A.J. Fernandez’s San Lotano is a line of cigars that has been a long time coming. I was introduced to it in its pre-release form at the 2009 trade show. But you could also say the San Lotano is a long time returning. Because once upon a time, in the sepia-toned pre-Castro past, Fernandez’s grandfather produced a popular Cuban cigar by the same name, so the press release tells us:
With a rich history, San Lotano dates back to Cuba’s pre-Castro era where the brand was among the most popular with traditional Cuban cigar makers. Retired for decades, the line is being reintroduced by A.J. Fernandez whose grandfather first started the brand in San Luis, Cuba. San Lotano is made entirely by hand in the Fernandez factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, and is available in three enticing variations encompassing Habano, Connecticut and Maduro wrappers.
A.J. Fernandez is no stranger in the cigar industry. As a third generation cigar maker, born in Cuba, Fernandez is well known for being one of the only cigar makers in the industry to still employ many of the oldest traditions and secrets that have earned him an unmatched reputation among cigar aficionados. When asked about the importance of the brand, A.J. says, “San Lotano has been a project many years in the making for me, and it is made to honor the tradition of cigar making that I learned from my father and my father’s father. The blends are extremely rich, flavorful and are the culmination of my family’s knowledge which has been accumulated over the last century.”
The reincarnation of the San Lotano is available in three blends, Habano, Connecticut and a box-pressed Maduro, and will come in boxes of 20 in four sizes: Churchill (7 x 52), Torpedo (6 1/2 x 52), Toro (6 x 52) and Robusto (5 x 52). For the purposes of this review, I’ve selected the Habano Robusto. Let’s see if this blend is a fitting tribute to the original.
Size: 5 x 52
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Source: Purchased by reviewer
As you can see in the pictures, the San Lotano Habano is a great looking smoke. Something about name and the earthy tones of the band conjure up images of sunsets in the wild west, at least in my mind anyway. It definitely has a unique look that should help it stand out in the humidor.
The Brazilian wrapper is dark enough to be called a maduro, and on the sticks I selected for this review, flawless: smooth, few, mostly fine veins and a nice oily sheen. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a crack or a patch on any of these I smoked prior to this review either.
Pawing the stick over looking for glitches to report, I noticed it felt a little heavy in the hand, and only slightly softer than a rock. The wrapper scent varied a little from stick to stick, a funky compost and either a chocolate or an earthy aroma. The cold draw was easier than I expected, and in one stick tasted like hard candy and anise.
Much like the Pre-Smoke, the San Lotano Habano gets high marks in terms of combustion. It took a little extra toasting time to get burning properly, but once it was lit, it was smooth sailing. When the burn line wasn’t razor straight, it was very close, and the well-formed ash seemed nearly as solid as the leaf was before burning. The impressively long ash shown in the Tower of Burn hit the ashtray with an audible thud when it finally dropped, and remained completely intact.
The san Lotano got to an impressive start with rich buttery-feeling cream, roasted nuts and spice. As the cigar warmed up, I noted caramel, coffee bean, chocolate, more spice and a meaty wood, all in interesting combinations.
Around the beginning of the second third, I started to pick up a lingering medley of creamy vanilla sweetness and cinnamon that brings to mind the word “velvety”. In this third, the savory roasted nuts were gone, and in their place were meaty coffee been and cedar flavors. There was also a consistent mild smokey quality to this third.
As the cigar burned into the final third, pepper appeared and charry cedar grew more prominent as the body kicked it up a notch or two. In the background, meat and dark chocolate continued to played a part.
If I was given an unbanded San Lotano Habano, I would have guessed it retailed for around ten bucks. It looks, feels and smokes like quality craftsmanship. It’s just a great value for money.
The San Lotano Habano is another one of those sticks that seem to get better every time I smoke it. After burning a number of them over the past month, I started thinking about boxes instead of five packs. And now the focused attention of a review confirms it for me, the San Lotano Habano is box-worthy. The immaculate burn, the rich and involved flavors and the really reasonable price have garnered this smoke guaranteed seating in my perpetually overfilled humidor.
If you happen find the San Lotano Habano sitting on the shelf in your local shop, give it a shot. In fact, I recommend burning one while you’re there (provided the it’s still legal to do so), because the chances are you’ll buy more before you leave.
Liked It: Yes, box-worthy.
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.