7 1/2x41 "Phantom"
There isn't a whole lot of information out there about the Don Carlos Lancero (or "Phantom" as the Fuentes call their lanceros). The fact of the matter is, the Don Carlos Lance is one of those cigars that the Fuentes seem to produce intermittently, to hand out at events, as part of special humidor releases, and occasionally to sell at Casa Fuente in Las Vegas. Regardless, the consensus seems to be that these are just the regular Don Carlos blend, adapted to the lancero vitola. Carlito has said that the lancero is the "best cigar [he] makes", meaning the vitola in general across the several lines it is available in. As for the blend, again not a whole lot of information, other than Dominican tobacco, with a Cameroon wrapper. Cameroon tends to be a kind of ugly wrapper, but the Don Carlos line seems to get some of the better Cameroon the Fuentes source, so that probably won't be an issue here. Other than that, they tend to be secretive about actual blend information.
The Don Carlos Lancero comes wrapped in a cedar sleeve with a black band on the foot, a combination usually denoting a sungrown wrapper, which is not the case here. Removing the cedar sleeve reveals a really consistently colored, milk chocolate brown wrapper, with tight seams, and very small veins. The head features a flag tailed triple cap, which does not appear to have any of the excess glue that sometimes comes with Fuente cigars. The band is the new black bottomed design, used on current production Hemingways, Don Carlos, and Sungrown cigars. The cigar is fairly firm to the touch, pretty tightly packed. The aroma off the body of the cigar is a really distinct nutmeg and sweet cedar (cedar from the piece of wood it was wrapped in, no doubt). The foot offers a creamy coffee and nutmeg combination. Clipping the cap opens a snug draw that offers sweet cinnamon and raisin flavors, along with a little milky coffee.
Lit at 4:21pm
Right away the DC Lancero bombards the palate with a combination of toasted almonds and dessert spices (cinnamon and nutmeg especially, specifically). The draw that felt firm is indeed firm, but is producing massive amounts of smoke. The small ring gauge only takes a brief second to toast up evenly, and that prevents any scorching from taking place, leaving the flavor at the start untainted. The finish brings a tangy, sour cedar, but no heat. The ash holds firm for over an inch, a miracle at 40 ring gauge, and is tight, flakeless.
As the DC Lancero burns down further, the draw opens up a bit, and the flavors get a little darker with a dark coffee joining the roasted nuts and spices. The technical performance here is outstanding. Between the length which the ash hold firm, the razor sharp burn line, and the amount of smoke being produced... just flawless. The complex combination of flavors helps too... The ash holds for well over an inch the second time it falls as well. It is a shame these are hard to find, and pricey when you do.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a lover of Arturo Fuente cigars, and one thing they do well is use Cameroon wrappers. Well, in the lancero vitola, the Don Carlos blend, which uses the Cameroon wrapper famously well, really shines, and I think that the ratio of filler and binder being so large to the filler is what causes this. The flavors present are nothing unusual for Fuente cigars, but in this size they are really concentrated, and powerful. Anyone who says they cannot pick out specific flavors, I challenge you to (well first find one and then) smoke one of these, and tell me you don't taste, specifically, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and roasted nuts here. I tend to speak highly of balance in cigars, and this too is an exemplary example of that very trait. No one flavor of characteristic is overwhelming here. Nothing is subtle about it, that is for sure (except maybe the strength, which is nearly non-existent, body is medium at most, and there is no nicotine present), but all of the bold, complex flavors here work in harmony with one another.
Getting close to the final third a little heat becomes apparent through the nose, and an oily leather joins the array of flavors on the draw. The coffee flavor that developed during the second third becomes more predominant, and the sweet spices and cedar fall off a bit. The roasted nut flavor continues to play a major role though, something that I attribute to that gorgeous Cameroon wrapper.
With about 3/4 of an inch left, it is time to let this one go out, though I regret doing so. The Don Carlos lancero really shines. One of those cigars where everything comes together to turn a melody into a symphony of flavor and just downright pleasant smoking. Ended at 6:18pm, so almost two hours. If you find yourself in Las Vegas at Casa Fuente, or at one of the few big events the Fuentes host every year, and these are present, do yourself a big favor and get one, or a few, or if you can swing a box (which seem to be boxes of 37, a strange number), don't hesitate. Just make sure that when you light one, you have time, and the right setting, to really enjoy it, and pay attention to all of the little nuances and treasures it has to offer.