Fuente‘s tagline is that they will “never rush the hands of time” when it comes to cigars — if the cigar is ready, it will be sent out to the market, if its not, then it won’t be. Perhaps with their Don Carlos range of cigars, they overdid this tagline a bit.

The first batch of Don Carlos, made from Dominican Republic filler and binder and lush, reddish Cameroon wrapper, was launched in 1993-94. The tobacco that went into those cigars came from Fuente’s 1984 crop. Aged for 10 years, the tobacco had a lot of time of mellow and develope into a very rich tasting leaf. The Don Carlos robusto i sampled came from this lineage, although i’m not sure whether they still use 10-year old tobacco.

Nice, even burn

The visual test was excellent. Very nice under the fingers, it had a good heft to it. Not too light, quite solid with a very oily wrapper that was almost veinless. The reddish hue that is the hallmark of many Cameroon wrappers was unexpectedly pleasing — most cigars are just the boring natural, dark natural or maduro shades. It was almost refreshing to see something with a bit more colour.

Well constructed. Holds its ash well

Before lighting it, i ran it under my nose to savour its natural, unlit aromas. Quite delectable; very subtle floral scents mixed with a touch of woodiness and spice that i found quite pleasing. This was going to be an interesting cigar, i reckoned.

Still holding on!!

And still!!!!

Lighting it took a moment longer than normal; the tobacco refused to light evenly and it was a few minutes before i was satisfied with its lighting. The draw was simple and straightforward — almost effortless, though it stopped short of being loose. Hate loose drawing cigars. This was ok. I sat back, concentrating on the flavours coming through the thick, grey smoke. Initial flavours were quite dark and mellow; thick tobacco tastes came pouring through and for a moment i thought this cigar was much more full bodied than was advertised. But that initial rush actually only lasted a few minutes. After the first inch, it backed off considerably, leaving woody, bitter-sweet chocolate flavours that blended well with the thick English tea i was having. A little bit of spice came through in the last third, but it was negligible, and i thought that it ended quite mildly with a very short finish.

Even and firm all the way, even at the end

Good to the nub!

Verdict: A good cigar in most respects. Does everything in every department well without being overtly excellent in any. Nice, easy smoke, good thick tobacco flavours that remain smooth and mellow throughout. Looking for a cigar that can’t really do any wrong? This is it. Only problem is that price makes it an uncompetitive option — about the same price as the excellent Vegas Robaina Famosos or the HDM Epicure #2. Even then, i’m sure the Don Carlos has its fans, and there are many good reasons for it.