San Cristobal Elegancia | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.12 x 52 “Pyramid”
Body: Medium
Price: $7.00


A lot has been written about this cigar since its debut at the 2011 IPCPR trade show. I will try to keep my input to a minimum.

San Cristobal cigars are a collaboration between Pepin Garcia and Ashton Cigars. The line is produced at the My Father factory in Esteli. Going for something different, Garcia decided to take his beloved aged Nicaraguan leaves and wrap them in a delicate Connecticut wrapper; thereby giving them a milder, and smoother, blend. I have heard people argue whether it is a mild or medium bodied cigar. As this is my first Elegancia, we shall find out together.

Clearly, Cigar Aficionado liked it by giving the Pyramid a whopping 93 rating. Here is how CA described the 91 rated Robusto:
“Finished with a three-seam cap, this robusto draws evenly. It has savory tobacco flavors balanced by sweet coffee notes that emerge midway through the cigar.”

The wrapper is full of knotty veins. Made by a lesser blender, I would say it is sloppy. The wrapper is the color of a light caramel. The triple cap is flawless. There is a small amount of oiliness and it is very smooth to the touch.

The cap comes off and I get aromas of nuts, spice, very strong cedar, and oak.
Time to light up.

The draw is wonderful. The first puffs fill the dining room where I work. I get a very strong red pepper flavor. My mouth is lit with burning logs. I grab for my water to put out the fire. My eyes water and my sinuses feel like they’ve been reamed. Wow. And the burn line is terrible forcing me to fix it.
I put the cigar down to rest. I feel like lying down next to it. I read a few reviews to get an idea of what other reviewers thought about this cigar and nobody mentioned that it has the infamous Garcia blast of pepper. My head damn near turned 360° like Linda Blair’s.

The char line is an utter disgrace. It canoes faster than I can correct it. It will look horrible in photos.
The cigar smooths out bit and I get flavors of nuts, creaminess, light coffee, and some earthiness. Either the pepper has moved to the back of the line or my taste buds are charred beyond recognition.

A nice sweetness shows itself, probably natural occurring aloe vera to heal the burned mouth from the forest fire early on.

The burn line is still not behaving itself; although, not as horribly as the start of the cigar.

In spite of the terrible construction, the cigar becomes a flavor bomb at the 2” mark. I have to disagree with my colleagues. There is nothing mild about this cigar. It hits medium as soon as the habanero portion of the experience stopped. The cigar is absolutely delicious. It is smooth with loads of character and richness. It is a class act.

I only had two of these sticks and I smoked one yesterday and had no burn issues whatsoever. It figures that the one I pick for review is the bad boy. Whatcha’ gonna’ do?

I a taste a wonderful sweet, unsalted butter element. And the nuts taste like a combo of cashew, almond, and walnut. The butter and the creaminess are sublime.

I went past the second third a bit ago but got caught up in the excitement of the out of control burn to mention it. There is a fruity and floral taste happening at the same time. My wife, who is in the living room adjacent to where I work, tells me how delightful this cigar smells. She never does that. I find it impossible to smell a cigar while I am smoking it.

The halfway point sees the char line near perfection. I purchased two singles on Cbid for $5 each instead of the online price of $7. I’m sure that the cigar goes for several dollars more in your local B & M. So, $5 is a real steal.

At this point in the cigar, there is a mighty resurgence of the red pepper. It is exactly like the start of the cigar. I love a spicy cigar but it is obliterating the subtle, delicious flavors.

The char line goes awry once more. This is ridiculous. All my photos show charred burn lines.

I let the cigar rest for a few minutes and it settles down. The flavor bomb status returns; although my palate feels scarred.

Some reviewers noted citrus and figs. I taste none of that. I think they were destroyed in the massive fire caused by the red hot peppers.

And then as I write this, a dried fruit flavor arrives. I don’t taste figs; but something else.
The body hits just a tick above medium body now. Very little nicotine. But the strength is moving towards full. Did I get a mutant cigar?

The last third really calms down and the flavor profile is outstanding. I now taste lemony zest. The dried fruit tastes like premium, soft prunes. Very intense. There is a giant fruit stand you pass on the way from So. Cal. to Palm Springs called Hadley’s. They are famous for their date shakes and incredible dried fruits.

The prune shares the spotlight with premium dates. The combination of the citrus and intense sweetness of the dried fruit is exemplary. This is one of the most unique flavored cigars I’ve smoked. And I have smoked the entire line of San Cristobal. And this, by far, is the best in my book. Of course, ignoring the construction issues and focusing on flavor.

Once more, the other reviews did not mention the heavy dose of spice that I am experiencing. In fact, they say that it doesn’t have the expected spiciness that Garcia usually blends. A real quandary.

I’m finishing up my second glass of 20 oz. water. If I had a water hose, I’d probably use that instead. The spiciness is still with me. But finally, a more refined and subtle influence.

The cigar finishes out delightfully, full of those wonderful flavors. The char line remains at the normal level. I guess it was dumb bad luck with the burn issues.

I am going to get more of these cigars because what I just experienced must have been far out of the norm. The cigar finishes out a strong medium body but without all the nicotine.
This was a real roller coaster of a ride.


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5 replies

  1. With all that heat and fire, I didn’t know if you were reviewing a cigar or narrating the Tet Offensive. They should advertise this Cristobal with, “Buy five, get free pack of Rolaids”. I love Garcias but this one may be better served grated over my chili than smoked. But I am glad you lived to tell about it.

  2. Thanks Yohannian…I can always count on you to be funnier than me.

  3. Damn…This review reminds me of when I was fighting in Vietnam…You are going to buy more of these ? Semper fi Katman…Oorah !

  4. Mine uber-canoed the whole time, I also had to more frequently draw on it then I wanted to keep the wrapper from going out and the cigar to keep on burning inside; I had to relight all around the edge of the wrapper several times because of this. Not sure why this happened? I found nothing mild about it either, I had a different cristobal before, personally it was the strongest cigar I had ever tried and it was too much for me, like inhaling all of a campfire into a paper towel tube. This was milder than that, but still takes second as the heaviest cigar I’ve tried. With both cristobals, there was a flavor I still cannot pinpoint, its odd and I can’t tell if I like it or not, but yeah hell it was a spice bomb, almost too much for me as well. I also got one of the biggest nicotine kicks from it only half way in too.

  5. Thanks for joining our inbred group of misfits. Don’t stop now. Keep commenting.
    So, Little Tea Pot, what do we call you?

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