Size: 6.125 x 52 “Fabuloso-Torpedo”
I am going to start this trek with the San Cristobal, owned by Ashton, and blended by Pepin Garcia. Now Garcia is known for his “spicy” cigars. Spicy meaning just what it says; hot peppers baby. But the cigar will not necessarily be full bodied. And in this case, the SC is medium in body.
Construction is excellent. The seams are pretty tight. There are a lot of veins. The wrapper has a nice oily sheen. And the wrapper has a nice reddish hue. And never let this dissuade you from buying a cigar. Looking rustic may put you off, but it may have nothing to do with the flavor and character. Look for seams that are put together well. No air showing. And lastly, the cap. The cap usually is a single cap but in better made cigars, it is a triple cap for stability and structural integrity. This stick has a triple cap.
Released in 2007, this Nicaraguan puro is made by Don Pepin Garcia in his Tabacalera Cubana factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It features a beautiful, oily, dark brown wrapper with a bit of toothiness. I will describe toothiness later.
You will learn, step by step, how to identify wrappers to some degree. Certain countries have similar colors based on the soil they are grown in.
Now the sniff test…cup your hands with the cigar inside. Sniff with your eyes closed for maximum effect. I can smell cinnamon, cocoa, cedar, sweet tobacco, and raisins. Now ain’t that a bit daunting?
You will learn to identify those smells. It is not just your tongue that will depend on taste, but your nose as well. The best place to get the most intense aroma is at the open foot. Now remember, these aromas are very subtle. The best way to learn about the smell of a specific cigar is to read several reviews of it first. Reading what you are to expect will help you learn to identify the aromas.
Since this is a torpedo with a pointy cap, I decide to use a guillotine cutter and then I light up. Only cut about 3/8″. Any more than that destroys the intent of the blender by concentrating the flavors through a smaller opening.
Use a single torch lighter for best results. You don’t want to scorch the cigar with a triple flame and blacken the wrapper for an inch or so. By using a single torch flame, you can control the amount of flame to the foot. And remember to always rotate the cigar while lighting to evenly start the cigar. Stop now and again to blow on the foot to fan the flames. Once the foot seems close to being lit, put the cigar in your mouth and light away while rotating the cigar. Be careful not to be excessive in torch to foot ratio.
I light the cigar as I described and get a nice even burn line on the foot. The first flavor I detect is spiciness. And this is red pepper. Black pepper is tasted in the rear of the mouth and red pepper shows itself on the tip of the tongue and the front of the mouth. Don’t worry, you’ll get it. Now spicy does not mean full body. It means spicy. This is very common for Garcia cigars and Nicaraguan leaves. Especially, aged cigars. This particular cigar has been in my humidor for 5 months allowing it to rest and for the flavors to blossom. And never, never leave the cellos on the cigar. They are strictly for protection of the cigar during shipping. Your cigar can’t breathe encapsulated by cellophane.
San Cristobal received an amazing 93-point rating, which commented:
“This dark Churchill has a pointed, torpedo-like cap. The first draws load the palate with spice, nutmeg, and cherry flavors. A very rich and balanced smoke.
A 93 is very impressive. Cigars rarely get any higher than 95.
As the cigar burns, the char line begins to get a bit raggedy. You must always keep an eye on how the cigar burns. It should have a nice, razor sharp burn line. If it begins to canoe or cone, you’re in trouble. And I will provide a glossary of terms later. But basically, I just said that if the cigar burns unevenly, it will ruin the experience.
I can also taste a light cocoa element. And with it, some creaminess. Now creaminess needs no explanation because even the most inexperienced smoker can taste it. It is heavenly and tastes just like it is described. Creaminess ramps up the quality of the cigar big time. It will enhance the other flavors.
Cinnamon and baking spices; like nutmeg, are common. Generally, they are very subtle. And you will have to dig deep to find these. Remember, this cigar has had 5 months to rest and blossom. A cigar just off the UPS truck, or from your local Brick & Mortar store, won’t taste as pleasant as a properly rested cigar. These cigars are referred to as “green.” You will taste hay, barnyard, and grass. All horrible flavors. And yes, barnyard is exactly what it sounds like. Some cigars will taste phenomenal and give you a teaser of what the blender had in mind in just the first couple days you have the cigar. And then it will go blah on you and you will have to wait 2 weeks to 3 months for the cigar to get back to that exciting taste. I will later post a list of cigars that you can smoke right away, later.
Back to the San Cristobal. I am still in the first third. The spiciness is clearing my sinuses. You will come to love spiciness as I did. It’s an eye popper and very common to Nicaraguan cigars. Which, in fact, has quickly become the favorite of blenders everywhere. Consumers these days want strong cigars and the strongest seems to come from Nicaragua.
Reviewers break up the flavor components of the cigar into thirds. Why? Who the hell knows? But that’s just what we do unless the cigar is very small.
As I leave the first third, the creaminess and the cocoa are just exploding. The body is on the mild side of medium. Which also comes from resting.
The dried fruit profile is much stronger now and the cigar is beginning to show off its character by becoming more complex. And complex means that generally, the flavors are not unique to themselves. They begin to coalesce and become one. Discerning the flavors independently is more difficult unless they excel within the framework of the cigar. It also means that the cigar is stretching its legs. The blender’s intent is now introducing itself.
As I hit the halfway mark, the flavors are shooting at me like a laser show. The spiciness is making my tongue tingle. The creaminess is out of this world. The cocoa is like hot chocolate. Coffee shows up. And more fruitiness. Part of it is raisin but I can also taste some sort of stone fruit like dark cherry. And again, remember, this is not an artificially flavored cigar. These are natural flavors that emerge from the very complex art of blending. These flavors are mild. They don’t jump out at you like a flavored cigar which I personally dislike. If I want a grape flavored cigar, I will go out and buy a grape lollipop instead.
In most cases, the cigar uses the first third of the cigar to prepare itself for the halfway mark where the blender’s talent is shown off. If you smoke a cigar and don’t get flavors like this, you are probably smoking it too soon or it’s a dog rocket. And there are plenty of crappy cigars out there. To really get the great cigar experience, you are going to have to spend a couple bucks starting at least around $5.00 each.
Once the cigar is showing off its flavor, it is something to savor. Slow down. Don’t let it go out, but take a puff only 1-2 minutes apart. It clears your palate and the flavors shine.
If you chomp and puff away like a smoke stack, you are going to bury the flavors. And probably get a nicotine buzz which is no fun at all.
In later reviews, I will pick less expensive cigars to try. As medium body is the least strength in my humidor, you will get to really learn to enjoy good cigars. I find mild body cigars to be boring. And that’s because while the strength is mild, the flavor profile is usually bland and boring as well. Some of the Ashtons and Macanudos are exceptions as they appeal to the non-smoker who likes to smoke a good cigar but doesn’t like much strength to it. These are usually referred to as golf link cigars.
The char line has finally cleaned itself up after a couple corrections by me. And there is nothing wrong with using your lighter to correct a funky burn. Just be very careful.
I am now picking up some citrus notes; orange zest. The cigar adds a vanilla element to the creaminess. New flavors to add to the previous flavors which are still there as the last third begins.
The San Cristobal is an excellent cigar. It is full flavored. A term used by the marketing departments of the manufacturer. And this stick is chock full of flavor.
The complexity level continues to show its finesse. This is a very sophisticated cigar.
As the cigar burns down to the last couple inches, it never becomes harsh or bitter. It remains smooth as my tush and cool as a cucumber.
This is the perfect cigar for the Newbie. It is chock full of flavors to discover. The body doesn’t exceed medium. And it is a cigar to be savored; thereby making it a true experience.
The facts, Jack:
This is a new journey for me. To deliver information and reviews about cigars for the Newbie cigar smoker. Cigars are a huge industry. Over a billion dollars was spent on cigars in 2010 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That extrapolates to 700 million cigars. That is mind boggling…and these figures are just for the U.S.
While I like to think of this as an informative section of my blog, I am going to stay away from as much statistics as possible. If you want those statistics, you can Google them. That stuff is way too dry.
I want to discuss the human taste palate.
“The tongue map, or taste map, is a common misconception that different sections of the tongue are exclusively responsible for different basic tastes. It is illustrated with a schematic map of the tongue, with certain parts of the tongue labeled for each taste. Although widely taught in schools, this was scientifically disproven by later research; all taste sensations come from all regions of the tongue, although parts may be more sensitive to certain flavors.” We will discover this specifically through the sensation of tasting spiciness in our cigars.
For the new cigar smoker or the inexperienced smoker, I advise keeping a journal. After, or during, each cigar you can write down your experience.
We have almost 10,000 taste buds inside our mouths; even on the roofs of our mouths.
“The five tastes are conveyed to the body through receptors found throughout the mouth, called taste buds or gustatory calyculi. The vast majority of taste buds are found on the top of the tongue, but some are also on the roof of the mouth. In addition, the sense of smell plays a large role in conveying taste to people, and people with impaired or non-existent senses of smell may find it difficult to impossible to taste any of the five tastes.
“The idea of having a few primary taste senses in the Western world goes back to Aristotle. He separated taste into two main areas: bitter and sweet, and then further subdivided these into the tastes of: puckery, sour, salty, succulent, harsh, and pungent. In the East, the Chinese integrated the idea of fundamental tastes into their idea of the five elements, giving five tastes as well: sour, sweet, salty, spicy, and bitter.”
Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the info above.
I hope this provided a little bit of info for the inexperienced smoker. I will continue in later reviews to break down the facts and information about the huge complexity of cigar smoking.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS
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