San Cristobal Ovation | Cigar Review

Wrapper: San Andrés Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.5 x 52
Body: Full
Price: $15.00 MSRP ($13.50 at many online stores)

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Today we take a look at the new San Cristobal Ovation by Ashton.
This was a gift from a reader. I can’t remember who. Please contact me so I can insert your name here _________. Thank you.

BACKGROUND:
Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. Esteli, Nicaragua
Limited Production (3,000 boxes of 22 cigars)
This cigar is the follow up to last year’s La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse.

From the Cigar Aficionado web site:
“Ashton Distributors Inc. debuted a limited-edition extension to the San Cristobal line at the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers trade show called San Cristobal Ovation. The cigar will launch in a single 6 1/2 inch by 52 ring gauge vitola and features a San Andrés Oscuro wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos.

“Fans of the San Cristobal line, however, will have to wait a few more months before the cigar hits store shelves. Ovation is slated for release much later in the year:
“We expect to ship Ovation in late fall,” Chip Goldeen, vice president of sales at Ashton Distributors, said in a conversation with Cigar Aficionado.

“The company says the wrapper has been subjected to an intensive two-and-a-half-year, double fermentation process, and the inner tobaccos were harvested exclusively from the farms of the Garcia family. Ovation, like all of Ashton’s San Cristobal cigars, is made at the Garcia’s My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

“The San Cristobal brand launched in 2007 and currently has three regular-production lines: San Cristobal, San Cristobal Elegancia and San Cristobal Revelation.”

From the Ashton Cigars web site:
“Handcrafted in Estelí, Nicaragua by legendary cigar-maker, Jose “Pepin” Garcia, San Cristobal Ovation is an opulent cigar, drawn from only the finest and rarest tobaccos grown on Garcia family estates in honor of the brand’s influential reception. A dark and lustrous San Andrés Oscuro wrapper emerges from an intensive two-and-a-half-year double-fermentation to reveal an approachable and captivating richness. Articulate notes of dark cocoa, wood and leather register with bottomless intrigue veiled beneath a creamy potency. Ovation concludes with sweet hickory aromas and substantial, prolonged gratification.”

DESCRIPTION:
Nice looking stick but there are minor issues. Some seams aren’t tight which makes me worry they will come loose eventually. Lots of veins. The wrapper is an oily, mottled, dark coffee bean brown. The cap is so impeccably created, that I can’t tell if there are more than three caps. I only say that because as of late, I’ve run into several quadruple caps.

The double cigar band could be a mural at Nicaragua’s Congress wall in the lobby. There is so much going on that I need a magnifying glass to truly enjoy the artist’s work. Hopefully, I will get a good shot later.
It also has a hot pink footer ribbon. (Charlotte had to make that call for me. Thank you, dear).
The stick is evenly solid with the right amount of give when pressed gently.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell barnyard, chocolate, coffee, sweetness, spice, floral, and citrus.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell strong barnyard, sweetness, lemon citrus, strong hot pepper, and chocolate.
The cold draw presents flavors of strong hot pepper, chocolate, coffee, malt, molasses, and floral.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is good.
But this cigar is so damn long and heavy, it feels like I have a fish lure in mouth and some fisherman is tugging on it. Man, it’s heavy. I’m bound to drop it early on.
Perfect char line. No imperfections at the start during toasting.

Lots of wonderful flavors: Chocolate, creaminess, red pepper, lots of malt, molasses, raisins, cappuccino, cedar, and fresh fruit.
Now this is exactly how a $15 cigar should start off: With a Bang! Not dally about til the second third.
Strength is a tad over medium body.

4

There is a definitive earthy tobacco element. Like one can taste the soil it was grown in. Ever eat soil? I have. When planting a garden.
Methinks this will be a very long smoke.
The intensity of the flavors tapers off some.
I’ve had this stick in my humidor for a few weeks, I believe. So, it should be good to go for a review. If for nothing else than its possibilities.

I’ve not been kind to most San Cristobal blends. But then I’m not an Ashton fan either. Even if it is a Pepin Garcia blend.
The main flavors are: Creaminess, malts, chocolate, cedar, caramel, and raisins. The malts are Caramel Wheat Malt, Chocolate Malt, Flaked Rye Malt, and Marris Otter Malt. (See malt chart).
The malts are cooking the witch’s brew on this baby.

I was flying for work back in the 90’s and I while I sat waiting for the other passengers to load, I saw the two unlikeliest pair I could imagine boarding the plane: Miles Davis and Ryan O’Neil. They sat a few rows ahead of me and of course I’d heard the stories about Miles. He was a man of silence. And not a conversationalist. But what the fuck. This would never happen again so I pretended to head for the head and stopped and said hello to both men. Ryan said hello and shook my hand. Miles pulled his hat over his eyes and made a sound something like this: “Harrumph.” So much for making contact with one of my musical heroes.

The San Cristobal Ovation perks up big time. Flavor explosion. I’m nearing the second third so actually, I was right early on in this review. I got a taste of what could be and then it flattened out a bit. Now it has come to life.
I suppose a couple months of humidor time might improve it dramatically. But with a Garcia blend, you can usually count on just a few weeks and it’s good to go.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
Strength ratchets down to medium body. The spiciness has almost disappeared. The San Cristobal Ovation needs the oomph of a strong spiciness.
This is not how a $15 cigar should behave. The Fallen Angel Devil’s Ink at either $2.49 or $6.00 was a much better cigar.

5third

There must be a certain class of smokers that smoke Ashtons. Just like the class of people who smoke Davidoff. At least half the blends are mild bodied. It’s as if they target the nonsmoker with an expensive cigar that they can boast about purchasing. Or smoking on the links at some fancy country club that doesn’t allow Jews.

I was actually with my father as a little guy around 10 when one of his customers invited him to his private country club to play golf. The customer was a big time general contractor. And I remember standing next to my dad when he gave his name to the guy in the club house. Then my dad’s customer was taken aside and told NO JEWS!
We actually had to leave. That must have angered my father immensely. The guy that took us became a good friend of my father’s. Invited over to their Malibu beachfront house for BBQ’s, etc. He owned his own twin engine plane and was a pilot. The man was an ex-priest because he had an affair with the woman he would eventually marry. One day my dad came home from work and told me that he was flying his whole family to some luxurious vacation spot and they ran right into a mountain. No survivors.

Back to the San Cristobal Ovation.
This is supposed to be a full bodied stick. What?
And then a few seconds later, it hits medium/full. The flavors do a lifeline jump into the higher nexus.

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On the positive upside, no construction issues and a dead on char line as predicted. OK. So this is a well-made cigar.
But the flavors are riding on a roller coaster. Sips of water really do well by the blend. But this is more of a kinder, gentler blend. While it should be knocking my socks off.

The San Cristobal Ovation finally hits its complexity mark. Perfect balance. Long finish.
The ash likes to hang on for at least an inch. It may last longer but I don’t want it in my lap.

I’ve looked at some of my older reviews and I wrote so much better than I do now. I was much more clever and urbane. Damn it.
I thought that the San Cristobal Ovation had a double cigar band but it ain’t so. The bottom part where it says: “Ovation” has its own connection to the main band but also as I begin to unwrap it, I find that it is one entire band. I find I’m no longer very good at focusing on important things.
So I remove the whole bill board band early. It is gorgeous.

7

Flavors are much better. The finish is just delicious.
Flavors: Creaminess, chocolate, malt, raisins, spice, coffee, cedar, caramel, roasted cashews, toasty, a hint of floral, pistachio, and earthy tobacco.

This is a big improvement. I am giving the San Cristobal Ovation the benefit of the doubt as it probably needs more than a few weeks humidor time. But I’m pretty good at projecting what the cigar will taste like as it approaches the blender’s intent.

A good Veteran’s Day to everyone. My dad was a corporal in the Army in WWII. He spent his time on the front line in Germany, France, and Belgium. After a year or so, he was hit in the chest with a round from a German machine gun nest. Went right through him. I remember seeing him in our pool in Long Beach and how ugly the scar was on both his chest and back. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star three times. He did some terrible things that haunted him to the day he died. And he didn’t want me to go to Viet Nam so he made sure I wasn’t drafted. No disrespect to vets everywhere. He didn’t want me to experience what he did.

Ahhh…new flavors: Green melon, lemon citrus, tomato notes, and green onion. I can make a salad.
The sun is out and now you can see just how oily the wrapper is at the halfway point.

8half

The San Cristobal Ovation is pretty nice blend. But one has certain expectations when you know the stick is $15 a pop. It should make your head spin with complexity and flavors. This is more of a laid back blend.
None of the usual discount stores carry them. And it is too new to make it to Cbid.

There is now way I’d ever spend $15 on this stick. Even if it turns out to be a mind bender with a couple months rest. For $15, I can buy half a box of Fallen Angel Devil’s Ink.
Which reminds me. Thank you Charles Lim. Good guy. He sends me cigars and is also a monthly contributor to my Go Fund Me campaign.

Speaking of which, any chance of me being able to take those expensive brand name Alzheimer’s drugs went out the window. I was getting extra help for my Medicare Part D (Prescriptions). They revoked it because they changed the rules for qualification. So yesterday, I spoke to Cigna, my provider, and found out what I would have to pay for those drugs and it would be hundreds of dollars per month. So, I won’t be able to hold off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s for a bit longer. I’m on the down slide because I have Medicare. And you can’t have Obamacare if you have Medicare. I’m so fucked.

I’m truly digging the San Cristobal Ovation now. Great flavors. Loads of complexity, flavors, balance, and finish.
Strength hits full body. But it is smooth, babies, smooth.
I had to smoke half the cigar to get here.

9

I lose track of time when I have a big cigar. I don’t know how reviewers are able to condense the first third, second third, and last third into a paragraph. I have motor mouth.
But then, my readers are two things: First, they like to read and be entertained. And second, they have come to know me and are interested in my life and previous antics.

And I love you guys for this dedication. My readership has expanded this year exponentially. I get an average of over 7000 hits per day. But I have this special core of readers that probably numbers around 100. You send me emails not expecting me to return them. LOL. But I respond to every email sent to me. And you leave the smartest comments of any other review site. I’ve never had one comment that said: “Good review, dude.” And the 100 are my biggest supporters and well-wishers.
One of these days, I’m going to list the over 130 countries that read me. It’s a real trip to see that list.

A good friend, Eric A. sent me a gift card to be used on Stogie Boys. Eric has been one hell of a human being and so kind and generous with me. Thank you Eric.
But instead of buying cigars, I bought a Humi-Care EH Plus Electronic Humidifier. With the kind gifts of cigars you have sent me I need to use a second humidor. I already have a Cigar Oasis electronic humidifier and I love it to death. So trouble free. Even tells you when the water is low. And all you need is distilled water. Never use that solution.
The only issue I have with these units is that they take up so much room in the humidor. Almost a full third. The main reason is that the cigars shouldn’t come close to the unit as it spews humidified air from the side and not the top so your cigars need to be a couple inches away from the unit. But even still, they are so trouble free and so accurate that they are worth the money.

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And so I called Stogie Boys and spoke to my dear friend, Sheryl King. The big macher at Stogie Boys. What a wonderful chick. We had never spoken so it was like homecoming as they have been a loyal sponsor for over a year. Love you, Sheryl.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.
The San Cristobal Ovation is a really nice blend. Very flavorful. But the transitions are wonky. And I can’t get past the price point. There is absolutely no reason that this cigar should cost $15.00. None. Period.

10third

Construction is superb. No char line touch ups required.
And then the last third seems to be the pinnacle for the blend. The beginning of the cigar showed immense promise. And then faltered.
Now it is back to that early promise.

The spiciness is super strong. The body is full but smooth. And flavors are zooming across my palate like a Pink Floyd laser show.

I’ve reviewed 5 other San Cristobal blends: San Cristobal de la Punta (2008), Revelation, Elegancia, original San Cristobal, and the Seleccion del Sol.

The La Punta was much like this cigar blend. The Revelation was very good. The original blend had some serious construction issues. And the Elegancia was very good as well. But they all had the same things in common: Construction issues, lackluster start, and just overpriced. But then some reviews go back to 2013 when a high priced cigar was $9.00.
In spite of my whining, I really did like the San Cristobal Ovation. I just had high expectations. I recently reviewed the Meridian, the El Centurion H-2K-CT, Padilla La Pilar, Espinosa Especial No. 5, and the Arandoza Defcon. All well under $10 and all superb blends.

If money is no big deal, I’d recommend the San Cristobal Ovation and then put it away for a couple of months. If you are wallet conscious, take a pass.

RATING: 88

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6 replies

  1. Speaking of humidifiers…

    Here’s an offer for two free Boveda cigar humidifier packs. Scroll to the bottom, pick your humidity level (I use 69%) , add to cart, and check out.

    http://www.bovedainc.com/store/try-boveda-offer/

    With the Bovedas I find that you only need about half the number of packs that they recommend. One per sm/med humidor seems to be fine. Also, the packs can be recharged. When you can feel the grit inside the pack, put the pack in a Tupperware container with a dish of water, wait about a week or so, and it’s back to normal. Can’t beat the price!

  2. Thanks for another great review, Katman!

    I like the San Cristobal Revelation and I’ll give this a try – though I’m not spending $15 a pop. I’ll wait for a deal. There will be one eventually…

    Glad to see you grabbed that humidifier. I’ll have to look at getting one since they have the Katman “seal of approval” ; ^ )

    Also glad that the Boveda link worked for you – I took advantage of that too.

    Peace, brother.

    • I got a Cigar Oasis humidifier after hearing Katman liked it. It’s seriously the best investment into my collection I’ve made. So much so, I got another for my second humidor.