9/1/15

San Lotano Oval - Cigar Review

Prologue:
7:35

Tonight I dined with my eldest and her beau. I was well-behaved and did not threaten him, as tempted to, with my switchblade comb. I darned well deserve --

The Cigar:
San Lotano Oval
Habano 2000 wrapper
Nicaraguan binder
Nicaraguan/Honduras/Dominican Republic filler
Toro 6 x 52, pressed

Many a thank you to the sirs at Cigar Guys Radio for this offering.
Pre-light:
Nat Sherman Havana Ovals spring to my mind upon first look at this esteemed AJ Fernandez offering. Gentlepersons, if you must smoke cigarettes -- smoke those.

I digress.

The band brings to mind either a Vaquero’s belt buckle or a topshelf can of very authentically eye-talian tomato paste. I will give it a passing grade on this much: it is embossed and it is thick. Too many bands are flimsy papered inkjet printer’d things that put one in mind of homemade business cards made from templates replete with perforated sides. This is the business card of a hermano whom means, well, business.

The wrapper is supple, not oily. There are veins, but none too egregious and the soft box press is hard enough to smooth. A peek at the foot shows a densely packed offering. Although to the squeeze, it offers little resistance -- too, it is evenly packed as one would expect. Now I shall lift to my schnoz…

Cocoa butter and for a moment I think Palmer’s and wonder if I washed my hands before sitting down to review. I then remember I don’t use Palmer’s. A black but smoothly rich coffee is also present, as is a tobacco so dark, my mind thinks “Nubian.” I like when my mind thinks that, I do. A sniff at the open foot offers the addition of some earthiness and leather. Perhaps the sweet syrup of a dark red or purple fruit.

On the cold pull there is a dark rich tobacco that carries less weight than one might imagine. I find it almost to be peircing. There is immediately a Cuban saltiness on my lips and tongue. Baking chocolate, A french roasted, French pressed, oily dark greasy coffee, a hint of dense molasses, and a glimmer of dark fruit in heavy syrup.

I’m glad I ate first. Although it was off the Applebee’s Kid’s Menu. Too, the bottom slice of bread was soggy, the top stale. I imagine it came up first and sat under the light, waiting. Better timing was required, but who am I to say?

I’m a darned chef, actually. Although Grilled Cheese sammiches were not my professional forte.

Light:
Toasting the foot lets loose notes of fertile earth, hardwoods, cracked black pepper, and burning cigar. A smooth light and a perfect draw. The burn caught quite nicely.

First warm draw is mainly pepper with hardwoods joining in to settle on the palate with a nice dark fruit and subtle salt. There is a dark, dark maybe baking chocolate on the tail end on a finish which is nice in length.

A second draw is retro-haled and I was expecting black pepper, which I did receive -- but was also given a very buttery smell/taste that ended as a mouthfeel of creamery butter. A very long finish, but very kind, too. Powerful, but not brutal. Definitely full-bodied and I wish I’d sent something down after my Kid’s Meal.

A warm walnut comes into play at the third pull and we are well underway, off of a both complex and nuanced refrained powerhouse of an opening.
Act I:
The buttery mouthfeel is a wonderful palate-setter to the flavors which strengthen through the draw and into the finish. Lemme see and chronicle the occurrences: butter, cracked black pepper, cocoa, tobacco which continually stays and darkens, syrupy lush fruits, earthiness and finally a dark chocolate on a quite heavy but not overbearing finish that meets with a touch of damp loamy soil and coarse ground -- dare I say Kosher -- salt. Note that the pepper is a warmth and not a bite.

Good golly, Miss Molly and turn out the ever-lovin’ lights. I tilt my hat forward over my eyes and prepare to ignore anyone who might come by.

The ash is thick and white, like I likes my wiminz and the burn is razor friggin’ even, gentlepersons. The draw offers a perfect amount of resistance. The wrapper grow even more supple -- sensuous -- as it warms in my hand. The shape is something like ergonomic and I almost forget it’s not part of my hand.

Full-bodied and medium strength’d -- but I expect the strength to ramp up shortly. Let the finish go long enough and it returns to buttah, but just try and not take another pull before then. The retro-hale is firmed by black pepper but too is now creamy as cream can be. Chocolate and coffee are coming on strong there.

I put on some Coltrane and hop on board the Blue Train. I’m getting pregnant tonight...

Act II:
The second act starts with a slight hint toward red pepper and the unexpected clumping off of ash to show a very hot burn. All other flavor notes have too purchased a seat on the train.

The smoke output is high-end medium as far as volume and quite potent doses of cocoa and cream waft therein.

The burn quickly fixes its own deviances. A word of advice: as stated, this stick burns HOT and deep. It can easily be over-smoked. Don’t do that.

As the Blue Train rolls on down the track, the flavors somewhat lose their clear delineations and at with the halfway mark coming up at the next station -- I am looking forward to a transition. I pour some black coffee: a Koloa Estate via Kauai, that carries much the same note in a very different manner. I think I’ll do a review and put a link here, after. Please to remind me. It marries especially well to the San Lotano’s finish.

Meanwhile, no transition yet, and if it isn’t to be -- I’m cool with that. The flavors now swirl about and take their respective turns at brief prominences. At two separate moments now, tunneling has threatened but has been deftly avoided. This is not a beginner’s stick. Pacing and timing here play as an important a role as in Thoroughbred Turf Racing.

Jazz is a pairing and also a reminder. Sometimes it’s the notes you don’t play...the pulls you don’t take...that make the magic. My hat is so low on my head now that I can’t see my Chromebook’s ash and soot-filmed screen. I wish I had a nice Cream Sherry -- and I does indeedy.

The burn slows now and my skirt hitched itself up, I swear!

Notes are now of a deep richness to the point of damp earthy tobacco that seems fully Nicaraguan in every flavorful sense. It is not one dimensional because the leaf, itself, is not. The DR portions chime in and combine to make this a very Cuban-esque offering. The saltiness has come on more at the finish and has overtaken the pepper. I no longer detect fruits. The creaminess has further warmed yet is at the same strength. As Act III looms nigh, a nice strength goes almost to full.

Something I always watch, but seldom write: the moisture in my mouth is perfect. Not too dry, not too wet. I remind myself of my cup o’ joe -- then allow myself to again forget it. I forget, too, the Sherry.

Act III:
A slight retouching of the light is required on the onset to overcome an odd seam. Construction as a whole remains intact. Ash is dropped often and is surprisingly powdery. The finish shortens noticeably. The wrapper dries a tad and flakes minimally.

The stick seems to be mellowing and the Blue Train hums along the tracks. Miles get swallowed up underneath as I sink lower and lower into my seat.

Notes:
This offering is an exquisite showcasing of its leaf. AJ Fernandez here plays the role of Phil Jackson. Winning accolades by simply letting a superstar ply his trade. He does not tinker with mechanics and foul up the inherent brilliance he is at the helm of.

I was seduced and the main thrill was that seduction. The actual love making was...nice. Very nice indeed, for having taken place in a passenger train toilet.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t left wanting a touch more from this cigar. Too, I’d be lying on the floor if’n I sunk any lower.

My, the lips and tongue do tingle at the nub.

Pairings:
Cream Sherry, A dark coffee -- black no sugar, Jazz with many unplayed notes, a wide-brimmed hat to enforce solitude.

Final Grade: B+
Epilogue:
9:19

I’m somehow back on my porch and nibbling at a graham cracker. It’s quiet mostly and chilly. I think I rode all the way to the end of summer and my cardigan seconds that notion.

It’s my maybe seventh autumn in the Pacific Northwest, and life could be a lot worse. I can say this with all certainty, because for a good while it was. I spot a bright star through an overcast sky and remember how my youngest son said two years ago that his older brother is there now. Hopping from star to star.

Thanks for reading. Now go hug someone and hold them there longer than you normally might.

L’chaim.