July 10, 2012

Cigar Review: San Lotano Oval Maduro Robusto


San Lotano Oval

With the successful release of the San Lotano Oval line by A.J.Fernandez Cigars, the company decided to continue the hype with the of release and announce the Maduro version. On a totally random note, I have come across many people who don’t understand that A.J. Fernandez Cigars is the brand, and San Lotano is the line. I have found that when I mention A.J. Fernandez Cigars to some people they do not know who they are, but do know San Lotano. Either way, if you like San Lotano, you most likely like A.J. Fernandez Cigars. Anyways, with the release of the Oval line, the line got lots of attention, and one of the reasons it got the attention that it deserved was because of the unique size it possessed. With a unique oval shape, there really has been no other cigar that looked like this. Along with a great sizing, the line has tons of flavors, and was presented beautifully. I have many of the Ovals in my humidor for when I crave a great A.J. smoke, and that is fairly often.


I struggle in determining if this is my favorite of the releases by A.J., and at the end of the day I am stuck between the Oval and Habano smokes. With that being said, let us look at the Maduro version, and see how it compares. Before I begin in talking about the Oval Maduro, I want to talk about the history of San Lotano. The line was originally produced in Cuba, and was produced by the grandfather of A.J. Fernandez. After sometime, the line was no longer produced, but A.J. kept the name for future years. Before producing his own San Lotano lines, he made incredibly cigars for Emilio Cigars, Esteban Carreras, and other big names, and to this day still makes some of their cigars. The Oval Maduro features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that has undergone the Maduro process, and a Nicaraguan binder. It has a mixture of filler tobacco from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican, and is a different blend from the original Oval line.

For this review I chose the Robusto vitola, and the cigar measures 5” with a 52 ring gauge. The wrapper is just gorgeous on the two cigars I have, and really showcases great qualities in any wrapper. There is a nice oily sheen to it, and also oily to touch. It is a very smooth wrapper, and there are some toothy characteristics as well throughout. There are really few veins present in the wrapper, and it looks like a solid dark chocolate bar. The shaping to the cigar is great, and it feels very natural in hand. I don’t prefer a typical parejo or box-pressed format typically, but I do love this shaping. The cigar has a great aroma at the foot of dark chocolate, rich earth, damp wood and aromatic spices, and really shows those rich Maduro qualities to the cigar. As I cut the head, there is a great cold draw, and it is continuing to show those awesome aromas in the draw.
Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
As I light up the cigar I am gifted with those strong Maduro flavors from the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. I am getting some definite dark cocoa and rich earth notes, but it is also showing some strong pepper and dark spice notes. There are some damp wood notes present as well with the cigar, as well as bits of leather, and it is a fairly strong in terms of strength.  Overall this is a cigar that shows strong flavors and has a strength level that is close to full in body. I would say that it is more between medium full and full, but it is gravitating towards full. In terms of construction the cigar is not burning that well. I have had to relight the cigar so far, and the burn line is fairly wavy, but it is producing a nice light charcoal colored ash that is fairly sturdy as well. Besides the burn line and relighting issue, I am enjoying the flavors from the cigar, and also the strength level as well.

When I get into the second third of the cigar, I am finding the spice and pepper notes to rise even more than where they were in the first third, and it is pairing wonderfully with these dark cocoa and rich earth notes. There is a nice balance between the strength and flavors in this cigar, and this is my type of maduro. There are still some rich earth, damp wood and leather notes present as well with the cigar, and it is producing a nice amount of thick smoke. The strength of the cigar is really at that full body level right now, and while it is strong, it is not overpowering in my opinion. I am still getting a burn line that is fairly wavy, but it is leaving an ash that is really lovely in coloring and holding on sturdy. I didn’t have to relight the cigar in this third, and that was a better sign from the first third.
Oval Press
I am in the final third of the cigar now, and this uniquely shaped cigar is coming to a close. It is has been burning very cool throughout the whole smoke, and that is continuing in this final third. The burn line has remained wavy throughout the final third, and it really is a shame, because the cigar could be so much more if that was not an issue. That light charcoal ash is holding on to the cigar firmly still in this third, and if there was an even burn line, it would be beautiful to look at. The flavors are still performing very similar to how they have been throughout, and it is really that spicy, peppery and sweet cocoa flavor profile. I would say the cocoa notes are stronger in this third than in the last two, and it is a nice change of pace. There are some damp wood and earth notes present as well towards the end, and it is showing that damp barn flavor to it with some leather here and there. The cigar remains full body towards the end of the cigar, and even on the last draw it is pleasant.

While I enjoyed the flavors of this cigar, I found myself to be more partial to the Habano version. I am not a major fan of maduro smokes, and more often than not I prefer a Habano wrapper. One problem with one of the cigars I smoked was with the burn line and having to relight it quite frequently. While I was getting great flavors from the cigar, it was difficult to have to put that work into the cigar. The other cigar I smoked was much better though in that department, and while that burn line was not even, it did not require relighting. I think one of the problems I came across was that the wrapper was so oily for one of the cigars that it caused a majority of the problems. In terms of flavors, the cigar was powerful and rich, and showed a great balanced between a strong maduro and a high strength level. Similar to a Fausto, this is the strength I am looking for with a maduro, and I love Ecuadorian Habano Maduro wrappers. I give this cigar an 89, and think that it could definitely be in the low 90’s if I had dry boxed it more and let it age some. I will definitely come back to this cigar, and age my future smokes of them.   
Oval Maduro Robusto

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