Arturo Fuente Hemingway Masterpiece Maduro

Drew Estate

Now here’s a cigar you’re not going to see reviewed very often. In addition to being a pretty hard smoke to come by, it’s size also makes it a schedule buster for most people. Especially when you smoke numerous cigars for a review like I do. But somehow I was able to squeeze in three of these terrifying towers of tobacco in time for this week’s cigar review.

These Fuente rarities were first produced in 1988, as a special extension of the Hemingway line. The shape was inspired by the “Fancy Tale” line of perfecto-shaped Cuban cigars made by Carlito’s grandfather in the 20’s and 30’s. Using those original perfecto cigar molds, the Fuentes initially made the Masterpiece’s smaller predecessor, the Signature vitola for personal consumption back in 1983. Due to the difficult nature of making these cigars, the production numbers for the Masterpiece Maduro are low, and batches of them are released very infrequently (as in years apart), often around the holidays. With Easter already past, and Father’s day a little way off, I was surprised to see these appear at my local brick and mortar. But I didn’t ask questions, I bought as many as I was allowed, thinking it’d make for a great review. Will it? We shall see.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 9 x 52
Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $14.50

The Pre-Smoke
Did I already mention the Masterpiece Maduro is huge? I guess that goes without saying. Even knowing how large tobacco can grow, it still amazes me that a single, spiraling leaf can cover this much real estate. But that darkly mottled, rustic Connecticut wrapper somehow does the trick. Looking the expanse of the cigars over, I did notice some minor imperfections on one stick, in the form of small holes. The veins, however, were fine and occasionally twisted, much like you see on Cuban cigars.

The wrapper had a very pungent compost aroma, and the cigars were firm, but not completely consistent in that regard. Each stick seemed to have a noticeably softer spot or two somewhere along its length. In spite of the tapered foot, I was able to test the cold draw with one of them, and it tasted like sweet cocoa.

The Burn
I was both impressed and surprised by the burn properties of the Masterpiece Maduro. Impressed, because of the generally even burn and the solidness of the ash, and surprised because it didn’t take the expected three hours to smoke it. Smoke after smoke, it clocked in right around two and a half hours. (Perhaps I should feel cheated, but I was actually pretty satisfied with the duration.) And then, of course, there was the accidental ash stand, shown here.

I did encounter some flaws, though. One cigar burned on a consistent angle and took a tad longer for the draw to open up than it probably should have. Another formed cracks just beyond the band that grew as I smoked. None of these problems turned out to be more than momentary nuisances, and didn’t have a lasting negative impact on the experience.

The Flavor
The initial third of the Masterpiece Maduro was considerably sweeter than what followed, offering up creamy coffee, cocoa and caramel flavors. The sweetness started to subside and a cedar element began to appear as this third comes to a close.

I started to pick up a little bit of spice and a decline in the creaminess in the profile as the second third began. The cocoa flavor gave way to a rich, occasionally earthy chocolate, and the cedar became more prominent as the cigar progressed.

Around the beginning of the final third, a little bit of pepper began to appear with the predominantly rich chocolate and cedar combination. A little way into this third, the creamy character from the beginning returned, and remained until the cigar came to a rest in the bottom of the ashtray.

The Price
As a Fuente rarity, the one thing you can count on is seeing them priced higher than MSRP. And I’m not talking about impact of state taxes either. If you’ve been smoking cigars long, you already know that any rare Fuente cigars are more likely to be marked up to ridiculous per-stick prices than just about anything else out there. Just a few minutes on Google will give you the opportunity to buy these for $30 apiece or even more. At those prices, I’ll pass. However, if you are able to find the Masterpiece Maduro for sale somewhat close to suggested retail, they’re worth picking up for a special occasion.

The Verdict
On it’s merits alone, the Masterpiece Maduro is a good long smoke with the rich flavors you expect from a maduro. While I enjoyed each one I smoked for this review, practical considerations such as its vitola size and burn duration, limited availability, and its tendency to be significantly marked up, will keep me from smoking them very often. That being said, I’ll keep one around for an occasion where I have a lot of time and am looking for some rich maduro goodness. (There’s a reason why these are popular at herfs.)

If you have the opportunity to buy one for a reasonable price, I recommend giving it a shot. Especially if you’ve never had one before. And when you do pick one up, be sure to give the cigar a fair shake. Light it up when you’re not pressed for time. You’ll be glad you waited.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes, but only when the price isn’t unreasonable
Recommend It: Yes

TowerSkyscraper of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark TowerSkyscraper of Burn.