A.J. Fernandez San Lotano Oval
Fatal Halo Rating
Dimensions: 6.5” x 54 (oval-shaped box press)
Burn Time: 2.5 hrs.
Wrapper: Habano 2000 (aged 4 years)
Tobacco: Nicaraguan & Honduran
Purchased at: Montecristo House of Cigar (Powell, Ohio – www.houseofcigar.net)
I was interested in trying this cigar after seeing it ranked #2 on Cigar Journal’s Top 25 of 2011 and also because of its unique shape which can really only be described as an "oval-shaped box press". Quite an amazing look. The buzz around the smoke shop was also pretty high about this one in particular and the only deterrent for me from trying one sooner was its price tag – but I eventually had to give in and see if this one smoked as good as it looked.
The shape itself is pretty amazing, but the wrapper is very smooth and silky to the touch. It is a firm cigar with very few (if any) noticeable soft spots. The head seems to be double-capped – and they do look a little flimsy, so I’m hoping the clip won’t cause the wrapper to unravel. I also found that the wrapper has a split leaf about half-way up on the stick. Not sure if that’s my handling that caused that or the cigar shop’s, but I’m hoping that won’t cause too much trouble after lighting. The aroma off the wrapper is very mellow and smooth – kind of leathery and earthy, but just subtle enough that I can’t pick up on any specifics.
The First Third
I clipped the cap very slightly so as not to cause any unraveling and it took just a pinch to get the proper level on it. The dry draw pulled very smoothly and easily, so I went ahead and torched it up. I could tell right away by how quickly the foot took the flame that the reason for the cracked leaf wasn’t in the handling at all, but because the cigar was a little dry. Regardless, the first pull of smoke after toasting the foot was surprisingly mellow and at precisely the right strength that I can really enjoy the flavors! Thick, billowing white clouds of smoke rise out of this bad boy with each puff – but it is not at all overpowering. I cannot yet tell if the cracked wrapper is affecting the smoke at all as it feels I am pulling in more air on the draw than I should be, but the cigar is burning evenly, so I do not see any issues yet. Perhaps there might be in the second third when the cherry hits that segment.
Still hard to describe in terms of flavor, this cigar certainly has a refined, aged aroma to it. For the amount of flavor it does have, I would expect it to be much more potent and full-bodied, but it is very mellow with just the right amount of spice and pepper to linger on the palate. I have never had a cigar quite like this one before, but if it is true that that majority of the flavor of a cigar is found in the wrapper, their Habano 2000 selection is right on the money. I am making sure to handle the cigar delicately when smoking it and using my free had to hold the broken wrapper in place while taking my draws to be sure that it stays intact until I burn past that point.
The Second Third
Burned right down to the cracked wrapper, and although there was some minor flaking, the cigar corrected itself very quickly all on its own and didn’t lose a hint of flavor or compromise the burn! I’m actually incredibly impressed as I was expecting a much more dramatic issue to arise – but no. The cigar remains a consistent medium-body and the flavors begin to betray a bit of a cedar taste. It is still producing large billows of white smoke but remaining as mellow as first light. This cigar is a bit of an oddity, but one I’m actually marveling at! I’m really enjoying what I think may actually be a masterpiece rivaling (or at least equaling) the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial!
I had to manually correct the burn a couple of times once I burned down this far, but it didn’t detract from the enjoyable experience of smoking this cigar. The flavors kicked up a bit at the end with a little more spice and pepper, but the consistent mellowness of the cigar up until this point really eases you into it gently and allows you to enjoy the subtle nuances that await. I tend to appreciate cigars that have more complexity to them, but in this case, the balance was perfect from the first draw and I was really glad it remained as consistent as it did.
This cigar has certainly become one of my new favorites. From the unique shape and flawless construction to the buttery flavor and aroma, the San Lotano is an absolutely exquisite cigar that I think experienced smokers and newbies alike will appreciate. Initially, I was hesitant to buy one because of the price tag, but after researching more about the components used to construct it and the experience of smoking it, the Oval is worth every penny. It most certainly deserves it’s #2 spot on the top 25 cigars of 2011 and I am looking forward to my next one.
Liked It?: Profoundly.
Buy It Again?: Without question. I may even buy a few to share with others!
Recommend It?: 100%.
Pairing(s): Magic Hat’s “Howl (Black as Night Lager)”. Has a real distinct malted-chocolate flavor that really compliments the cigar. I could also see myself enjoying a nice Irish coffee with this cigar as well. May have to try that next time just to be sure!