Wrapper:  Undisclosed
Binder:  Undisclosed
Filler:  Undisclosed
Brand:  Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Series
Factory:  Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
Price Range:  $11-$14 (Secondary prices are much higher)
Availability:  Limited
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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

Tim Gladieux Profile@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.

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve First Third

 

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

Tim Gladieux Profile@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.

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve Second Third

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.

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve Wrapper Damaged from Band

Don Carlos Personal Reserve – Last Third

Cherry Cheesecake, Grape Nuts, Toast, Almond Extract, Spearmint, Licorice, Tart Fruit, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Tim Gladieux Profile@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.

Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve Last Third

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.

Don Carlos Personal Reserve Robusto Review
8.7 Reviewer
9.2 Cigar Noise Network (4 votes)
Pros

Complex Goodness

Excellent Burn

Great Draw

Cons

Weak First Third

Summary
Don Carlos Personal Reserve was beautifully constructed and it shows. While the first third had me wishing I reached for a Hemingway series, the second and last third really came together nicely. I'd like to see how this cigar performs in a couple years, but overall I think there are more enjoyable cigars available with easier access at more affordable prices.
Value
Burn
Draw
Flavor
Enjoyment
What Other Folks Are Saying: 4 Make some Noise
Great tasting & huge smoke production
Unlike the Eye of the Shark, I was able to pick this up at a pretty decent price. I avoided the price gouging that seems to be happening with many Fuente releases.

This thing produced a ton of smoke, I was amazed at its smoke production. I would say it was more than I get from Liga Privadas.

The draw was very open, too open for my liking. This hurt my enjoyment of the cigar. Luckily I have a couple more that I can try to see if its any better.

On the cold draw, I got an iced tea flavor. The flavor profile of this stick was very good and rather unique to me. Dave's description is much better than I can do.
January 23, 2016, 1:01 am
Value8.5
Burn9.5
Draw8
Flavor8.8
Enjoyment8.6
0
2
A hit in my book!
This cigar really surprised me, I have heard some mixed things about it going in to it that kind of had me really lowering my expectations. But thankfully by the end of cigar I was truly blown away.

The first third of the cigar was nice, at first I really didn't pick up much flavors nothing but a sweet tobacco which was constant through out but as the first third burned down I got a lot of flavors. Graham cracker, cinnamon, vanilla, sweet cedar notes a lot this cigar was really getting good.

In the second third the cinnamon turned into a more of a spicy pepper, a nice cream became present and the graham cracker was still staying strong. This was sort of reminding me of a s'mores minus the chocolate. Now heading into the final third I picked up a very distinct fruitiness that I couldn't exactly put a name to but it was really dominant.

The final third was nice, the most up front flavor overall was a very nice and sweet tobacco. As the final third burned down I started picking up more of the vanilla, the cream, and the graham cracker I had throughout. On the final third's retro hale I also got a very nice leather and cinnamon.

When I originally picked up the cigar and smoked it I wrote down a very detailed review and I plan on doing another since I was able to snag a couple more. I ended that review with 2 words, "Box worthy" now I will be honest I'm not the kind of guy that buys boxes so honestly this despite the mixed reviews is really one of my personal favorites. So take my review with a grain of salt.
January 21, 2016, 4:23 am
Value9
Burn10
Draw9.5
Flavor9.2
Enjoyment10
0
1
Fuente fanboy
Having had my first Fuente last friday, I've just dove into the fantastic brand and picked this stick up. Overall, an amazing stick and keeping a few to age in my humidor.
January 19, 2016, 1:04 am
Value9
Burn9.1
Draw8.7
Flavor9.5
Enjoyment9.4
0
0
Better than i exected
After smoking the Eye of the Shark and pretty much putting it in the trash, I didn't have hugh hopes for this. I am so glad it was alot better. Great balance and construction. Flavos were spot on and draw was great. Almost a perfect cigar.
January 8, 2016, 7:55 pm
Value8.9
Burn9.5
Draw9.4
Flavor9.4
Enjoyment9.5
0
3
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Dave West

Editor and Contributor at CigarNoise
Identifying as a Cigar Enthusiast more than an Aficionado, I enjoy trying new cigars and attempting to annotate my experience. Disclosure: As of June 2017, I began writing for SmallBatchCigar.com and will no longer be reviewing SBC exclusives
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