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Cigar Review – San Lotano Oval by A.J. Fernandez

San Lotano Oval Robusto (5 1/2x 54)

A.J. Fernandez has become pretty well known for his blending skills, having crafted several cigars for Padilla, Rocky Patel, and Gurkha, among others. The 2nd blend released under A.J.’s own brand, the San Lotano Oval, was recently rated #2 on Cigar Journal’s list of finest cigars of 2011, and has received a lot of acclaim lately from many other notable sources. The blend of the Oval consists of a four-year aged Habano 2000 wrapper, and a mix of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and (as listed on the A.J. Fernandez website) “A.J. Fernandez Secret Filler” tobaccos. Interested to see how this stogie would hold up to the hype it’s received, I procured a San Lotano Oval Robusto to light up for today’s review.

The cigar’s wrapper was a clean creamy brown color, and oily to the touch with just a couple of pronounced veins. The most remarkable feature of its appearance was its unique oval box-pressed shape (hence the name). After clipping the well-applied cap, pre-light draws gave off a generous note of distinct red apple sweetness, which was awesome. I quickly toasted the foot and got this thing smokin’.

Initial flavors were of rich smoked cedar, and a strong baking spice. The smoke was bountiful and creamy through the nice, open draw, and I got a hint of fruity sweetness on the finish. The cigar’s unusual shape rested in my hand nicely with a comfortable feel to it. The burn line was completely even and straight, and as I puffed further and further in I picked up nuances in the flavor including Cinnamon, roasted nuts, and nutmeg. As I neared the 2nd third of the cigar, the baking spice flavors ramped up a bit before taking a back seat to a creamier profile.

In the second phase of this stogie the flavors turned woody and creamy, with a subtle caramel sweetness, and just the right amount of spice on the back of the throat. During this portion of the smoke the cigar seemed to become sweeter, and less spicy with each puff. I had accumulated a firm 2 inch ash, and the burn line on this stick was still unwaveringly straight. I was picking up interesting notes of cocoa and nuts every so often, and found myself really enjoying this cigar.

As I burned my way into the last third, lush notes of cocoa and leather, and some black pepper carried through to the end, making for a long delicious finish. Towards the end I did a quick purge, but the flavors did not budge a bit, instead they continued down the path of great subtlety and complexity. Right to the last draw, this stogie burned clean and even, and tasted excellent. I set down the nub with a newfound respect for A.J. Fernandez.

I can honestly say that the San Lotano Oval brings much more to the table than your average long-filler stogie. This cigar was awesomely complex and satisfying, with a flawless burn and draw that were easily among the best I’ve experienced. From its solid look and feel, to its phenomenal flavor and performance, this stogie really kinda had it all, and is definitely deserving of all the attention it’s been getting. If you’re looking for a hassle-free cigar with deeply complex character and great taste, I strongly recommend the San Lotano Oval. This stellar stogie has joined the ranks of my all-time favorite smokes, and I have to give it a grade of A+. I think anyone with a working set of  taste-buds will agree.

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