Up for review today is an Arturo Fuente 858 Sungrown. It's one of the harder to find 858's, and it was gifted to me by HopperB (Thanks Bill!).
The 858 is a staple of the Fuente line, they are a very budget-minded smoke that offers exceptional flavors and a multitude of different wrappers to suit every profile. As far as I know, they have been produced in a maduro, claro/candela, rosado, sungrown and natural/cameroon.
The Sun Grown wrapper is beautiful, there are very few veins and no noticeable tooth. The tobacco is very well packed, there are no soft or dimpled spots to be found when it is rolled through the hand. The cedar sleeve and black ribbon on the foot are a nice touch. At first glance, you could easily mistake the wrapper as a maduro, it is quite dark although not very oily. Punched (first time I've used a punch) and lit with Xikar single flame.
First 1/3: Starts off like most Sungrown-wrapped cigars I've smoked- very peppery/spicey. The best relation I could think of was to a a 601 Blue maduro. As it progresses, it loses the spice and becomes a bit more sweet. The burn is pretty good, but not excellent. The draw is fantastic, I'm really liking the punch cut. Smoke production is a bit above average, it's no Liga Privada, but it's quite acceptable. The ash is quite flakey where the wrapper burned, but holds on for about an inch before falling.
2/3: The spice has taken the backstage by now, and the sweetness has progressed to a very noticeable difference then when first lit. I really am enjoying it now, the flavor, while hard to describe, is very unique. I've never had a stick that tastes quite similiar to it; although I have only smoked a couple sun-grown wrapped cigars. The ash is still flakey, the burn is solid, not razor straight, but never wanders too far, and the smoke output has picked up a bit as well.
Final third: As the final third approaches, it goes out when I put it down to go grab a sweet tea and use the bathroom. I purge and re-light and as the burn cools down, I am greeted with a very distinct heavy-cream flavor. No sweetness, no pepper, no spice, just very very smooth cream. It remains this way until it becomes a bit bitter with about 1/8 left, which I am assuming is due to it going out earlier. I put it down at that point. The burn improved sine the first 1/3, it was almost perfectly straight all-around.
Overall: The 858 Sungrown is a great cigar. It has a pretty good burn, great smoke production and very unique flavors. I was a big fan of it, and wish I could get more, especially at the 6-8 dollar price that they tend to go for. The body was a solid medium the entire way through, so it's not going to knock your socks off, but it will provide a moderate nicotine buzz for most smokers. It's not an extremely complex cigar, nor does it change flavors often, but the flavors that were presented never bored me. Thanks once again Bill, this was a great smoke all around.