Just over 3 years ago, I wrote a review on the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau. If you haven’t read it, or would like to reference back, you can find it here. Despite being 2+ years old, this single review still (to this day) results in a constant stream of hate mail from diehard Fuente fans, in addition to in-depth debates with retail store customers. “How can you not like Fuente?” “You're insane, 'hater'!” “Your palate sucks!” “You’re an embarassment to the cigar community!” I hear it all the time.
As a gesture of good faith, I am conducting a follow-up review of Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva (the standard Arturo Fuente) in the same size, Double Chateau. It’s a popular cigar and worth another shot. After all, my palate has evolved over the past 3 years, so things might be different. So...once and for all, let’s settle this.
The Double Chateau is a lighter, rustic looking cigar. The blonde Connecticut shade wrapper contains very little oils and a series of tiny veins running throughout the leaf. As expected, the Spanish cedar sleeve has created a sweet, cedary influence on the pre-light aroma. The barrel contains no soft spots, potraying a solid roll from head to toe.
Upon lighting, my palate is coated by a smooth creaminess that instantly begins to dissipate with each pull on the cigar. Shortly thereafter, the true nature of the blend begins to surface. Tobacco, toast and cedar. The aftertaste has a quick, metallic component, as if I bit into a piece of aluminum foil stuck on my food - sans the low-voltage electric shock. An inch and a half in and it’s clear this is a medium-bodied cigar, on the lighter side of the medium scale. The draw is nice and the flaky ash is still intact, but the cigar begins to burn a little crooked. Midway through, I notice a slightly grassy flavor is beginning to develop. Normally I would say this cigar could be young, but I am not picking up the bitterness of green tobacco. Hints of this flavor remain throughout the remainder of the burn, and often overpowers the faint notes of toast and cedar well. With an inch left, I put the cigar down and cut another.
The second cigar looked and smoked about the same. There was no metallic aftertaste, but the grassyness was definitely there. Like the aroma of fresh lawn clippings working its way through my sinuses and down the back of the palate. Not very appealing.
I don’t get it. Arturo Fuente is just not for me. Let the floggings continue.
Arturo Fuente, one of the most widely known names in the cigar industry. On a daily basis, I come in contact with enthusiasts that live and die by the Fuente name, swearing off all cigars unless it has this infamous signature somewhere on the band. Why? Beats me, there are so many great cigars out there it’s hard to believe a true enthusiast would limit himself to just one maker. Personally, I’ve yet to find the attraction to Arturo Fuente cigars. From the Gran Reserva to the Opus X, I just don’t see what all the hoopla is about. But, I am always willing to take a retest, so I’ll give the Gran Reserva another go. Considering it’s the top selling Fuente, I figure this line will be the brand’s best representative.
I picked up a 5-pack of the Double Chateau, an attractive over-sized toro wrapped in a cedar sleeve. I am a stickler for cedar sleeves. Anyway, it smells pretty good. The pleasant, slightly sweet aroma hints at a flavorful, balanced cigar. So far so good. And so I move on. It lights up like a champ and instantly burns even. The flavor off the start is nice. I am picking up some toasty, woody notes lent by the cedar sleeve and a little bit of pepper. Not much though. The ash burns white and firm, and the cigar emits an abundance of white smoke. Great construction. Unfortunately, the flavor just couldn’t keep up. The cigar became rather dull, losing most of the luster I noticed from the first 5 minutes. This not only disappoints me, it scares me, since the Double Chateau is 6¾” long and still has over 5” to go. As expected, based on my past experiences with this cigar, the flavor does not return. After the initial burst (read tease), the cigar becomes quite uneventful. I just puff air until I’ve decided on something else to satisfy my palate. I’ve noticed this with almost every Fuente I smoke, which is too bad, because they’re made incredibly well. They look great, smell great, and have a pretty band. But, it takes a helluva lot more to sell me than a pretty band with a famous name on it, especially at Fuente-like prices. Today’s test results are the same as before. I still don’t see what all the fuss is about with Fuente cigars. For those of you that swear by this brand, pick up a La Aurora, CAO Black or Pueblo Dominicano. Heck, come to our retail store, I’ll give you one of mine. Bring a friend. You’ll thank me later.