This cigar is so new that I can’t find a lick of real background info on it. So the best I can do is tell you what it tastes like…
First of all, I am the hugest AJ Fernandez fan. He can do no wrong in my book.
The cedar wrapper is quite the piece of art. The top is scalloped to allow for the cigar band’s curve. There is a “brand” of a bull’s head on the cedar. And it is finished off with a piece of black ribbon around the foot. It feels sacrilegious to remove the whole mishegos to get to the cigar. It slides off of the cigar perfectly. It is in perfect shape.
Construction of the cigar, like most AJ sticks, is close to flawless. The chocolate brown wrapper is very oily and smooth. Seams are tight. There are spider veins along the length of the cigar, but no tree trunks. The color also has a gorgeous mottling. The box press is perfection.
The caps vary from cigar to cigar. Some are very pointy and some are more on the blunt side. It appears to be a triple cap.
I clip the cap and find aromas of cedar, baking cocoa, leather, coffee, and sweetness.
Time to light up.
I am immediately hit with a wall of spiciness. Right behind that is leather and cedar. The draw is perfect as it spews out columns of smoke. The char line is looking very good.
On the tails of the first set of flavors comes cocoa, cinnamon, and a light coffee. And then, behind that, is that natural sweetness that Nic puros do so well. Like the voo doo that you do so well. The stick is packed solid with tobacco and hence; a slow burner.
I asked the Fernandez people if they could fill me in on some of the notes about the cigar. Another “B” List reviewer gets ignored. I’m sure the later reviews will be full of information. All I can do is tell you how it tastes.
I’ve been on this stick for 10 minutes and haven’t cracked the first half inch. Which means I have time on my hands. Which means another dreadful rock n roll story on the horizon.
The body is classic medium. And the flavors are somewhat muted; but at this point, that is no surprise. The red pepper has backed off some. My ear lobes are no longer on fire.
Halfway through the first third, flavors begin to pick up. So does the spiciness. No new flavors are added but the existing ones become more defined. The strength of the cigar is kicking up as well. The draw is a little more difficult. The stick is rock solid with a little give….but I have to really suck hard. (I know what you’re thinking and shame on you.)
Creaminess enters the picture enveloping all those flavors and compressing them.
The first third ends and it is leading to something special. The flavors really hit another gear. The cigar hits its G spot. The balance is perfect and now has a very long finish. The flavors are chugging along in unison without any being out of place. The creaminess leads the charge.
This cigar is different than the other San Lotanos. It is bolder as the name implies. The flavors are way out there now. And the strength is just shy of full bodied. And I didn’t have my breakfast cereal. Uh-oh.
Simply put, the cigar is a San Lotano on steroids. It takes all the best parts of the others and combines them in one blend.
The halfway point hits and the cigar is singing an aria from a Puccini opera. Delicious doesn’t begin to describe this stick. It’s as smooth as a piece of glass.
The wrapper sets this cigar apart from its fellow San Lotanos. It brings something special to the mix. CI says the cigar is medium/full leaning towards full. The only other San Lotano that is full bodied is the Habano.
But this baby hit full at the halfway mark. It is also an official flavor bomb now. Halfway through… and my head is spinning from the nicotine. But the Cigar Reviewer’s Union won’t allow me to stop writing.
This cigar is a testament to AJ’s growth as a blender. He has taken the San Lotano line to a new level. In fact, he has taken his skills to a new level. AJ is a young man and I cannot imagine what the future will bring forth from this brilliant cigar maker.
These cigars are not cheap. More expensive than the $8 line of San Lotanos. But the extra cost is in the pudding. This is a special cigar. One to be consumed strategically. No distractions. Just you and the cigar.
And now for something completely different:
Now what the hell haven’t I told you yet? Hmmmm….
I told you about my oldest friend, Skip. And how we went to Europe together in the 70’s. I have another tale of friendship and music.
I was a child of the folk music era of the early/mid 60’s. I picked up the 5 string banjo. Skip picked up the guitar and we taught ourselves how to play. We loved music. Mostly, rock and roll. So we were in the right place at the right time for the period of love and understanding.
There was a great venue for musical concerts in Anaheim. It was called Melodyland. It was a theater in the round. Skip and I always bought front row center seats for around $3.50 each.
And we saw everyone. Our first concert after I got my driver’s license at 16 was Buffalo Springfield. I had never heard a band play so loudly and I was hooked. Melodyland always had a full evening’s entertainment. No band played longer than 30-45 minutes so there were always 5-10 bands to watch.
Buffalo Springfield had just scored a top 10 hit with their “Clancy..” song. And there we were watching these soon to be icons of the music world.
One night, we saw the greatest concert of all. The Mamas and Papas opened and played for a full hour. We were delirious. And after that, Simon and Garfunkel came on and did 90 minutes. Just the two of them and Simon’s guitar. No backing band. We sat there rapt in wonder.
At 16, The Byrds played at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. It was a small dive that seated about 150 people and getting tickets was impossible. So I called the place and pretended to be a reporter from the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper. Their manager bought into it and my friend, Elliot Kushell, and I took a tape recorder and camera and we spent the whole evening back stage.
We literally hung out with the band in their dressing room the whole night while they played three sets. I wrote an article and submitted it to Tiger Beat magazine but it was rejected. Full of red marks correcting me. It was like fucking English class. I still have the reel from the interview we did with Jim McGuinn.
And then the craziest of all: Jimi. The place was half full. It was before Woodstock. We watched as this guy, who had been living in London and killing them over there; had come back to America to play shit hole gigs.
The volume was so loud that a rep from the theater actually walked up to Jimi while he was playing a solo and used his hands to show that the volume had to come down. We laughed hysterically. And since we were only 10 feet away from him, Jimi saw us laugh and he looked at us and smiled.
So what did Jimi do? He turned up, of course.
Things were very informal in those days. Especially at a small venue like Melodyland. So Skip and I always hung out and talked to the bands afterwards. They were all gracious and kind to us. They never shooed us away.
We endeavored to talk to Jimi but we realized he was really high. Didn’t know on what. But he was out there. Maybe he wasn’t high. He was just being Jimi.
When I was 19, I got tickets to see the Doors at the L.A. Forum. I was shocked at seeing the stage. This place was huge. But the stage was completely set up like a fortress of Marshall amplifiers. At least 15-20 feet tall. And they stretched across the stage not allowing one inch for anything else. If I had to guess, I would say there were 50 amps up there.
Now this was surreal. The Doors’ opening act was Jerry Lee Lewis. Everyone loved this guy but who thought this would be a good opener? And to make things worse, Lewis was going through his country phase. So all the musicians in his 8 piece band wore the exact same three piece suits. And Lewis wore a different colored three piece suit.
After about three songs, the audience started to boo. Lewis must not have heard them. He did a torturous 45 minute set. And when he came to the last song, he approached the mike and asked the audience, “You wanna’ hear more?”
And in unison, 20,000 people yelled, “NO!!!!!”
Lewis was in shock. And then told the audience to go to hell and stomped off the stage to thunderous applause.
Morrison was a known drunk. He held a bottle of Southern Comfort the whole time and about 15 minutes into the music, he grabbed an empty box and puked into it. In one hand he held the liquor and the other, the box. So for the entire set, he was either drinking or puking. He got booed as well. It was disgusting, especially when he missed the box.
Not long after that, Led Zeppelin came to the Forum. I saw them play every single time they hit L.A. Right up until the death of Bonham. So I must have seen them play 4-5 times. My new girlfriend had never gone to a real concert before and when Bonham started sledge hammering the drums for the start of the song “Rock and Roll,” my girlfriend lifted out of her seat like a helium balloon and never sat back down for the entire concert. She was mesmerized. I got laid that night. If you never saw the original Zep, well…that’s a real shame because it was like watching the thunder of the gods.
Who else did I see in L.A.? I saw The Who. With drummer, Keith Moon. I saw Cream. My first bass was a Hofner like McCartney. But watching Jack Bruce play his Gibson made me change axes. I bought a brand new Gibson EBO and juiced it up with fancy electronics. In fact, I used that bass on the Curved Air Live album. It was after that that the band convinced me to switch to a Fender P.
My bass playing style completely changed as I mimicked the improv style of Jack Bruce. I got really good which held me in good stead when I auditioned for Curved Air. But the great jazz fusion bassist, Stanley Clarke, also had a huge influence on me and the combo of the two made me a special player over in England.
I know I am missing a shit load of bands that I saw as a young man but it was so long ago and I’m so decrepit, it is hard to remember them all.
But it was quite an era.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS