Christmas music, decorated trees and Black Friday signal the start of the holidays for a lot of people, but many cigar smokers are getting in the spirit for a different reason this week: the holiday Arturo Fuente Añejo release.
Shipments have already begun arriving at some shops around the country, including several in New York City, with others expecting delivery in the next few days. The entire Añejo line ships just twice annually, typically around Father's Day and Christmas. It's usually not a large production, so only a few boxes make it to the stores that are able to acquire some.
The cigar has a nearly 15-year history, beginning with a disaster. In September of 1998, Hurricane Georges tore through the Caribbean Sea, causing widespread destruction throughout the region, including the famous Chateau de la Fuente tobacco plantation, far in the Dominican Republic where the wrapper leaf for the Fuente Fuente OpusX cigar is grown and harvested.
Two years later, the storm's destruction resulted in a shortage of Fuente Fuente OpusX wrapper leaf. But rather than halting production, Fuente president Carlos Fuente Jr. ordered the use of a different wrapper, an aged Connecticut broadleaf.
The dark Connecticut-broadleaf wrappers are aged in Cognac barrels, adding a certain character to the leaf. The line is currently available in seven sizes with the addition of a 48-ring-gauge corona gorda, the No. 60, two years ago. The infamous No. 77 (also known as the Shark) scored 93 in a Cigar Insider blind tasting during the holidays last year, and the line averaged 90 points.