Ashton San Cristobal Guajiro

Reviews35 Comments on Ashton San Cristobal Guajiro

Ashton San Cristobal Guajiro

Of all the cigars being introduced at this past RTDA, the San Cristobal may have been the cigar I was most looking forward to trying. And try as I might, I had no luck in securing a sample. So when these guys went on sale in a nearby cigar shop I beat feet over to pick a few up for a review.

So what’s the deal with the San Cristobal anyway? Well here’s the scoop. Ashton has owned the “San Cristobal” name since the 1980’s and it wasn’t until they partnered with the now omnipresent Don Pepin Garcia that they were able to produce a cigar they felt worthy of the long-held name. The end result of the partnership is a dark, triple-capped Nicaraguan puro that’s available in six sizes and in boxes of 22.

Of course the question is, does it live up to the hype and, more importantly, my expectations? Let’s take a look.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6.625 x 46
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: $10.15


Pigtail or flower? You make the call.

The Pre-Smoke
What makes the Guajiro size unique, and part of the reason I selected it, is the pigtail cap. But on closer inspection, it I found it looks less like a pigtail and more like a stubby ponytail or maybe a little brown flower. But as this is the first part of the cigar to disappear, I didn’t spend a lot of time debating it with myself. Another factor in my selection was the smaller ring gauge. Big, fat cigars have been all the rage for a while, so a skinny churchill (borderline lonsdale) was a nice change of pace.

In the course of discussion of the appearance of the cigar, we can’t overlook the band. With a giant red parrot spreading its wings over a couple of golden coins over top of an antiqued map, it looks like it was designed to poke out of the pocket of a Hawaiian shirt at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As luck would have it, I enjoy both Hawaiian shirts and Jimmy Buffett tunes.


Good looking band, bad looking pinky ring.

The cigar wrapper itself is dark, oily and a bit rugged looking, sporting prominent veins on the surface and even more just under the wrapper. I also found the cigar to be fairly firm, but with a bit more give than I expected. The feel was consistent throughout the cigar. And I didn’t notice any obvious flaws in the wrapper anywhere.

After clipping the pig-tail cap with my flamboyantly-red Xikar I took a cold taste. I detected oily earthiness and, surprisingly some salt in my cold draw.

The Burn
The San Cristobal has an attractive, but not spectacular burn. The ash was nice and white, but slightly flaky. The burn line was nice and thin, but at times was lopsided enough to require a touch-up. The draw was consistently good, but got a little tight toward the end of the cigar. So over all, a fairly good burn, but nothing to get excited about.


A bit flaky, a bit uneven

Well, maybe I spoke too soon. In both cigars I smoked for this review, I did get a noticeable tar buildup in the head around a third of the way through, give or take. In each case I wiped the tar away from the head and it didn’t return. Though it didn’t seem to have too much of a negative impact on the flavor, it was a little disappointing.

The Flavor
While the cigar’s burn may have been nothing particularly noteworthy, the flavor profile certainly was. By the end of the first third, I had the feeling like I had smoked an entire cigar-worth of flavors already! My notes for this section are easily twice the size of those for most my other cigar reviews. But I’ll try to keep it reasonably brief.

In the first third, the flavor made transitions between creamy leather, dry wood and spice over and over again. Along the way I detected a bit of salt, coffee and some earthiness. The palate was similar in the second third, but with a small pocket of sweet almond at the beginning, a bit of nougat and sweet chocolate further along. By the beginning of the final third, cinnamon started to appear, and the leather flavor became fuller and a bit spicier. The cigar really seemed to come into its own in the final third.

If this sounds a little confusing or overwhelming, you’re lucky, I’ve really condensed the experience! This flavor profile was both complex, subtle and continually on the move.

The Price
Considering the price tag on the VSG and the ESG, I’m happy to see the price tag for this cigar well under $15. I think ten and change is a pretty good deal.

The Verdict
I’m pretty sure I liked the cigar. Sounds like a pretty non-committal verdict, huh? Well, the problem is I spent so much time taking notes I didn’t feel like I got a chance to really enjoy it. But when I reviewed the flavor notes for this review, I kept being reminded of things I enjoyed. I loved the end of the light, sweet almond flavor of first third and the beginning of the second. And I found the final third to be the best part of the cigar, with fuller, spicier flavors.

On the other hand, I was disappointed by the tarry buildup. It affected the flavor more in the first cigar than the second, but it wasn’t bad enough to ruin either experience. I didn’t have a chance to smoke it for this review, but I also have a Clasico (5 x 50) that I plan to smoke for comparison. I’m curious to see if it has the same problem with tar. Additionally, it’ll be fun to just smoke this cigar without taking notes!

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

The Cigar in Action
The tower of burn, back by popular demand!





enjoying cigars since 1997

35 thoughts on “Ashton San Cristobal Guajiro

  1. Great review, Brian.
    I haven’t been able to pick one of these up but i’ll be looking
    in to that soon, I hope.
    Man I was hoping for a video review on this cigar.
    Have you got a camera yet, lol?

  2. Nice review, Brian. It’s funny because every time I look at one of these I wonder why Ashton didn’t put their name anywhere on the cigar. I’ve had a couple and they’re not bad so far.

  3. Good review. I agree on all counts except regarding the “tarry build-up”. What were the symptoms of that? I must have missed something.

  4. Thanks Lou Dog,
    Nope, I haven’t picked up that camera yet. When I do, I’ll do a supplemental video for this cigar!

    Good catch Ricky!
    I didn’t even notice the Ashton name isn’t anywhere on the cigar! You have to assume that was intentional, the question is why. Presumably, they want this cigar to stand on it’s own.

    Thanks Ace,
    Sorry about that, I did take a picture of the tarry buildup, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out. I’m not sure yet what caused it, and the symptoms were pretty mild. I didn’t keep the cigars in an overly or underly humid environment, nor did I smoke the cigars too fast. (I tend to be a slow smoker.)

    In the first cigar, it made the cigar take on a harsher, pungent flavor for a brief time that wasn’t at all pleasant. I dabbed it away with a paper towel and that fixed it. It also happened in the second cigar, but to an lesser extent. It was more of a minor annoyance and a disappointment than anything else. I suspect I may have gotten a couple of cigars with a bum leaf in them.

  5. Probably because the Ashton brand is partially owned by the Fuente family but this cigar isn’t made by them… similar to La Aroma Cuba brand.

    Brian,

    It’s tough doing reviews… that’s why I stopped, it turned my cigar smoking into a bit of work which sucked.

    Nice review though.

  6. also,,, I didn’t realise these were so pricey. Personally, I would imagine that Pepin’s best blends are gonna have his name on them,,, so far my favorite are his Black labels.

  7. Brian,

    The tar build up tends to happen when you constrict the hole in which the smoke passes. I tend to see it more often on cigars that I punch cut rather than the ones I cut or clip, but it happens from time to time.

    Here is an extreme example that I ran into with a Perdomo Slow Aged Lot 829


    Tar Buildup

  8. Wow Walt, yuck!
    What you say makes sense. The cigar with the biggest buildup problem (and man, it was MILD compared to your Perdomo), did have a slightly tighter draw. But I wouldn’t say either had a particularly tight draw, and I don’t think I was too stingy with my cut…

    Thanks Jabba and Lou Dog,
    Yeah reviews can be tough, so I usually try to smoke at least one without taking any notes. Just sit back and enjoy it. With everything going on, I didn’t get to have that third one before the review! And the finished review is pretty satisfying!

  9. I’ve only tried a punch a few times and hated it.

    I’ve only had that tar thing happen once… and the draw was very restricted in that case as well. I’ve heard it happens more with stronger young cigars but I’m not sure if that is fact or fiction.

  10. I go back and forth with the punch cut. I would say the majority of the time I go with the standard cut. I use the punch generally with cigars that I know will have a looser draw. For instance, I usually punch the Gran Habano Corojo #5 churchill. I find it’s just tastier that way, and it happens to be the way it was introduced to me.

    That reminds me, I need to find my old V-cutter. I want to play around with that again. I know Jerry uses it a lot with his cigars…

  11. Nice review and great discussion guys.

    Actually, I think Jabba hit the nail on the head. Every San Cristobal I’ve smoked so far has a tannic youth flavor which isn’t obtrusive but can lead to tarring, especially in a narrow ring guage. Even the Fabuloso (torpedo) at 6.125 x 52 tasted very young to me. We just have give these sticks a little time my friends. Just a little time.

    cheers

  12. I love the discussion this post has generated!

    I think it would be a worthwhile exercise to revisit these after they spend a little time resting in the humidor. Of course, since they’re new, there’s quite the rush to be among the first to smoke and review them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were considerably better with only a month of time resting.

  13. The Ashton San Cristobals are fairly hard to get and have had a mixed response. I haven’t heard much at all in the way of them tarring though! This can be caused by a single bad leaf and it’s a shame a good cigar can be ruined so easily. I agree with Brian though, it’s likely they would be better after being in the humidor a while.

  14. Thats one yummy picture you posted there Walt of that tar build up. Luckily I had dinner awhile ago. I wonder if the same thing could happen with a v-cut? I use a v-cut a lot but never even thought to look for this.

    Good review Hewitt! The band is kind of weird with a bird on it. I had a few of the San Critobal (Cuban) up in Toronto but don’t remember what the band looked liked.

  15. Brian, excellent review. Thus far I have not seen a San Cristobal in a shop, so I have not yet tried one. When I can find one I surely will give it a go! With regard to the tar build up with cigars that are punch cut, I have only seen that phenomenon with cigars that were high in ligero (LFD) or had a lot of oily Nicaraguan filler (La Aroma). I have not punched a Camacho Triple Maddy yet – not sure how that would work… I had one La Aroma last year that I punched, and it was pretty much exactly like the pic Jerry posted above. After about 10 minutes, it was unsmokable due to the tar build up. So, for me, I am now a “clipper” on those type cigars. My 2¢.

    CD

  16. San Cristobal is one of the best ciagrs that I smoked this year. If you disagree visit my forum to express your opinion.

    In any case, punch cuts destroy the cigar. As mentioned previously, it narrows the draw and collects the tar. A straight cut is the best way to smoke, taste and enjoy a cigar.

    Great conversation!

  17. let me say. i have had a couple of these san cristobals, and the parrot will bring a little of the sea sickness, or scurvy, or what-have-you. i love the construction, and the wrapper, and even the pirate rum drinking label (who would have thought i would go for a two inch gold laden pirate treasure knock off). but these san cristobals are intense. i smoked one of these after an h.upmann ceder and lost it. i went pale, started salivating un controllably, and got the sweats. i know you are thinking, he was on something else, but i was not. this cigar made me nautious. i tried the second after being wary, although the san cristobal only gave me partial side effects. so i offer this as a warning beware of the parrot.

  18. the follow up…
    i am putting the rest of these guys in hibernation in my humidor for at least a year to see if i can get the intensity to chill a bit before smokage.

  19. Enjoyed the review.
    Time seems to have mended the faults you experienced. I enjoyed both the Classico yesterday and the Monumento today without any tar build-up or flaky ash. The Monumento proved the more outstanding in that it allowed me to enjoy the complex smoke for a full half hour beyond the Classico experience. Both proved as complex as you accurately and artfully described. Flaky ash may result from “dry” cigars. I haven’t experienced flakiness with cigars that have been humidified between 68% and 70%.

    San Cristobal has recently joined the Padron Anniversary Maduros, RP Old World Maduros and Oliva Serie V as my current favorites.

  20. I smoked my first San Cristobal in Israel. I was completely amazed at the flavor right from the first draw. I had to do a double take. I thought it wouldn’t last, but the cigar was great all the way through. There I sat overlooking the old city wall enjoying my San Cristobal. I loved the nutty mild flavor.

    The shop told me that it was a cuban cigar. Is that true?

    Great discussion.

  21. Adrian,
    If the band on your San Cristobal was colorful and featured a Parrot, then it was the Nicaraguan version. Ashton picked up the name for distribution in the United States.

    There is a Cuban version, however it is not made by the same company. It looks and tastes nothing like this variety of the cigar.

  22. Walt,

    Thanks for the info. I kept the label and it is San Cristobal de la Habanos. It is a brown label produced by habanos SA in Cuba. I just found their website at habanos.com OK, so here is my dillema. I live in the US and it is difficult for me to get this cigar. Is there a cigar sold in the US that is close to this smoke?

    Adrian

  23. Thanks Dr Getz,
    I think this cigar would probably be in my regular rotation if I weren’t so busy chasing down the latest new smoke on the market! (And it doesn’t help that I’m completely out of them right now. LOL)

    Adrian,
    Wow, now that is one heck of a smoking experience! Unfortunately, as it is a Cuban, you will have some trouble reproducing the experience here in the states. I’m not familiar with the Cuban equivalent (though I’d like to be!) so I won’t be able to advise you there. But if you find a domestically available smoke that is close, let us know!

    Agreed, Lee Early, this is a smoke people should try.

  24. For what it’s worth, I had a fat robusto recently and it burned so well that the ash didn’t drop until halfway through the cigar. Also, I was outside walking!
    Nothing remarkable happening here, flavor-wise. It’s a good, medium body, medium flavor cigar with some dank earthy notes and tones associated with maduros. Some coffee notes and a little soil and leather. Not bad at all. Definitely in the less spicy/more earthy maduro category, which I like.

  25. I have smoked a fair number of these over the last year in the churchill size (forgot the name) and I’ve truly liked all of them with the last one being aged in the humi for almost a year and a half being one of the best. This stick is complex and mine have impressed me by burning about an hour and a half which is hard to beat when you’re enjoying flavors that seem to jostle for attention like this one does. It has to be my favorite stick of which I know Don Peppin Garia has been involvled with. These are cheap, but they live up to what a super premium stick should taste like IMO and the long burn cements that impression.

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