Arturo Fuente – Anejo #77 “The Shark”
What better way to enjoy any holiday then lighting up a favorite, or even a rare cigar. I have a ton of the “I’ll smoke this on a special occasion” cigars. The more I get, it seems, the less I smoke. So as of late I have been trying my hardest to just suck it up and smoke ‘em as I get them. This week’s cigar was an exception to the rule.
Lee (@sirpantsornot) was nice enough to send me my first Arturo Fuente Anejo #77 in a trade we made a few weeks back. I think 2 or 3 of the cigars he sent alone, out price the value of my total package to him.
I held on to this one for a few weeks, knowing that Thanksgiving was just around the bend. I wanted to make sure I had someting extra special, and the Anejo was no let down.
The Good Stuff: The A. Fuente Anejo #77 (better known as the “shark”) is one of the rarest, and most sought after cigars to come out of the Fuente factory. If I am not mistaken the shark started out to be one of the Fuente’s Opus X line of cigars. Due to a massive hurricane that ripped through the Chateu de la Fuente crop in the late 1990′s Carlos Fuente Jr. was left short of prime tobacco to finish off the Anejo lines and made the decision to finish the cigar off with a Connecticut Broadleaf maduro Cognac 5-year aged wrapper. I’m not 100% positive of the amount of time the wrapper is actually aged in oaked cognac barrels, but it is said to be somewhere between 7-1o months. The Maduro wrapper fits snugly over only the most premium Dominican binder, and filler tobaccos.
The Anejo line is typically only found around Father’s day and Christmas making them incredibly difficult to find. The shark sports a torpedo vitola that transforms into a box-press as the body develops.
Size: 5 3/4 x 56 - Wrapper:Cognac-aged Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro - Binder/Filler: Dominican - Strength: Full
Prelight: The most obvious characteristic of the Shark is the rather odd shape. A. Fuente is known for their extreme precision in construction, and delicate vitolas. The shark boasts both. The shark starts off as a very pointy triple wrapped cap torpedo, but then halfway through the body morphs into a thick, elegant box press. I can’t even imagine the time and effort it takes to create such a complex shape. The wrapper is an extremely oily, almost black, dark brown. There were no signs of soft spots, nor any mis-construction. There was a massive vein running along side of this cigar that has me a bit fearful. The Anjeo Shark sports the common A. Fuente red and gold crested band, but also carries a soft red ribbon placed along the foot of the cigar. Unlike the rest of the Anejo line, the Shark is the only one that does not come in-cased in a cedar tube. The cellophane for the shark has “Reserva Xtra Viejo” printed in raised ink on it. The wrapper gives off a bitter chocolate scent, with soft hints of liquor. It smells a lot like “Godiva” liquor. The foot of the cigar gives off a much stronger, but similar scent, mixed in with hints of cedar and spice. The cold draw was very loose, and tasted much like the smell. Dark chocolate, nutmeg, grass, and hints of liquor. I could tell right away that I was in for a unique experience.
First Smoke: The shark cut perfectly against my Palio double bladed cutter. It also lit up with ease under my single flame butane torch. The first flavors I pulled from the Shark were that of bittersweet chocolate, toasted cashew, strong liquor (cognac), cedar, and grape leaf. This was an extremely complex flavor pallet and it took my quite a few draws to distinguish between the flavors. The draw is extremely loose, and very smooth. Each draw coated my mouth with a new layer of flavors. The Anejo produces large amounts of thin smoke, and tons of stationary smoke. The smoke itself smelled of strong tobacco and cedar. The anejo gives off a very bittersweet aftertaste. The burnline seems a bit off and extremely wavy on one half of the cigar (the one one with the gigantic vein). The ash is a dark to medium grey and seems very tightly packed with small amounts if flaking. It caught me by surprise that the ash only held on for about an inch before it gave way.
Halfway There: So far the smoothness of the shark has me enjoying every minute of it. As stated above, the anejo line is “full” bodied. I couldn’t even tell as I have felt absolutely no signs of nicotine. The Anejo burned through the box-press portion of the cigar pretty quickly, but as expected slowed quite considerably into the torpedo portion. Along with the slower burn, the shark’s draw is beginning to tighten up a bit as well. After the first ashing the shark actually corrected its own burn line and is now burning extremely straight. The flavors have switched up a bit. The chocolate is now taking a backburner as the liquor and cedar tastes are increasing in potency.
A little more than halfway through the cigar I did encounter a rather large crack in the wrapper:
I am almost positive this was due to extreme humidification of the binder/filler. I have been having trouble with my humidors as winter rolled in. The dryness of the air produced by my heater is taking its toll on them. To battle this I have increased the humidification in both of my humidors to almost triple of what I normally use. The humidity is still centered between 67% – 71% but the fluctuation is beating down a few of my sticks.
Finish: As I started to get down to the 2 inch mark the liquor taste grew in intensity and pretty much overpowered every other flavor the anejo was producing. I’ve never smoked anything that tasted anything similar to the Anejo, I might as well be drinking Cognac. The draw was still incredibly smooth despite the sharpness in flavor. I did have to touch up the cigar a few times towards the end, the vein just wouldn’t let up and kept burning much faster than the other half of the cigar. One odd note was the fact that the inner most core ash of the filler was an extreme bright white. Where as the rest of the ash was a medium grey with hints of brown. I finished this cigar, put it down, and walked away feeling absolutely no signs of nicotine. In total the Shark took about 2 hours to smoke down to the nub.
Overview: Despite the price tag ($25 – $35) and the extreme exclusiveness of this cigar, I would still pick it up if I ran into it again. It’s definitely a cigar that everyone should look out for and try at least once. I’m not a big liquor fan so the taste wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea. But I really enjoyed the complexity of this cigar and could see why it is one of the rarest and most sought after cigars to date.