San Lotano – Oval Gordo
Yes, I know, I slacked it last week. Well, not really. I’m actually working on a huge, crazy, campaign at work and I have been insanely busy. Sorry that it took me over a week to finally lay this review down, but hopefully The San Lotano Oval makes up for it!
The Good Stuff: San Lotano is the latest brain child of master-blender AJ Fernandez. AJ is better known for his crazy successful blends such as the Man O’ War line, the Ave Maria, La Herencia, and even the AF1 and AF2 from Emilio cigars. Working backwards from mail-order production, AJ Fernandez has released the San Lotano which is a line exclusive only to Brick and Mortar shops. The San Lotano lines are blended in the Tabacalera Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Oval in particular made it’s debut at this year’s IPCPR show in Las Vegas, sporting a top priming Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, along with Nicaraguan, Honduran, and a top secret filler blend. The Oval comes in six different sizes: Petit Robusto – 4.5 x 54, Corona – 5 x 54, Robusto – 5.5 x 54, Toro – 6 x 54, Gordo – 6.5 x 60, and the Pyramid – 6.5 x 54 which will all range from $6 to about $9 a stick. These were kindly sent of to us by Spence over at AJ Fernandez Cigars.
Size: 6 x 54 – Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero – Binder: Nicaraguan – Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Secret concoction
Prelight: The obvious stand-out characteristic in this cigar is the shape. Despite being a little quirky, and different then what I am used to, the rounded “oval” format of the Oval makes it incredible easy to hold. This reminds be a lot of the rounded box-press cigars that Padron has been making. Outside of the strange shape the San Lotano Oval sports the suburb quality and construction we have all grown to expect from AJ Fernandez. The body of the cigar is very firm with only a few veins leading up to the very round double cap. The band is identical to the rest of the San Lotano line with the cold print and AJ Fernandez crest, with the only difference being the dark greet “San Lotano Oval” slogan in the center of the band. The other blends tend to use a difference color background. The wrapper is very thick, and durable carrying a nice milky, dark chocolate brown that’s extremely consistent until you get towards to cap of the cigar where the color begins to darken quite a bit. I love to see color differences in cigars. It gives them a much more natural, less dyed look.
The wrapper of the cigar gives off just a nice, smooth natural tobacco scent while the foot explodes with spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and just about every other sweet seasoning you’d find in a bakery. The aroma is incredible. It almost smells like a cinnamon roll. The Oval cut clean and actually very easy with my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw wasn’t as warn and toasty with cinnamon producing fun as I expected. The spice is there for sure, with a nice floral flavor then an overall natural earthy and tobacco flavor. Time to light this guy up and see what the real flavors end up like.
First Smoke: WOAH. Prepare for some flavor. The San Lotano Oval starts out with the just massive burst of cinnamon, sweet tobacco, slight pepper, and spice. All the flavors I picked up in the prelight really shine though and even the first few draws are flavor packed and ready to demand your attention. I’m not used to getting this much flavor off the bat of a larger ring gauged cigar. The draw is very easy and smooth giving a pretty nice sized mouthful of smoke with each puff. The Oval really doesn’t give off a lot of stationary smoke, and even then, despite all the flavor this cigar puts out the stationary smoke is relatively mild with only hints of spice and cedar. The burnline is dead even and razor sharp leaving behind a nice trail of solid, medium grey ash which held on for well over an inch before giving way. That’s a long way considering just how windy is was outside while I was smoking this.
Halfway There: At this point the pepper has completely dropped out of the picture. The San Lotano Oval is now pumping out a nice smooth, cinnamon, floral, cedar flavor with some interesting chocolate notes of the after taste. I am still impressed with the amount of flavor this larger ring gauged cigar has been able to kick out. I usually stay away from larger ring gauges for both flavor, and comfort reasons but the Oval Gordo, with it’s unique format doesn’t carry either of those two problems. The retrohale is awesome on this cigar coating your nasal passage with a very nice spice. I found myself retrohaling the hell out of this cigar. The burn is still solid and even and I’m barely feeling just a little nicotine kick from this cigar after the second third.
Finish: The San Lotano had a unique way of really smoothing out without losing the flavor. Usually cigars tend to ramp up in body into the final third but the Oval did just the opposite and actually weakened in body which really made up for the final flavors. The main flavors were still cinnamon, nutmeg, earth tobacco with nice chocolate notes, only a bit smoother and not as bold as the first two thirds making for a really creamy, smooth finish. No harshness, no heat buildup, just an all around smooth and enjoyable finish.
Overview: AJ Fernandez has been on a roll the last few years creating some of the best mail order blends money can buy. AJ and his Brick and Mortar exclusive San Lotano line just added a few notches in his belt. Not to mention, after smoking multiple vitolas of all the cigars in the line, the Oval has to be the stand out and one of the best cigars I have had this year. Top ten worthy? We’ll have to see. But what I can say is that this is a perfect cigar for any level of cigar smoker. Tons of flavor without overbearing body makes it enjoyable for both the Pro Cigar Smoker, and the Novice. The price is spot on, and this is boxworthy by far and will be in my regular rotation for some time to come.
Pairing: I decided to pair the San Lotano Oval with a bottle of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Series “Kick”. I really want to stress that THIS IS NOT A BEER I WOULD RECOMMEND PAIRING WITH CIGARS. Kick is an ale brewed with 75% Pumpkin and Cranberry Juice and 25% Oak wooden barrel aged ale. That being said you would expect a sweet, low alcohol, smooth beer. No way. This is a very strong, VERY sour beer coming in at 8.5% ABV. This isn’t your beginners beer and if you aren’t a fan of sour ales, or have never tried them, you may want to stay away from this beer all together. Having smoked through the entire line of the San Lotano Oval I knew what this cigar was capable of. And to be honest, I knew that it would be one of the only cigars in my humidor that packed enough flavor to stand up to this beer. Did I make a wise decision? Shit yeah I did! The pumpkin and cranberry tart paired perfectly and even became an equalizer at some points with the Oval. If you can get your hands on this beer and enjoy sours, do it. It was a neat experiment that actually turned out the way that I had hoped.