April 12, 2012

Cigar Review: San Lotano Habano Toro

San Lotano Habano
While there are many cigar manufacturers with talent right now, one that particularly comes to mind is A.J. Fernandez. He has been making incredible cigars for years now, and makes cigars for some of the big names in the industry and also boutique companies. I could list several names for, lines long, but some that stick out to me are Emilio Cigars, Esteban Carreras, Graycliff, Gurkha and Padilla. I know he has made blends for other manufacturers in past years, but I have heard that he doesn’t know for some, and it is hard to keep up to date on the actual list. Along with making cigars for those manufacturers, he makes a lot of private retail exclusive lines for Cigar.com and Cigars International. Like Plasencia and Pepin, it is very likely that you have smoked a cigar that he was a part of in some way. 

Being a protégé of Alejandro Robaina, A.J. Fernandez has mastered how to properly ferment tobacco and use it in incredible ways. When it comes to tobacco, he really utilizes lots of verities of tobacco, and utilizes it from several counties throughout the world. His blends are always exotic, and because of that are very flavorful and enjoyable. It wasn’t until fairly recently that he began crafting his own line, and he did so with the San Lotano brand. The brand dates back to before Castro’s regime, and is actually his grandfather’s lines from when his family lived in San Luís, Cuba, which is in the famed Pinar del Río province of Cuba. While the brand has three core San Lotano lines with a different wrapper, and a newer sub-line with two different wrappers, San Lotano Oval. It is the Habano wrapper of the original San Lotano line that sticks out to me as one of the best.

San Lotano Habano is a very unique cigar, and it begins with an incredibly rare and flavorful tobacco leaf as the wrapper. The wrapper leaf is grown by the Fuego Family in Brazil, and is a rare Cuban Seed leaf that is ligero, Brazilian Habano. Underneath the unique wrapper is a Nicaraguan binder, and filler is a tri-country blend of tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. The vitola I am reviewing is the Toro vitola, and it measures 6”with a 54 ring gauge. The cigar begins with a nice appearance that shows qualities of being Natural and Maduro in coloring. There are no signs of Colorado coloring present, and the coloring shows that sepia tone. Holding the foot and wrapper to my nose I pick up aromas of wood, leather, coffee and spices, and I eagerly cut the head of the cigar.
Brazilian Habano - Cuban Seed
When I light up the cigar I am immediately greeted with unique flavors that show this quality of old and summer. There is a nice coffee present with the smoke, and it is accompanied by a lovely spice level that is not to overwhelming but perfect. Along with that I am noticing some nice leather, spice and wood flavors. The wood notes really show some cedar and oak qualities to it, and the spices really are not one dominating flavor profile, but a combination of many. The draw is nice, slightly firm, but that is perfect for me and it is producing a perfect burn line. The ash on the burn line is this near perfect white coloring with hints of light gray and the cigar is smoking at a nice medium full body and a great cigar to close the evening with.   

I enter the second third, and I find that the flavor profile is still fairly similar to that of the first third. Those dominant coffee flavors are present right off the bat, and the spice level has increased some in third making the cigar appear fuller in strength. Those wood flavors are definitely present in this third, and like the first third is that of oak and cedar. It has a lovely finish of leather to it, and the strength I believe has increased as well. I would say the strength of the cigar in this third is at a solid full body point, and remaining there at a pleasant level. The burn line is still perfect in this third as well, and that ash is still mostly white with some light gray coloring.  

As I enter the final third of the cigar it is showing a lovely finish, and for a second I felt like I was enjoying a Cuban. This is a cigar that is perfect for those late summer afternoons, early evenings, and I would love to smoke these cigars in Nicaragua or Cuba. I found they were perfect in the Caribbean last time I was down there, and they just bring this sense of Central America and the Caribbean to them. The flavors of roasted coffee, leather and wood are wonderful, and the finish of spice and leather is a hit on the palate. The cigar remains full body in this third, and like consistency elsewhere, the cigar burns perfectly all the way to the end. That ash remained white all the way to the nub, and the flavors were still very pleasant on the last cool draw.

This was a thoroughly enjoying cigar, and I really enjoyed the flavor profile it offered. The construction of the cigar was immaculate, and I loved the white ash along the razor sharp burn line. The strength of the cigar remained at that medium full level which I prefer all the time, and with all those great characteristics it was an enjoyable smoke. I will say that I prefer the torpedo viotla to the toro, and that is because I find you really get a lot more flavors from the wrapper with the thinner ring gauge, even it is a 52, but this this cigar was still very well done. I give this cigar 91 points, the flavors are really pleasant, and it is very Cubanesque as well. It offers a flavor profile that is truly unique to this cigar, and I imagine A.J. was thinking of old school Cuban cigars when he crafted this smoke. In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with any cigar that bears the name San Lotano, and they are really preferred smokes of mine.        
Habano Toro