Cigar Aficionado

An Old Favorite with a New Twist

I’ve said many times that one of my favorite cigars is the Don Carlos line from the A. Fuente family, especially the No. 3, a beautiful, little corona. Every time I see Carlos Fuente Sr., I tell him how I am still savoring a few of the No. 3s that he gave me nearly 15 years ago. They occupy the same hallowed status in my humidor along with some 1986 Cuban Davidoff Especiale No. 2s and some Fuente Fuente OpusX As from 1995. Those cigars are simply beyond description, like a 1961 Bordeaux First Growth or a great 1969 red Burgundy.

So I’ll be honest. I was a little skeptical when Dave Savona gave me a Double Robusto Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario 2007, a 52 ring by 5 3/4 inch cigar that contains elements of the basic Don Carlos blend. It has a wrapper from the Chateau de la Fuente, the leaf that is used on the Fuente Fuente OpusX line. It’s not that I am becoming conservative in my middle age, but I was wondering why they are messing around with what is already a great cigar. It had been sitting in my office humidor for a couple of weeks, and I kept thinking, well, I’ll just wait awhile before I smoke it. Today, I had caught up with all the tasting cigars for the next issue, and after a couple of less-than-stellar smokes, I wanted something special. I figured now was the time.

Wow. From the first puff, I was overwhelmed with the complexity of the cigar. It had that subtle sweetness that I always find alluring in the Don Carlos line, but it had that overlay of pepper spice and leather that I frequently taste in the FFOX cigars. It doesn’t quite have the power of a regular FFOX cigar, but the balance is extraordinary, and there is an earthy, leathery note that lingers on the finish. I wasn’t tasting blind, but I can tell that it would be a cigar that would approach our Classic category, or 95 points.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. Cigarmakers today are always experimenting and trying out new combinations, looking for new taste sensations. And, they are even willing to experiment with some of their best cigars. When they work like this Don Carlos, it’s a home run.

We are all lucky to be cigar smokers today.

"All too often when excelling in a chosen field, it is easier (and perhaps tempting) to rest on your laurels - which in the case of the Fuente Family are extensive and well deserved. However with todays consumers sporting increasingly educated and demanding palates, cigar makers must definitely "push the envelope" more than ever by experimenting with bold new blends, and even tinkering with proven winners. Yet I believe this is smething the cigar makers (or artists, as I think of them) would always be driven to do, because of their innate creative curiosity and desire to produce the best cigars possible. I agree with your statement on another blog that this is indeed a golden age for cigars, and I stand ready to reap the rewards! Gentlemen, start your engines! " —July 24, 2008 10:56 AM
"Holy Smokes! (pun intended) At ~$40 a pop these SHOULD knock your socks off ;-). I'll just have to enjoy this cigar vicariously through your description. Thanks, Gordon." —June 12, 2008 12:51 PM