Sunday, March 09, 2008

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Maduro
Size: 6.00 x 47
Tobacco: Dominican Republic
Price: $14.00

This weekend, my friend Shaun and I sampled two Hemingway Signature Maduros.

The Hemingway line, named after the famous American author, probably needs no introduction to most cigar enthusiasts. It was Arturo Fuente's first limited edition extension to their regular Gran Reserva line. They are made with tobacco aged four years and rolled only by experts who are limited to a production quantity of 75 cigars per day. Each cigar is rolled in a perfecto shape. Hemingways can be notoriously difficult to find, and many local B&Ms, especially here in Memphis, limit the number that can be purchased.

The maduro version of the Hemingway is even rarer than the Cameroon. In fact, while the cameroons can usually be found under $10, the maduros sell for considerably more. Most online sites don't even carry them. I got mine from CigarsDirect, a good site for superpremium smokes.

Appearance: Our cigars sported toothy wrappers a deep shade of coffee-brown. The wrapper felt thick to the fingers, and mine was unblemished except for a single vein on the underside that ran from the cap all the way to the foot. The aroma was mild, but the pre-light taste was unmistakably maduro. It was not the flavor of young maduro (like a Partagas Black or a Montecruz Negro), but was balanced and nuanced.

First impressions: Like the cameroon version of this cigar, the immediate taste upon lighting was mild and sweetish. I remembered the cameroon increased in complexity as it burned, picking up spice and pepper, and gradually turned into a full-bodied experience. I expected the same flavor profile here, too. Unlike the cameroon, I tasted distinct notes of nuts and coffee.

Overall experience: What can I say? Flawless construction. A razor straight burn that never varied for an hour. It held an inch-long white ash that never flaked or fell. The draw was perfect for this size ring guage. I was disappointed, however, that the cigar never built any spice or pepper. It remained rather one-dimensional (dare I say it, bland?), medium in taste and body. The potential of those balanced, nuanced pre-light flavors never materialized. I had a slight nicotine rush when I stood up at the end, indicating this cigar managed to be potent without being full-flavored.

On the C&S (Craig & Shaun) 10-Leaf scale, we awarded this cigar 6 Leaves out of 10. If you are a big fan of maduros, you owe it to yourself to give this smoke a try, just to experience its expert craftsmanship. But if you prefer a full spicy taste, then you would fare better with the Hemingway Cameroon or the Fuente Sungrown.

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