The Carlos Fuente Personal Reserve robusto is supposedly the personal blend of current patriarch Carlos Sr.—a blend that is tweaked and changed slightly from time to time. Its conventional 5x50 format and relatively low MSRP of $13 make it more collectible than smokeable. In theory. That’s because, as is often the case, retailers price gouge and we paid $18.95 for our samples. Guess we didn’t get ripped off too badly, because we’ve seen these as high as $30 apiece. You have to credit Fuente, though. They could be charging much higher prices and pocketing all that extra profit themselves. Instead, they leave it to the marketplace and let their B&M retailers—who work hard to stay afloat—to enjoy the extra margin.
Problem is, the cigar is barely worth MSRP, let alone a penny of additional markup.
That’s due in part to it being unremarkable, but also in comparison with Fuente’s bread and butter lines, most of which cost way less. Now, none of those come with a pair of white gloves for special handling of the cigars. But then again, if that kind of flourish really matters to you, just buy a pair separately along with a box of 858s and you’re ahead of the game by at least $120 or so.
Much like our much beloved Don Carlos cigars, these start slow and take a bit of time to warm up. Unlike the Don Carlos, these lack that appealing nuttiness that Cameroon wrapper generally brings to the table. The binder and filler blend seem on the stout side, perhaps too stout, overwhelming the wrapper’s character. Or is it vice versa, and is the wrapper tamping down the flavor?
We might sum these up by calling them an Opus X Lite. Leather is the primary favor, but it’s not the in-your-face kind you get with Opus. Rather, it’s lingering and savory with a nice meatiness and distant gaminess. It does indeed seem like well-aged tobaccos are used here. There was also a roasted root vegetable thing going in the background along with some subtle spice and woodiness/creaminess. However, what sweetness there was presented as waxy and papery, kind of like licking the wrapper from a saltwater taffy.
So, while hardly a bad cigar—it is in fact well above average and at times quite interesting and enjoyable—the Fuente Don Carlos Personal Reserve Robusto just doesn’t rise to the level of its MSRP, let alone any exorbitant markup. Unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Fuente fanatic, buy a Don Carlos Double Robusto instead. You can't go wrong.
B: Dominican Republic
F: Dominican Republic
$13 ($18.95 street price)
Light in the hand. Slow to start. Develops a savory, leathery, meatiness but with waxy sweet notes on the finish. Retailer markups make it a very poor value.