The Fuente Fuente Opus X
Since the onset of the trade embargo, Cuban cigars seem to have gained mystical properties; they are the unicorn of the American cigar world. Aficionados are always searching for them—to smoke a genuine Cuban is seen as a real treat. However, it is not a Cuban cigar that is considered the most sought after, and it is not a Hoyo de Monterrey or a Partagas D that is on every smoker’s wish list. Instead, it is a cigar that was first created in 1995 in the Dominican Republic, a cigar that revolutionized the industry and set it on its current path of boutique styles, limited editions, and powerful profiles. That cigar is the Fuente Fuente Opus X, created by cigar superstars Carlos and Carlito Fuente.
The Fuente family had already established itself as a trendsetter by the early ’90s, with its Hemingway line, featuring an unusual perfecto shape, already firmly set in the pantheon of cigar greats. It was then that Carlito decided to take on a monumental project, one that would put Fuente cigars at the forefront of the premium-cigar industry. For years, industry experts held the belief that it would be impossible to grow wrapper leaf in the Dominican Republic, positing that the climate and soil simply did not allow for the difficult process of growing the fragile tobacco. The Fuentes set out to prove them wrong and after years of trial and error in perfecting the science behind the wrapper, their labor began to bear fruit.
The first Opus X arrived in the fall of 1995. It was a beautifully oily work of art created of 100% Dominican tobacco, including the newly grown Dominican rosado wrapper. It was powerful yet smooth, with a craftsmanship few cigarmakers were able to mimic. It became an immediate success due to its flavor profile, its construction, and its availability. To this day, it is difficult for smokers to get their hands on an Opus as they are near impossible to find at small local shops, and for good reason: to keep the construction as close to perfect as possible, the Fuente family does not mass produce this cigar; only true aficionados had tried it, and only they knew where they could get one.
This cigar has gone on to be one of the most awarded and beloved cigars in history. Since the creation of Cigar Aficionado’s top-25 list in 2004, the Opus X has earned a place eight times—always within the top 10 and never with less than a 90 rating—and won the number-one position in 2005. For 20 years, this cigar has reigned supreme over all others.
The fame of the Opus X has even reached Hollywood. While shooting his movie The Lost City, actor and cigar aficionado Andy Garcia asked permission to film at the Fuente fields in the Dominican Republic. Though filming took place during the off-season with no full-grown leaves to show, Carlito managed to make it work by growing 15 acres of tobacco, which was harvested after filming, aged, and released as the special edition we now know as the Opus X Lost City. And if you thought the regular Opus X was limited, Lost City is sure to be seen as a myth. Only choice retailers are allowed to carry it, and even they find it hard to come by.
The Opus X was one of the first commercially successful full-bodied cigars introduced to the American market, and its limited releases, special editions, and profile have set the tone for how the industry works today. Opus X also was responsible for bringing Dominican tobaccos to the forefront; for the first time since the embargo’s start, true aficionados had something comparable to Cuban cigars in terms of taste, quality, and, oddly enough, availability, as the cigar’s limited accessibility made it all the more desired, resulting in the Fuente Fuente Opus X earning the title of the cigar world’s most loved offering.