I'm very excited to get back to my reviews with a very special stick tonight, a gift from my Uncle Jim who recently returned from a trip to Cuba. He gave me a couple of unmarked Cuban fumas (this term can refer to a few different things; a fuma may be a cigar of a perticular line which is set aside for quality control and tasting; it may be a cigar somebody rolls from their own supply of tobacco; it may be an overrun... basically, the term fuma can broadly refer to any unbanded and “unofficial” cigar), and with space running out in my travel humidors, I really need to smoke a bunch (or, more likely, give sticks away) so I have space for everything that's coming back to Hawaii with me. In any case, the idea of reviewing an unbanded fuma is wildly exciting to me, so here we go.
Cigar: Unknown Cuban Fuma
Vitola: Toro (~5” x 56)
Price: Free (gift)
Rating (out of 10): 8.5
Okay, this one is going to take a heavy, heavy beating in terms of points, because it has been sitting in a box, and the wrapper is heavily damaged. If it were an official product, like, say, a Camacho whatever, this would be one that I'd toss in the trash and take as a loss (especially if it was a Camacho Connecticut; I'll have to smoke one just to review it, but I am just not a fan of those). But this is one of those rare opportunities to smoke a “Cuban mystery,” and I'm not about to pass that up. So, tonight's review is quite a bit like “Who's Line Is It Anyway?” where “everything's made up, and the points don't matter.” I'm going to score it anyway, but I suppose you can just ignore it. I mean, how likely are you to come across this same smoke on your own, if I don't even know what it is, to tell you?
Despite the heavily damaged wrapper, it looks as though this cigar was, at one point, expertly crafted. This looks like the damage of a stick that's dried out, not of a stick that was poorly rolled. The filler seems to be evenly distributed, and I got a surprisingly decent (nearly perfect) cut with my wide-punch, so... let's do this.
I'm a little less congested today, so it's a bit easier to identify the aroma, which is rich and cedary, along with an earthy, hay-like quality at the foot.
Cold draw tastes of sweet hay and cashew; I can sense myself almost rushing, because I'm so anxious to try this thing. It's weird, how beautiful this thing is to me right now, when I would be so inclined to trash it if it had been banded.
First few draws give me a rich, coffee-and-cream profile. I think it's pretty likely this was probably a quality assurance or overrun fuma, but for which brand, I couldn't tell you. I am, however fairly confident it was not Cohiba (I've noticed that Cuban Cohibas tend to have very tight draws; this one, however, is nice and open).
Wonderful aroma from this thing, too. In the back of my mind, I had to remain open to the possibility that this was a counterfeit, knock-off cigar (yes, even in Cuba, this is a thing), but I've already dispelled any such possibility here. This thing tastes fantastic, and is expertly crafted. I'm sure the burn is going to have a lot of issues, but I don't even care.
About an inch or so down, I'm picking up a bit of pepper on the finish.
Moving into the second third is where we hit the most heavily-damaged part of this cigar. This is going to take some serious attention to keep up with, and, I expect, multiple touchups.
There is more of a cedar undertone behind the coffee flavor here. I don't want to suggest that Cuban cigars are inherently better than non-Cuban cigars; there are plenty of non-Cubans that I would reach for over a Cuban smoke in a heartbeat. But this much I will say: Cuban tobacco is definitely unique, and you know when you're smoking Cuban tobacco. There's just a smoothness to it that tells you right away where that leaf came from.
I've been looking up Cuban cigars that are roughly the same size and appearance of this thing, and it looks lie the closest thing I can find to this thing is the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill. This could easily not be that cigar in any way. Or, it might. Who knows? This thing is a fascinating and excitng little mystery. I love it.
I've now smoked past the most serious damage, and the cigar is still intact, still burning surprisingly evenly (maybe instead of “still,” I should say,”again”), and is still soft and creamy, with a consistent flavor of cream and coffee, with a hint of saltiness and is now showing subtle notes of sweet grass.
Into the last third, and this thing is just getting creamier and creamier. As the filler heats and expands, it's exposing another crack in the wrapper, but we're still in much better shape than in the second third.
I'm really loving this cigar, but the smoke output is intense... and with about an inch and a half left (normally, if I'm enjoying a cigar as much as I'm enjoying this one, I'd smoke it down to almost a half-inch nub), the smoke is going straight for my eyes. I want to keep smoking it, but it just might be that time...
I'll be honest, this thing fared a lot better than I expected it to, based on the extent of the damage I observed in the wrapper before smoking it. But it actually burned pretty evenly, overall, and needed far fewer touchups than I had anticipated. I was also pretty concerned about the stick wanting to come apart entirely as the filler heated and expanded, but it actually held together fantastically.
This experience has actually taught me a valuable lesson: youdon't have to toss a cigar just because it's pretty badly beaten up. If it's a high-quality, premium stick, then it's going to be pretty durable. It's not going to be perfect, by any means. But smoking isn't always about perfection and writing reviews. I think maybe instead of pushing myself to write reviews almost daily, what I should be doing is slowing down, reviewing every couple of days, and spending more time just enjoying a fine smoke. I'm not a professional; this site, these reviews... this is a hobby and a passion, not a job. I've been treating it as one, and it's caused additional and unnecessary stress when I can't get around to a review. Why do that to myself? The Fuentes have a marketing slogan: "We will never rush the hands of time." Cigars are not meant to be rushed; they're meant to be enjoyed. Along the same line, reviewing cigars should be a labor of love, not a chore. I wouldn't say I haven't been enjoying all the cigars I've reviewed recently; but I do think maybe it's time to slow down a bit, and stop treating a passion like a job.