Brand: Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Series
Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
Price Range: $11-$14 (Secondary prices are much higher)
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Today we’re finally looking at the Don Carlos Personal Reserve in a Robusto size. I’ve been itching to burn it, but with the holidays I couldn’t find a few hours to spare for a review worthy of your time.
Going into this review, I have zero expectations other than my love for the Eye of the Shark and the traditional Don Carlos blend. Fuente and Cameroon wrappers are a home run in my book.
About the only information I could find on this cigar came from Anthony’s here. I sent an email asking for more information on 28 Dec, but have yet to receive anything. No biggie.
A few weeks ago, @frenchmade and I were discussing this cigar and he sent me his tasting notes. They’re including with each third.
Don Carlos Personal Reserve – First Thoughts
Passing it over to the pregnant Domestic Engineer for a sniff test, she says, “Eww. Smells like a barn.” Now that I’m out here on the porch, I’m getting lots of sweet hay and tobacco notes mingling with an oak and cedar aroma from the foot. The wrapper itself I’m having issues with, sinuses aren’t being friendly today. Very light and pleasant.
The wrapper has little dark-green splotches on it in places. A pre-light draw is very sweet. While the bands are stuck on there pretty good, there aren’t any signs of the traditional slathering of glue covering the wrapper itself.
This particular cigar has been in my humidor for 5 weeks at 65% humidity. Opting for a straight cut.
Don Carlos Personal Reserve – First Third
Oak, Bland, Peppercorn, Italian Leather, French Bread, Caramel, Graham Cracker, Toast
@frenchmade tasting notes: “Faint white pepper on the retrohale. Picking up very faint flavor of a specific note. Hot coca with whipped cream. That’s a first!”
The very first few puffs are of oak. Deep, deep oak. There isn’t a hint of spice anywhere in this blend so far, and it’s silky smooth. Oddly enough, the oak within a couple minutes becomes bland and I’m left with absolutely nothing to taste.
Remember how gentle it was in the very beginning? Now a little heat creeps up in the retrohale, and I’m tasting peppercorn on the finish. A lingering after taste of peppersteak coats my palette. Very interesting.
I’ve gotta say, so far this Don Carlos Personal Reserve is nothing like any other Don Carlos I’ve smoked. At about an inch in, I think I would prefer the usual Don Carlos over this blend. It’s lacking depth of character. So far, a beautiful white ash and immaculate burn line are the most enjoyable part of this cigar. And, upon further inspection of the Don Carlos Personal Reserve wrapper (while admiring the burn) I find some Fuente Glue on the back, about 1/4 inch below the band. Damn.
A swig of coffee reveals some interesting leather notes. Let’s call it Italian Leather to make it fancier.
Zaya Rum… you know the deal! Zaya to this cigar is like seeing the world with glasses for the first time. Seriously. Let’s do it again.
Cream, fresh bread (French Bread – of course), caramel, and graham cracker. Wow. I need to start doing reviews in the evening more, this rum pairing makes me glad I snagged one of these in a sampler from Small Batch when grabbing an Eye of the Shark.
Just dumped out my coffee and replacing it with Zaya. Please forgive me, it’s the only way to go with this cigar. Now a really pleasant toast is screaming at me – with a sweet finish.
Don Carlos Personal Reserve – Second Third
Honeysuckle, Vanilla, Dry Red Wine, Citrus
@frenchmade Tasting Notes: “Body has picked up. Distinctive mouthfeel of dried plums??? Retrohale is now producing raisins. I’ve only picked this note up on the God of Fire serie B.”
Tap the ash, take a draw: honeysuckle! Fantastic. The only time I got this much honeysuckle out of a cigar was the El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme a couple weeks ago. No spice whatsoever, this cigar is a perfect compliment to the weekend. Got Zaya?
I’m getting a soft, creamy vanilla now at the halfway point. It’s like vanilla ice cream. Just a really pleasant cigar in the second third with this pairing.
Still looking for dried plums, think I may have found it just before the last band needs to come off. There’s a dry (as in wine terms) fruitiness beginning to pick up, but to my palette I would consider it more of a Pinot Noir. And, there’s a citrus note building that I can’t quite place just yet. Feels like lemon on the tongue.
*The wrapper was damaged while removing the band as the glue was on there pretty good. The burn line has been consistently even with a razor sharp combustion line throughout. No touchups have been necessary.
Don Carlos Personal Reserve – Last Third
Cherry Cheesecake, Grape Nuts, Toast, Almond Extract, Spearmint, Licorice, Tart Fruit, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
@frenchmade tasting notes: “Final third is producing tart dried plum flavors and faint white pepper on the retro. Damn. What a smoke.”
I always tap the ash when entering another segment of the cigar, and it really does make a difference. Cherries immediately come to the foreground amidst a graham cracker background. Cream is returning, and I’ll be damned if this isn’t like smoking a subtle Cherry Cheesecake!
After a few moments, the graham cracker becomes nutty – like Grape Nuts cereal sprinkled with berries. Just delicious. Really glad I pulled the trigger on this cigar today for #FuenteFriday. Even happier that I brought Rum out of the dugout.
With about two inches left, I shit you not… Spearmint. Was just about to right how the fruit has left us and has been replaced with toast and almond extract. And then bam! Spearmint on the finish for a couple puffs. Brief, yet welcomed. A licorice note is stands out in the aftertaste. This is so strange.
Had to give it my first touch-up, probably because of the wrapper being torn. Couple minutes later and a tart fruit definitely lingers on the palette. Dried plums? Probably.
I’m also picking up homemade toasted pumpkin seeds with about an inch left. Doesn’t surprise me with all the changes in this cigar so far. It really has been an interesting cigar to review – not my favorite by a long shot, and I probably won’t seek more out, but from an analytical standpoint this cigar is a mind game.
Weak First Third
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