Saturday, June 20, 2015

Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 Gran Reserva Chateau Candela - Cigar Review

"Green cigars are latter-day oddities, but they once were the preferred smokes of Americans, so popular in the United States that cigars with candela wrappers became known as American Market Selection. (Natural cigars, the ones that make up the vast majority of today's cigar market, were dubbed English Market Selection.) From about 1958 to the early 1970s, Americans smoked billions of cigars, and nearly all of them were as green as your front lawn after a May rain. The popular tint was not a function of the use of underage leaf, however. It resulted from a unique process by which the wrapper tobacco was being cured." 
- David Savona for Cigar Aficionado*

Prelight: a cold tug tastes of herbs (or is the color messing with my sensibilities?) The floral note is definite. The wrap is fragile and care must be taken in the removal of the band. The pack is firm with a just a bit more forgiveness than a Texan judge.

The Cigar
Arturo Fuente
Gran Reserva Chateau
Candela Wrapper
Dominican long filler
Churchill size

Light: it is windy on my porch. I have wooden matches. The experience is effortless. The experience is a salty one.

1/3: The burn is even, if not on the quick side. The ash is packed tight. Is that... cardamom? The wrap continues to be delicate and dry. It cracks rather -- very -- noticeably. Happily, this does not interfere with its near-perfect burn. This stogie requires a calm, not-at-work-hand. It achieves this not due to a full body, but to a decidedly delicate one. This cigar is a dandy. Well into the first third, it becomes a rather sweet one, at that. This smoke is as clean and smooth as a newborn's tuchus. It's finish is pristine, and its saltiness goes beyond that, it purifies.

Remember, it's windy here on my porch, and the ash remains intact and stick straight. Salt is the key note and it is followed none too closely, but closely enough, by sweet floral undertones with a perfect hint of cardamom.

2/3: The crack in the wrapper extends ahead of the burn and stretches down through to the final third. as quiet as a souffle filled kitchen.

As this Fuente heats up, it mellows, but not to the point of boredom. All notes are still on board. The cardamom advances but does not threaten its supporting role. The crack has begun to affect the evenness of the burn, and a bulging appears around the fault line.

The finish is now sweet, but then carried off in nicely due time by saltiness. Fully warm, it remains comfy and clean.

The ash clumps off and lays on my porch almost un-bothered and almost two inches in length.

A mild enough smoke with which to saunter off with Ruby to a park bench, but I wouldn't dare risk this sensitive dandy's health. A second crack appears in the final third section, I shall smoke this again. I shall wear white gloves.

The buzz is pleasant. Still -- hold my calls. This cigar appreciates your utmost attention, of which it so deserves. The floral bits step up now, and I smile. Wickedly, for some reason. Perhaps due to an appreciation of my own strength in thus far protecting my fair Fuente maiden.

A maiden with balls. Salty balls, as a forest-smelling earthiness takes hold. A bite of sour peeks in like a sip of white wine.

(Remembering a Golden Girls episode, wherein Dorothy and the girls celebrate with Champagne. Rose points out the price tag, and it is far beyond their collective means. The ever-wise Sophia douses it with table salt and calls over the maitre d' in a huff...the meal is immediately comp'd.)

I'd pay extra, for this salt.

The second crack bulges like an excited transsexual. The jig is up! Please don't tell my Rabbi -- although my congregation is Reconstructionist, and chances are good that it is circumcised.

This is a very excited and exciting ride, albeit mellow and now slower burning...

3/3: I flick the ash off and a decent chew sets in. I pull my shoulders down away from my ears and slump into my chair. Sigh. The chew is delicate and firm. A cardamom sun begins to set in a sweet and salty sky.

There never was a taste of grass I was warned about, and steeled myself against. The two surprises are a saltiness I delighted in and a smoke given off that was quite...feminine.

A loosely fitting dress with a vague floral pattern. It covered a salt-of-the-earth body -- perhaps it ripped on its own accord, perhaps my Hyde subconsciously go the best of me? Either way, there were no complaints. Lest the fact I wish it had lasted longer.

As if it hears me, it suddenly needs re-lit. My hands are rough as I hold a fire to it, but I am no poet. I will say that I sat with it a long while, before relighting. Then welcomed back with some black pepper notes that neither one of us believe, which are quickly chased away by a heavier floral pull. It mellows back...

and all the way


Final Grade: A-. Nuff. More? A, sans cracking, but even there, there was a sort of charm.

Pairings: I chose water, a rarity for me. Chamomile tea would be good, also. White wine would be too on-the-nose.



This cigar felt like a torrid affair. I fumbled for my phone to text my wife, "I love you." I couldn't, at first, recall her name or number...