The label on the cigar says Opus X but Mike in his email to me called it a Fuente PerfecXion X. I had to look it up online with the Cigar Aficionado magazine and they called it the Fuente Fuente OpusX PerfecXion X.
However baffling the Fuente family naming convention, Cigar Aficionado placed it number six on their list of the twenty-five best cigars of 2014 which was interesting to find out after the fact.
Out of the mixed collection that Mike sent me it was the first cigar I wanted to try because it was the one brand of cigar that was always unavailable during my days in Washington, DC. Why, might you ask? The cigar was so rare that each cigar store received only a limited number each year which they in turn doled out sparingly and then only to their top shelf clients.
Mike sent me either a dozen or thirteen cigars – I really don’t know the precise number because in my excitement to unwrap the box that had traveled all the way from Singapore – the true count just didn’t seem important to me at the time. And now that they are reboxed and resting I really don’t want to disturb them by doing something as vulgar as counting, which wouldn’t adequately measure the largeness of such a gift anyway. And cigar wrappers can be so fragile that one doesn’t jostle cigars about unnecessarily.
So I got this mixed collection of cigars on March 9th. I received them just minutes before getting a somewhat fretful email from Mike in Bhutan inquiring after their whereabouts . The box was in transit a month and he had every right to be concerned as the shipment came through our respective local postal systems. No special delivery, just the post office.
A cold weather system arrived the day before the cigars so I had to wait it out until yesterday to actually fire my first one up. There are two things that cigars positively hate and that is wind and cold. And for three days we had plenty of both. I couldn’t smoke one in the house because I couldn’t open a window because I didn’t want to let any of that cold in. The house, temperature wise, was holding pretty steady and I didn’t want to upset the fragile equilibrium. Houses in this part of Mexico, at this elevation (5100 ft.) have neither air-conditioning nor heating as the weather here is generally benign.
The gift box contained an assortment of cigars. One – a Tambon – “a hidden gem from Indonesia “ – as Mike phrased it in his email, is quite possibly the fattest cigar I’ve ever seen. Does anyone else make what must be a 70 ring gauge cigar? It so fat I don’t think even a Rottweiler could squeeze something out that big.
Which reminds me of my personal favorite cigar story.
Mid-90’s, a restaurant in N. California that a friend of mine owned at the time. Ian enjoyed cigars so for those special occasions when he hosted private parties those of us who smoked were allowed to do so in the restaurant.
At one particular event I was smoking a very large ring gauge oscuro (maybe a 60) and this beautiful young wife of a work colleague dressed in a pale blue cashmere sweater which matched her eyes leaned across the table, her pearls glowing in the candlelight, smiled demurely and said, ‘You know. You look like a movie star with that thing.’
I was thinking, ‘Arnie, maybe?’
After a moment I said, ‘Yeah. Which one?’
Her eyes twinkled as she said, ‘Lassie.’
We both couldn’t stop laughing.
A half hour later when she picked my cigar off the ashtray to take a puff I said, ‘You know. You look like a movie star with that thing.’ Which set off another round of riotous laughter.
How originally funny that was; it still makes me smile to think of it.
The Fuente PerfecXion X that I received was maybe 52 ring gauge X 6” long protectively sheathed in cedar tube with a red ribbon wound around the end to protect the most exposed part of the wrapper from damage.
I unsheathed it and cut off the smallest part of the wrapper at the tip and fired it up. The draw was perfect. The burn was even from start to finish. The construction was immaculate as one would expect from Fuente’s top line.
Note: Yes, cigars are inspected and sorted and ones like the PerfecXion X are rolled by only the experts on the floor but I have still found from experience that there can be discrepancies across a box of 20 or 25 cigars and that it is not unusual to get one or two that are less than perfect. Too tight of a draw. Irregular burn. Excessive bitterness at the finish. Something.
This cigar was flawless. The first couple of inches were pure rich cigar goodness which thankfully developed into a great complexity of flavor that began in the middle and lasted all the way to the end. And yes, I smoked down to the nub. Delicious.
What nonsmokers do not understand is that smoking a great cigar is more akin to a culinary adventure and has little or nothing to do with nicotine. And a truly great cigar has a sweet spot that tastes like a wood fired grilled porterhouse steak: charred bone, seared gristle, smoky fat, all with that beefy goodness left a little bit on the bloody rare side.
And the greater the cigar, the longer the sweet spot.