San Cristobal Quintessence | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 52
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $8.75



Today we take a look at the San Cristobal Quintessence.

From the Ashton Cigar web site:
“Celebrated cigar-maker Jose “Pepin” Garcia embraces his remarkable talents as a world-class blender with San Cristobal Quintessence. Drawn from a luscious Ecuador Habano wrapper and the finest, premium aged binder and filler tobaccos grown on the Garcia family estates, Quintessence is patiently rolled in Pepin’s immaculate factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, in four classic formats. Captivating notes of molasses, coffee and black pepper intrigue the palate with a placid sweetness. Hints of dried fruit, figs and sugarcane gather in wonderful proportion to culminating spices. Cool, civil aromas emanate throughout a medium to full-bodied finish. San Cristobal Quintessence exemplifies Pepin’s rise to prominence with tasteful indulgence.”

Wonderful. Ashton did my review for me….but watch…I will only taste barnyard and earthwoodleather.

Robusto: 5.5 x 50 $8.50
Epicure: 6 x 52 $8.75
Majestic: 6 x 60 $9.50
Belicoso: 6.5 x 54 $8.95

The oily wrapper has the color of chocolate gingerbread. It is extremely toothy with a rock solid feel. I have concerns about the draw as I can’t make a dent in the cigar with pressure from my fingers.
The triple cap is nicely executed but lumpy and bumpy.
Seams are exposed and there is no shortage of veins; both big and small.

From the shaft, I can smell caramel, spiciness, malts, roasted coffee, dark cocoa, cream, honey, dried fruit, cedar, and cinnamon.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell red pepper, black cherry, honey, cream, cedar, coffee, black cherries, smoky and toasty.

The cold draw presents flavors of red pepper, hickory, chocolate, coffee, fruit, cedar, honey, and marzipan.

Despite the solid nature of the cigar, the draw is smooth and without issues.

The San Cristobal Quintessence starts off slowly with only a small handful of elements: Very spicy red pepper and cinnamon, cream, malts, coffee, and dried fruit.
Yet ever so quickly, the blend begins the complexity usually found a little further down the line for any blend.

Strength is a medium+.

It throws me a little seeing the blend become complex so soon. The complexity melds flavors together so they are greater than just one group of flavors. It is the sum of the whole.

I can taste all these different components but they are more difficult to isolate than I expected. I guess that’s a good thing if you are on your patio and just enjoying a cigar. Much harder if your job is to dissect every flavor and nuance.


There is a savory intensity that is a mix of several flavors: Smoky meat, dumplings, and roasted nuts.

The burn line is perfect with a 1” long ash. I’ve tried to carefully dislodge it so it doesn’t decide the time to disengage is while it is in a perfect vertical line above my naughty bits. But the bugger won’t come off unless I use one of my S&M devices.

As a fan of Pepin Garcia, one of the things this man did for me was introduce me to really spicy cigars…especially at the beginning of the cigar.
But not this time. It started off strong and the peppers have now nearly dissipated into non-existence. My bet is its return will come in the last third. I’m usually wrong about my predictions so we shall see.

Creaminess has gone AWOL. It is, now, basically, a blend of savory, sweet, (malts have jumped the fence as well), and mocha java.

I like the description of the Garcia factory as “immaculate.” As opposed to other factories that have floors covered in vomit and feces? I thought the use of that word was to satisfy those among us that are deeply concerned and obsessive about cleanliness and use Purell 50 times per day.

The San Cristobal Quintessence isn’t a bad cigar nor is it a great cigar.
Transitions disappear. The complexity settles down and recedes.

Sonovabitch. I’ve had this stick for a while and I did not expect it to slide off the edge of the cliff so soon…especially with such an impressive start.
Ashton products, generally speaking, take a lot of humidor time. Maybe a couple months is insufficient.
Then maybe it is just a slow starter. I’m trying to be optimistic.

Smoke time is 35 minutes.

The San Cristobal Quintessence is perking up. Flavors are returning. My hopes are that transitions kick in along with that early complexity.

In the most vulgar fashion, I would call this blend a prick tease. It draws you in seductively at the start then leaves you with blue balls.

Remember junior high or high school when you first got to dry hump? I do.

I get my very first taste of substantial malts. Creaminess returns. Red pepper becomes black pepper. An array of nuttiness reemerges. Sweetness shows up in the form of dried fruit (can’t taste the Ashton’s figs yet), I taste honey but not molasses, sweet tea, cedar, cinnamon toothpicks, and a large dose of espresso.

OK. Seems we are back in the saddle again. That momentary lapse of character had me ready to start cursing and swearing. Then, again, this is one of the least expensive Ashton San Cristobal products. I figured this was an attempt to lure in new customers that just didn’t like the typical Ashton price points.


I love that the San Cristobal Quintessence has picked up the pace of its spiciness. I say it over and over but I am a spice junkie. I went to AA for this.

Strength is medium/full.

I gave the $15.00 San Cristobal Ovation a rating of only 88. I gave the $13.00 San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta low marks. I gave the 2014 $7.00 San Cristobal Revelation very high marks. I gave the 2013 $7.00 San Cristobal Elegancia high marks. And I gave the 2013 $8.00 San Cristobal Seleccion del Sol low marks.
I believe I see a pattern.

And the San Cristobal Quintessence is in step with that same pattern.
It’s good…then not so good…then it’s good…etc.

I’m a big fan of Pepin Garcia but I believe he just can’t seem to get this series of blends on the straight and narrow path.

This blend debuted at the 2016 IPCPR trade show.
I found exactly one written review of this blend. And a couple video reviews which I never watch. Those things put me to sleep.

So why is this? Betcha’ you know. It’s a clunker…and the Big Guy reviewers didn’t want to disappoint the manufacturer and slip out of their pockets.

The one review I read was worthless in terms of a real critic doing his thing.
The San Cristobal Quintessence has been around 5 months and just one review? Lol.

I should have checked this out first. But then it is my self-appointed duty to spare you from the disappointments I endure…and save you a few shekels you can spend more wisely.

The halfway point is upon me after an hour.

The San Cristobal Quintessence is laying there like a flounder…or like my first wife did on our honeymoon in 1971.

Yeah, I like telling you the truth…but it is a bummer that I must do this. I much prefer to rave about a great cigar rather than explain why you shouldn’t buy some fucking dog turd.

Again, I have a great story for the end of the review. X-Rated rock n roll. But I’m going to include it anyway. Fuck it.

The San Cristobal Quintessence has gone completely dormant and must be huddled up with some grizzly hibernating for the winter.

The strength is reduced to medium.

No complexity. No transitions. Pepin Garcia…you should hang your head in shame on this one.
I’m not even going to bother with a halfway cigar photo.

Trust me; the after-review story will lighten things up.

I don’t care if the next San Cristobal blend comes with a rubber vagina, I ain’t trying it.
Every damn online store in the world carries this cigar. No shortages. I wonder why.

Smoke time is a very long one hour 20 minutes. I’m dying on the vine here.

Like a broken record, the San Cristobal Quintessence perks up once again. If I ever meet the owner of Ashton, I am going to punch him in the ‘nads.

Here is the revised list of the zombie SCQ: Creaminess, black pepper, dried fruit, malt, coffee, cedar, and toasty.
Construction is near perfect as I’ve only had to rectify the burn line a couple times. More for a nice photo than structurally necessary.


Isn’t it amazing how a really good cigar disappears so quickly leaving you wanting more. A crap stick makes time slow down and causes a rift in the space time continuum.

If this was a $4 stick, I’d have taken a different tact. It still would be a dog turd but I could say you get what you pay for. Methinks that the cigar experience with the San Cristobal Quintessence would show no change if you chose to smoke it ROTT or gave it 5 months of humi time.

I awaken each morning anticipating a review; happy and with high hopes. Smoking this buffalo hide ruins my morning.

When I publish this review, I shall climb back into bed and weep uncontrollably until there are no tears left to shed.

ZZ Top is playing on my classic rock TV channel. I saw them live in a shit bar in Anaheim in 1971. No beards. Just matching 3 piece Alexander Haig suits. They had to play their set in the afternoon and there couldn’t have been more than a dozen people there.

I’m stalling, I know.

Flavors disappear again. What the fuck!
I’m now waiting for this joke cigar to explode in my face.
That’s OK. I can sue Ashton for the extensive plastic surgery I will need.
And now the extant flavor profile returns. What the fuck!

Full of powerful black pepper. And the long list of flavors earlier described in this review. It’s good to know that if you get sucker punched by this blend that the last 1-1/2” is the best part.

I’ve attached clamps from a car battery to my testicles so that I can keep the angst close to my chest.

I’m not going to waste anymore of your time, or mine.

RATING: 22.6 Protection Status


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5 replies

  1. Thanks for the warning on that San Cristobal, what a shame -it has a pretty band. On the other hand, the rock ‘n roll story was
    PS, What cigar did you redeem yourself with after the Quintessence?

  2. I never get the point of San Cristobal, especially when you have decent La Aroma de Cuba lines.

  3. Your best story ever, Phil! Makes up for the shitty cigar.

  4. I take weekends off now. So I will decide this weekend. Now I get up on Saturday and Sunday mornings and pick a nice cigar and smoke it while sipping coffee. I like that.

  5. Great review and story as always. I’m a fan of the revelation so I gave this a try about 2 weeks ago and had the same experience you had. Really happy I’m not alone on that (I couldn’t find any reviews either). You’re one of my favorite reads on the internet- mixing intelligence, insight, and humor. All the best to you and your family this year.

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