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AF Don Carlos Vs Opus X, then vs now

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So all that follows is JMHO (AKA nonsense) Ill start by saying my opus experience dates to late 90's (via smokes from 2009-ish) and all others referenced begin in 2008 with a few pre-dated due to acquisitions or post-date to whenever released.

Best Fresh:
1. Don Carlos Edicion limitada
2. Anejo
3. Don Carlos
4. Opus X

Best 3-5 years:
1. Don carlos Edicion limitada
2. Anejo
3. Opus X
4. Don Carlos

Best over 5 years:
1. Anejo
2. Opus X
3. Don Carlos Edicion limitada
4. Don Carlos

I'm not a huge fan of the broad generalization that NC don't need age, or that Cubans are always better aged. I find that we as consumers and judges of cigars get stuck in certain ideas from limited experience and then use it to judge everything else. Cuban cigar have whole years and sometimes multiple years that are known to be less quality or to a lesser standard. We use this to guide purchasing decisions but the consistently among NC's isn't matched ( I say this as someone that has collected and consumed many NC's and ISOM cigars).

To Fuente specifically, they have terrible glue issues, and the bands rarely come off clean. Hemmingways burn "wonky" and most times there cigars are double MRSP. But flavorwise they hit a particular veins that a lot of people lean into due to clout, or preference.

Opus X over that last 20-25 years (limited here to late 90's so just barely make the cut-off) to me at least, has been consistent with the understanding that you sit them down. Back when they where hitting there stride Opus was the top of what Fuente produced. BUT that was only toward the late 90's. First crop sown 1992, and release 1995. Carlito was using as an experiment to showcase Dominican wrappers and with Don Carlos helming the ship I doubt the first time around he said, "use our most prized tobacco for your secret experiment". But after the initial release and CA articles I'm sure it brought it to the forefront over the next few years. Prior to that, the Don Carlos was the highest end regular production cigar they had, see where I'm going with this.... Boost ahead 20 years plus and now the regular release Opus is in a sea of limited but consistent stream of Opus lines (Oro, Angels Share, Destino, Forbidden, Dubai, CCF, Holts, Casa, Lost City, 20th, GOF, Elle Bleu, Prometheus) with each release pushing the crop further and further than before. The lost tobacco in 12' was either for the Angels share specifically or the 100th anniversary of Fuente depending on which Carlito interview you believe. To me it just pushed fresh tobacco out into the mix, and after 10 years I find it hard to imagine that they are still losing sleep over it.

To me the Don carlos ages like a "normal cigar". Smoothing of edges, refinement and melding of flavor, and overall cohesiveness. Ive also seen a drop off in the 5-10 year depending on how they are stored of the flavor. Not negatively, but maybe from the "blenders intent"; loss of spice, or maybe some slightly bitterness that balanced the equation initially. Opus on the other hand doesn't really become Opus until 3-5 years. Its a strong ass cigar that maybe in years past was aged more prior to release and takes time to become balanced. That being said if you like AF and you aren't smoking or aging Anejo or Don carlos EL you may be missing out on the best they have to offer JMHO.

I've also never associated heavy richness to the Opus, may be present but to me was always more dark dried fruits, spice, leather, with heavy cedar and sweetness that ebbed and flowed depending on the age. That being said regarding the amount of "high value" smokes produced, consistently over time, issues with production, and every other factor against creating and maintain great cigars I would say AF is one of a few that seem to hit that nail on the head nearly every damn time and my wallet pays the price.

Sorry for the novel, hopefully it wasn't a waste of a read, I tried to tie it up so may have missed a point or two. as always means nothing, just my word vomit.
Awesome info. Didn't even know DC had an EL. Glad to see that Opus and Don Carlos do well with a bit of age. I can't always smoke that fast and getting decent Fuentes overseas is a nightmare.

I always really wanted to like the OpusX, especially when I first started to find places in the mid to late 90s where I could actually score a few sticks. There I was, friends with the salesmen of one of the best tobacco shops, having on display a few boxes of OpusX, with a sign "2 stick limit" for regular customers and you must buy something else. Individually wrapped in celo with gold lettering. The prize in the humidor. They were decent, but not spectacular for me.

So now there are all these variations of both DC and Opus, diluting their own lines, not sure if I agree with that, but hey, I'm no Cigar manufacturer.
 
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The El is a great smoke, to be fair it replaces the Cameroon wrapper with a domincican so its more like an Opus than a DC, but its a great smoke. Like I said some people smoke them for the clout and its hard to get more than the "limit" (nice to see its been in place from the get go back in the 90's). People forget they are 10-20$ cigars. Its hard to say that cigars over than 30$ are worth it (with exceptions of course), but for the MSRP they are great smokes. IMHO a 10$ DC vs a 14$ Opus if they have time to sit its a no brainer. But a 10$ DC that can be bought anytime vs a 30$ overpriced fresh Opus... il be smoking a nice DC (y)
 
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The El is a great smoke, to be fair it replaces the Cameroon wrapper with a domincican so its more like an Opus than a DC, but its a great smoke. Like I said some people smoke them for the clout and its hard to get more than the "limit" (nice to see its been in place from the get go back in the 90's). People forget they are 10-20$ cigars. Its hard to say that cigars over than 30$ are worth it (with exceptions of course), but for the MSRP they are great smokes. IMHO a 10$ DC vs a 14$ Opus if they have time to sit its a no brainer. But a 10$ DC that can be bought anytime vs a 30$ overpriced fresh Opus... il be smoking a nice DC (y)
I agree, it's nearly impossible to find Opus at MSRP these days. But the rich cool kids seem very willing to pay the highly inflated prices. Used to be Fuente supposedly had a rule that Fuente accounts who jacked up Opus prices would get their accounts suspended. Apparently they no longer have that policy. Actual Opus MSRP isn't that bad.
 

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Derek | BoM June 2014
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Opus and Don Carlos are both cigars that benefit from downtime. IMHO Opus needs much more time, it’s actually a pretty strong, rough cigar initially and needs years to mature. The Don Carlos benefits less from age, but does benefit from rest. Like many NC, I think the Don Carlos loses some little bit of sparkle after 5 years. Opus (and for what it’s worth, many Cubans) also lose some sparkle in the same timeframe, though some refinement and other notes get picked up along the way.

To be honest, I generally prefer Don Carlos, though I suspect it’s partially because they’re usually half the price of the cheapest Opus in the same humidor, and I have a really hard time enjoying a $30 cigar.

I don’t really find either worth the asking price. When I can find Don Carlos at MSRP, I will get a few, but that’s about it.
 
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So all that follows is JMHO (AKA nonsense) Ill start by saying my opus experience dates to late 90's (via smokes from 2009-ish) and all others referenced begin in 2008 with a few pre-dated due to acquisitions or post-date to whenever released.

Best Fresh:
1. Don Carlos Edicion limitada
2. Anejo
3. Don Carlos
4. Opus X

Best 3-5 years:
1. Don carlos Edicion limitada
2. Anejo
3. Opus X
4. Don Carlos

Best over 5 years:
1. Anejo
2. Opus X
3. Don Carlos Edicion limitada
4. Don Carlos

I'm not a huge fan of the broad generalization that NC don't need age, or that Cubans are always better aged. I find that we as consumers and judges of cigars get stuck in certain ideas from limited experience and then use it to judge everything else. Cuban cigar have whole years and sometimes multiple years that are known to be less quality or to a lesser standard. We use this to guide purchasing decisions but the consistently among NC's isn't matched ( I say this as someone that has collected and consumed many NC's and ISOM cigars).

To Fuente specifically, they have terrible glue issues, and the bands rarely come off clean. Hemmingways burn "wonky" and most times there cigars are double MRSP. But flavorwise they hit a particular veins that a lot of people lean into due to clout, or preference.

Opus X over that last 20-25 years (limited here to late 90's so just barely make the cut-off) to me at least, has been consistent with the understanding that you sit them down. Back when they where hitting there stride Opus was the top of what Fuente produced. BUT that was only toward the late 90's. First crop sown 1992, and release 1995. Carlito was using as an experiment to showcase Dominican wrappers and with Don Carlos helming the ship I doubt the first time around he said, "use our most prized tobacco for your secret experiment". But after the initial release and CA articles I'm sure it brought it to the forefront over the next few years. Prior to that, the Don Carlos was the highest end regular production cigar they had, see where I'm going with this.... Boost ahead 20 years plus and now the regular release Opus is in a sea of limited but consistent stream of Opus lines (Oro, Angels Share, Destino, Forbidden, Dubai, CCF, Holts, Casa, Lost City, 20th, GOF, Elle Bleu, Prometheus) with each release pushing the crop further and further than before. The lost tobacco in 12' was either for the Angels share specifically or the 100th anniversary of Fuente depending on which Carlito interview you believe. To me it just pushed fresh tobacco out into the mix, and after 10 years I find it hard to imagine that they are still losing sleep over it.

To me the Don carlos ages like a "normal cigar". Smoothing of edges, refinement and melding of flavor, and overall cohesiveness. Ive also seen a drop off in the 5-10 year depending on how they are stored of the flavor. Not negatively, but maybe from the "blenders intent"; loss of spice, or maybe some slightly bitterness that balanced the equation initially. Opus on the other hand doesn't really become Opus until 3-5 years. Its a strong ass cigar that maybe in years past was aged more prior to release and takes time to become balanced. That being said if you like AF and you aren't smoking or aging Anejo or Don carlos EL you may be missing out on the best they have to offer JMHO.

I've also never associated heavy richness to the Opus, may be present but to me was always more dark dried fruits, spice, leather, with heavy cedar and sweetness that ebbed and flowed depending on the age. That being said regarding the amount of "high value" smokes produced, consistently over time, issues with production, and every other factor against creating and maintain great cigars I would say AF is one of a few that seem to hit that nail on the head nearly every damn time and my wallet pays the price.

Sorry for the novel, hopefully it wasn't a waste of a read, I tried to tie it up so may have missed a point or two. as always means nothing, just my word vomit.
Thanks for that detailed response. That was actually pretty educational and helpful.
 
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