Happy new year! In case you missed it my top 10 list of best cigars of 2016 went live last week, as well as Jeremy’s top 5 cigars of 2016. With that out of the way, lets get the ball rolling on 2017. With this absolutely amazing weather I decided to step out back with an Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 and a bottle of Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Quad with Cherries added.
The Good Stuff:
The Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 comes from a long line of very, very popular Anejo cigars. To date, the Anejo family consists of eight formats, No. 46 ( 5 5/8 x 46), No. 48 (7 x 48), No. 49 (7 5/8 x 49), No. 50 (5 1/4 x 50), No. 55 (6 x 55), No. 60 ( 6 1/8 x 48), No. 77 (5 7/8 x 50/64), and the No. 8-8-8 (6 5/8 x 44). The name “Anejo” translates to “Aged”, as all the tobacco contained in each Anejo blend is very well aged.
As previously stated the Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 is a torpedo which comes in at 6 5/8 x 44. The blend consists of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Dominican Binder, and Dominican Fillers. Each format comes packaged in boxes of 25 except the 888 which comes in a box of 24, and the No. 77 comes packaged in boxes of 20. They range from $15.45 to $10.96 a stick. Ideally you can find these sticks around Father’s day and Christmas. I picked up a box of these over from our friends at Bonita Smoke Shop.
Size: 6 5/8 x 44
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Pairing: Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Quad with Cherries (Quad 9.2% ABV)
With he exception of the No. 77 each Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva comes wrapped in cedar sleeves, with red ribbons on them. After taking the cedar off of the cigar I am greeted with an incredibly dark brown wrapper. The color is very consistent, and as close to black as you can get. The wrapper feels hard as a rock with a whole ton of gritty tooth along with a massive amount of oils. There are some medium sized veins running through the cigar’s slender body leading up to the very point, tapered torpedo style cap. The cigar itself is very heavy and feels like it could do a fair amount of damage if you hit someone over the head with it. The Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 is polished off with the standard red, Arturo Fuente Anejo band each one of the blends in the line carries.
The wrapper on the Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 gives off a very bold musk, cherry, and sweet aroma while the foot of the cigar is much more natural, dirty, and earthy with a good amount of natural tobacco aromas. The cap cut clean and easily using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw is very meaty with tons of berry, sweetness and musk.
The first few puffs on the Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 were a bit dry, but once the wrapper started burning that all changed. The flavor profile starts with a deep plum and cherry backed by a good amount of sweetness and musk with some subtle clove, cedar, and caramel flavors. The draw was really tight at first, so I clipped a bit more off than usual from the cap and now it’s pouring out smoke like there is no tomorrow. I love it, each puff kicked out a ton of thick, white smoke now while the cigar shows off a ton of stationary smoke as it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is a bit wavy, but pretty compacted as it leave behind a trail of bright white ash which held on for an inch before falling into my ashtray.
Into the second third and the flavors have balanced out a bit and become much more cohesive. The flavor profile in the Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 still leads with cherry, plum, and musk backed by cedar, dirt, vanilla and clove. The retrohale really helps bring out the cedar and clove as well as some really subtle spice that I don’t find myself really picking up otherwise. The burn line has completely correctly itself and is now burning dead even while I close out the second third with only the slightest nicotine kick.
Not much has changed as I enter the final third of the Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 and I’m ok with that. The flavors are still similar to the second this in that it leads with cherry, plum and musk with some light cedar, vanilla and clove with an overall sweet profile. Once I start to get to the midpoint of the final third however the sweetness and cherry start to really take charge separating from the rest of the pack. The cigar took almost 2 hours to take down to the nub and I experience no harshness, nor any extended heat. I did however get a decent amount of sap build up on a few of the cigars I smoked. I really tried to pace myself this last time thinking that I was just smoking the cigar too fast, but it still happened. I may just let these rest for a while longer and see how they pan out later on.
The Arturo Fuente Anejo series has been a long-time staple in just about every cigar enthusiast’s humidor. I’ve smoked so many of these I lost count, but often I smoke these during holidays, with friends, or as a celebratory moment so they seldom find their way into my reviews. Sitting back and really taking my time to pick apart the flavor profile and experience made me realize just how special these cigars are. They offer up a complex, yet very authentic profile that you just don’t really find in a lot of cigars. The 888 format really leaned heavy on the cedar, cherry, and sweetness that the Connecticut Broadleaf carries with it. Some of the larger ring gauged versions of this cigar are much more subtle. While they are sometimes hard to find, I think it’s in just about anyone’s best interest to pick up at least a handful of these to have on hand for that special moment.
The pairing choice was an easy one here. Sierra Nevada casually releases brews in it’s Belgian style “Ovila” series a few times a year which in this particular case is brewed in collaboration with Monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This particular release is their Abbey Quad with Cherries added. Brewed at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in California this Belgian style Quad comes in at a whopping 9.2% ABV. The Abbey Quad starts out with a rush of tart cherry. It’s semi-sweet, and not too sour. The cherry is backed by caramel, malt, musk and a bit of booziness with a heavy mouthfeel before finishing crisp with more cherry, musk, booze, and a hint of vanilla. Since the Arturo Fuente Anejo Reserva No. 888 was so berry/musk forward I knew this would be a perfect pairing as this beer offered and insanely similar flavor profile.