enjoyed, they nailed it.
Final Score: 91