Cigar Review: San Lotano Habano by AJ Fernandez

Size: 5×52, Robusto

Wrapper: Brazilian Habano

Binder: Honduran & Dominican

Filler: Nicaraguan & Honduran

Strength: Full

Price: $6-8

Grade: 9.1

We recently reviewed the Maduro wrapper of this release by A.J. Fernandez and it was an excellent smoke. Our review today is the second of the three wrappers offered in the San Lotano line, and this particular wrapper has received a fair amount of buzz in cigar circles. The only difference between the blends is the choice of wrapper and today’s smoke sports a Brazillian Habano wrapper.

A.J. Fernandez is the third generation tobacco blender in his family. Successfully producing cigars for a number of other makers (Diesel, Man O’ War, Padilla Habano), A.J. has created a cigar for himself that will be distributed by Cigar Express in the U.S. San Lotano originated in Cuba with A.J.’s grandfather, but has not been produced in decades. San Lotano is made in Fernandez’s Esteli, Nicaragua factory, which produces 9 million cigars per year. The San Latano line debuted officially at this year’s IPCPR. You can read the official press release for the new line here.

Pre-light, 1.7:
The Habano wrapper on this smoke has just a few veins and has a rugged feel to it between the fingers. The cigar is well packed with a good weight in the palm. The presentation with two bands is very nice, and I like the heaviness of the bands.  Along the wrapper I pick up notes of leather and spice at the foot. The cold draw is a good indication of things to come, as my mouth is filled with red pepper spice and heavy wood notes.

Burn, 1.8:
As expected, the Robusto has a great draw and an ash that is consistent in color and holds well. The smoke temperature is spot on and is very pleasing on the palate. No touch ups or re-lights are required and as far as burn goes, this one is picture perfect.

Flavor, 2.8:
The first puff on the offering by A.J. Fernandez produces a ton of spice that covers the palate. Moving in to the first third, this stays the same but I do pick up other notes that are meaty in texture along with a toasted wood type profile. The finish is heavy and long on the palate, but is somewhat dry at times, which is surprising. The San Lotano hits it stride in the second third with the balance of spice, tobacco, and other notes really covering the palate on each draw. The red pepper spice is still the dominant flavor but the entire profile is well balanced and robust. The last third stays the course but, as expected, the spice increases towards the very end.

Overall, 2.8:
Compared to the Maduro, this smoke was fuller and did not have the sweet notes I found present on the finish of the first blend reviewed. I enjoyed this one more, as I found it more complex and I am a fan of spice, especially robust spice that lingers on the palate. This cigar is full bodied and is not for the beginner, but is a great smoke for those seeking a complex offering from a great blender.  I look forward to reviewing the final wrapper from A.J. – after the first two my anticipation is high. Great smoke for the money.

(Total: 9.1)