The Smoking Gun Cigar Review October 28, 2016
San Cristobal Quintessence
Epicure (5 x 52)
I was recently invited to attend a launch event for the new San Cristobal Quintessence. This new cigar was making its first appearance in Arizona at Cigar King, in Scottsdale. Being a big fan of the San Cristobal Revelation, I was very excited to try this cigar. I was given the chance to smoke one at the shop. I took notes on this one and took a second one home for a later smoke. Here’s what I found:
A little history:
The San Cristobal brand is part of the Ashton line-up. It was blended by one of the most celebrated cigar-manufacturers of our time, Jose “Pepin” Garcia. As I mentioned earlier, this is a new blend within the line, called Quintessence. It seems to be a fitting name. The word quintessence means the most perfect example of something or a prime example of quality and class. (Very much like me!) (That was a joke!)
The San Cristobal brand was introduced in 2007 and the Revelation was launched in 2013. So, this is the first new blend they have introduced in several years.
OK. I’ll list the questions and give an answer for each—based on my personal smoking experience:
What are you smoking?
San Cristobal Quintessence – Epicure (5 x 52)
Who makes it?
It is a Don Pepin blend, made by Ashton Cigars.
Where’s it from?
It is produced at My Father Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua.
What other sizes are available?
The cigar is available in Robusto (5 x 50), Epicure (6 x 52), Majestic (6 x 60) and Belicoso (6.5 x 54).
How much does it cost?
The retail price of this cigar is around $8.75. The other sizes range in price from $8.50 to $9.50, according to the size.
How well is it constructed?
It is a beautifully constructed and wrapped cigar. (But, what else would you expect from Ashton and Pepin)? The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is a nice medium-brown colored wrapper with small veins throughout. The cap is finished well. And, (although it isn’t really part of construction), I would like to mention this cigar’s band. With its colorful bird and flowers, it is a beautiful and nostalgic example of a premium cigar band. Even if I didn’t know anything about the blend or production, the band, alone, would make me want to try it! Well done, San Cristobal.
What’s the blend (or, at least, the wrapper)?
The cigar is a Nicaraguan tour-de-force, with an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, over binder and filler tobaccos grown by the García family at their Nicaraguan farms.
How did it light?
How’s the draw?
The draw was just right—even, but a little tighter than some. (That’s what I like!)
How does it burn?
The burn was consistent and even throughout.
Is there a predominate flavor/taste?
When I first sniffed the wrapper, I noticed hints of leather, mild barn smells, some sweetness (which I think was vanilla). The foot, however, was much sweeter and had a caramel latte note. The dry draw was mild and sweet(ish). On the first draw, there was a definite sweetness with a bitter note (I mean that in a good way), and mild pepper.
The flavor very quickly settled in to grassy with hints of green pepper (like a good merlot). The vanilla was also present, but it was more like vanilla extract (not sweet, just vanilla).
Let’s talk about flavor profiles for a minute. There are four recognized flavor preceptors on our tongues: sweet (which we sense on the front of the tongue), bitter (which we experience on the back of the tongue), salty (which is at the sides in front) and acidic (which is at the sides in back). Additionally, in a more Eastern philosophy, you can add a fifth, Umami.
A common cigar blending technique will combine tobaccos that have very different characteristics that will each “light up” different flavor preceptors on the tongue. This way, you get a balanced and multi-leveled smoking experience. It’s like fireworks of flavor going off all over your mouth. The next time you smoke a cigar, stop and think about what part of your tongue is being stimulated. Is it the front (sweet), sides (salty), back (bitter) or back sides (acidic). You’ll start to know your pallet better and will start tasting cigars differently.
Did it change as you smoked it?
There were some definite changes in flavor as I smoked. In the second third I experienced more grassy notes and pepper, but the sweetness was still there. (It was like putting dried fruit in a savory dish – there, but not prominent).
The final third was much spicier with more pepper and a little more robust. Although, it was still well-balanced and rich. It stayed that way to the finish. It was an all-around tasty, Nicaraguan profile cigar.
How would you describe its strength: mild, medium, or strong?
I think it’s more than a medium, and starts heading toward full-bodied at the end. It was never overly strong, but was pleasantly potent.
Would you smoke it again?
Yes. Now that they are becoming available nationally, I will!
Should I try it?
Most definitely, yes! If you already like the San Cristobal Revelation, or you like a fuller-bodied Nicaraguan, this one might be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t be put off by it being stronger, you’ll still enjoy it. In a conversation with an Ashton sales rep., we decided it was like “a Revelation on steroids!”
Do you have an extra that you’ll give me?
Do you have one to give me? Look at your local brick and moral retailers. Ask your local tobacconist. Order on-line. If you find them, give them a try. If you find very many of them, send some to me!
I don’t want to plagiarize, so I’m going to give the credit to Ashton Cigars for this quote from their website: “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.” (http://ashtoncigar.com/cigars/san-cristobal-cigars/san-cristobal-quintessence).
I don’t think I could come close to saying that in such a poetic way! It’s a great cigar. You should try it. And, you should thank local cigar store owners, like Mitchel Hirsh of Cigar King in Scottsdale, AZ, for supporting new cigars and blends. If the FDA has its way, we may not see anything new for a long, long time—if at all.
Well, that’s the end of another Smoking Gun review. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through this page. I’m always happy to answer questions or tell you about what I’ve been smoking. Also, if you liked, appreciated or hated my review, let me know. I want to be a resource for the everyday cigar smoker. You don’t have to be an expert, you just need an hour or so to enjoy a good cigar.
And, remember: don’t let other people tell you what to smoke. If you like it, smoke it!
The product photo was taken from the Ashton Cigars web-site. (http://ashtoncigar.com/cigars/san-cristobal-cigars)