As with any respected cigar brand in the world, Arturo Fuente isn’t one to shy away from its milestone anniversaries. And 2015 marked a particularly significant one—Carlos Fuente Sr.’s 80th birthday. To celebrate, Arturo Fuente released Carlos’ personal blend, as is customary from the most skilled members of this illustrious cigar family.
This, however, is not the cigar we’ll be reviewing. When the Fuente’s released the special Don Carlos Personal Reserve cigar late in 2015, they also shipped a similarly-titled blend that was rolled in their famous “Shark” vitola. This, the Don Carlos Eye of the Shark is a limited/seasonal release (it seems), which is priced more affordably and more readily available than Carlos Sr.’s more prestigious blend.
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Don Carlos Eye of the Shark Breakdown
- Wrapper: N/A
- Binder: N/A
- Filler: N/A
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia (Dominican Republic)
- Production: N/A
- Vitola: 5 ¾” x 52 “Shark” – box-pressed Piramide
- Price: $11.95 (MSRP) | $12 – $25 (actual)
The Shark vitola is best known for its use on the seasonal Arturo Fuente Añejo No. 77, for which the size got its name—Carlito Fuente determined the two sevens (No. 77) resembled a shark’s pectoral fins… Since the size’s debut in 2001, it has been used on occasion for special releases, such as the Fuente/Newman Toast Across America sampler—featuring J.C. Newman’s Diamond Crown Julius Caeser and Fuente’s OpusX in the famous vitola.
The vitola is one of the more unique and sought-after cigar shapes you’ll find, showcasing a Piramide/Belicoso, which has been box-pressed around the 2/3 mark. For the Don Carlos Eye of the Shark, Fuente has rolled the cigars in a slightly smaller “Shark” size, coming in at 5 ¾” x 52, as opposed to the standard 5 ⅞” x 64 of the Añejo No. 77.
This is easily one of the most attractive cigars to be released in 2015, or any year, for that matter. It uses the same basic design of the regular Don Carlos cigar, trading most of the reds for blacks and added gold embossing. The band extends downward further than the original Don Carlos, and the backside is curiously shy of wrapping the cigar’s full circumference, with a red ribbon being placed underneath (like when you underestimate the amount of wrapping paper you’ll need for a present and cut out a “filler” square to hide your mistake…).
The wrapper is very smooth, with tiny veins and invisible seams. The roll is semi-dense and feels solid, with a little springiness. On the nose there is leather, a little “Dominican funkiness”, and an unmistakable blast of cinnamon and maple syrup on the foot (very OpusX-like). All together, it’s clear why this is one of the most popular cigars in the craft scene as of late—a very impressive looking cigar.
A perfect draw and big smoke output kick off the Eye of the Shark. The cigar is about medium-bodied and shows a little less flavor than I’d anticipated. Initial flavors are of syrup, semi-sweet chocolate, and a little campfire smokiness.
The profile is subtle, which is fine, so long as there is a complexity under the hood… At about an inch in, I’m trying, with little avail, to uncover something more. The perfectly clean draw and abundant smoke output are enough to keep me puffing away though, with confidence the cigar will develop soon.
Creamy vanilla flavors are on the forefront and a nice fruitiness is there to back it up—this is the current mood of EOTS at around the halfway mark. The retrohale is very smooth, with a velvety texture and hardly a spicy note to be found. There is a little Cubanesque muskiness and added notes of raw, cut grass in the back of the palate—this didn’t really complement the rest of the profile very well, in my opinion.
Near the end, the flavors do change a bit. The finish picks up a ton of dark chocolate and the there are notes of buttered popcorn, anise, oily bacon, and a nice tanginess. The profile sounds pretty good, reading it back to myself, but it’s the balance of it all that seems thrown off. The finish drops off quick and the flavors never really connect at the right moments—I find myself taking double or triple puffs in an effort to find more flavor.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
Probably not. Well, to be more clear, I would not pay for this again—if someone handed me this cigar, I’d definitely smoke it. I’d recommend smoking EOTS in the evening with a nice Belgian beer. It’s a cigar I can’t tell you not to get, because it’s fun—just don’t blow your next month’s rent in an attempt to stock up on these.
- Spectacular look/feel
- Perfect draw
- Lots of smoke
- Lacks balance
- Unsatisfying finish
- Subtle flavors without complexity