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CA Review Panel: San Lotano Dominicano Cigar Review (Video)
The San Lotano Dominicano Cigars Back Story
What if you didn’t have to choose between the even-keeled temperament of Dominican tobaccos and the boldness of those found in Nicaragua? For many, that answer is found in medium-bodied blends that sacrifice a little bit of each. San Lotano Dominicano neither chooses sides nor compromises. It’s simply crafted to be the best of both worlds.
The cigar is the product of two master blenders: AJ Fernandez and “Jochy” Blanco of Aging Room and La Galera fame. For those of you who don’t know, AJ is one of the hottest of the new breed of cigarmakers to rise to fame in the past decade. And in the timeline of the cigar industry, 10 years is basically an overnight success. Jochy, however has found his success not in the limelight, but as an ever-important force in the background, like Bernie Taupin has been for Elton John. He has been the catapult that many boutique blenders have built their legacy upon…companies like La Flor Dominicana, Villiger, and Kristoff – just to name a few.
Usually, when there is a duo working on a cigar together, one blends and the other supplies the tobaccos for it. Unlike many of the industry’s collaborations, both AJ and Jochy have farms and factories, and tobaccos supplied by each are used in the blend. On paper, it sounds like an interesting ride, but we’ll let the cigar do the talking.
Below, you’ll find each of our takes on the cigar from toast to nub, and everything in between. As always, we stress that our opinions are subjective and yours may differ, but we hope to provide at least a summary of what you might expect from the San Lotano Dominicano Robusto.
If you’ve given it a try, we’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
San Lotano Dominicano Cigar Review – Robusto
Country of Origin/Factory: Tabacalera Palma (Jochy Blanco) – Santiago, Dominican Republic
Size: 5″ x 50
Strength: Medium (listed Full)
Wrapper: Cuban-seed Brazilian Habano
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
Gary’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Well-built with a very solid feel. Wrapper is oily with an attractive mottling pattern, and caramel-colored throughout. The cap is a well-applied triple seam.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor: Salty raisins.
Toasting & Light. Pretty easy. First few puffs were dominated by black pepper.
Base flavors: Black pepper, earth, charred cedar, sweet spice, molasses.
Retrohale: Peppery spice, but not overwhelming.
Burn & Ash Quality: Even from start to finish with a very firm and light grey, nickel stack ash.
Balance of flavors: Very good.
Summary: If this cigar was a movie it would star Jason Statham. Act one begins with an eye-opening blast of pepper – let’s call it the opening scene where Statham drives a Dodge Ram 3500 out of a C-17 cargo plane in midair and lands on the roof of a parking deck. Following that mayhem, at about the three-quarter inch mark, the cigar rounded out and the plot began to develop.
To be fair, the sample I smoked in the video did not have the same action-packed, opening scene; it was about half as peppery, but still rather spicy. Following that, both samples offered notes of slightly-charred cedar and sweet spice, then a hint of molasses, as peppery spice lingered on the finish.
By the midsection, there was a lot going on in this cigar. Every puff virtually exploded with a spicy presence as earthy, woody, sweet, and peppery flavors ensued. Moreover, the strength and combination of flavors rose and fell in big, rolling waves, making the Dominicano Robusto impressively complex.
Suffice it to say. . . You’d have to have a pretty dead palate to not pick up the overabundance of flavors that gush from this cigar like raging rapids. If that characterizes the kind of cigar that gets your mouth watering, then this Robusto is going to serve-up a full-bodied gumbo in spades for you.
Probably best suited for the experienced cigar smoker, anyone seeking a hearty, full-flavored blend will find it incredibly rich and equally intriguing. Moreover, taking it slow will give you an even greater appreciation for this AJ-Jochy production.
Jared’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Slightly reddish brown in hue with a veiny texture. The rolling line is well-hidden, and the cap is flawless.
Draw: A smidge tight, but not problematic.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and slightly fruity.
Toasting & Light: Leather, grains, and a touch of nuts.
Base flavors: Floral, leather, sweet grass, spices, pepper, and grains.
Retrohale: Strong, peppery, and sweet.
Aroma: Warm butter.
Burn & Ash Quality: Coin-stacked ash with an even burn.
Balance of flavors: It’s got a very good balancing act. Nothing took center stage.
Summary: When I heard that AJ Fernandez and Jochy Blanco got together for a cigar, my knee-jerk reaction was suspicion. Was one of them just slapping their name on it for a marketing boost? It was an odd news alert to get, because these partnerships tend to be born out of necessity, often pairing a blender with a factory and another without – but San Lotano Dominicano is different. Tobaccos from both of their farms (AJ’s in Nicaragua and Jochy’s in the Dominican) were selected for inclusion in the blend, and instead of viewing it as the publicity stunt that so many of these creations end up being, I found myself intrigued by what could be a proper collaboration.
One thing is immediately apparent: San Lotano Dominicano is complex, at least in its ability to kick. It reminds me of the ocean with its rising and waning tides of strength. And these changes happen often, in as little as half an inch at times. While the cigar never goes full tilt, when the power decides to kick in, you can feel it slightly in your belly – almost like that sensation you get when you’re just starting to get full. That satisfying feeling before it reaches the, “you’re going to need to roll me to the car” stage.
Speaking of being full, in regard to flavor, there’s a six-course meal of it on tap. Floral notes, wisps of leather, sweet grass, grains, spices, and of course…pepper converge on your palate, each of them seeming to get an equal share of taste buds to stimulate. When I mentioned earlier that the cigar’s complexity was more evident in its boldness, the flavors I experienced were all there – more or less – from start to finish.
The verdict? Worth your time. San Lotano Dominicano might have the buzz of a gimmicky ploy to just toss some names on a band, but this cigar brings it all to the table. If you’re looking to experience a medium-plus blend of some of the best up-and-coming blenders of this generation, I think these are hard to ignore.
Tommy’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Beautifully made cigar.
Pre-light flavor: A bit earthy & charry.
First Few Puffs: Sweet & slightly peppery.
Base flavors: Sweet cedar, charred oak, spice, pepper, nuts, molasses, vanilla, citrus.
Aroma: Charred wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: Perfect burn and ash.
Balance of flavors: Hard to describe.
Summary: When you combine the skills of two master blenders like AJ Fernandez and Jochy Blanco, you’re bound to get something different, and let me tell you, this cigar is as different as they come. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever really smoked a cigar like this one before. Now is that a good thing? Yes, it is, because this is one hell of a unique cigar with a tremendous amount of flavor.
First off, as far as complexity goes, this one might actually be a tad over complex, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever said previously in a cigar review. There is just so much going on as the flavor profile shifts like a NASCAR careening around the turns and into the straightaway. It starts out with the flavor of sweet cedar and a quick blast of pepper which makes for a nice sweet and spicy profile, but trust me when I say it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Different flavors come in and out to play at a rapid pace which is unusual for a 5 x 50 cigar. Before the halfway point I was hit with charred oak which quickly morphed into a crazy combination of molasses, vanilla, and a tangy citrus component. Around the two-thirds mark I was getting a nuttiness and then charred oak reared its head once more.
The construction of the San Lotano Dominicano is truly superb as it burned with a solid ash and the draw was smooth, emitting a lot of sweet white smoke. The thing that impressed me the most was when I put the cigar down for ten minutes to do an errand, and then puffed and it fired back up like I had only left it 30 seconds ago. In fact, I did this twice with the same exact result which goes to show what an incredibly well-made stick this really is.
So, did I like this cigar? Yes, very much, but I really had to pay attention to the various changes to get the full effect of the cornucopia of flavors scurrying across my taste buds. And, if YOU want to experience a spin on the flavor wheel, I suggest pairing this with either water or seltzer in order to not sully your palate, and to experience all this cigar has to offer. I liked it and I really want to try the larger sized Gordo to see if the experience changes.
John’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: Mottled wrapper with evident veins and a slight bit of tooth; densely packed smoke.
Draw: Good, with slight resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Has a buttery sweet tobacco smell; the taste has leather and pine wood.
Toasting & Light: A spicy undertone at the start, with sweet tea and tangy citrus (like grapefruit).
Base flavors: Earth, cocoa, wood and toast.
Retrohale: Full-tilt pepper.
Aroma: Cocoa and wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: An arrow-straight burn line, the near-white ash stacks beautifully.
Balance of flavors: This is one of those rare “rollercoaster” cigars – bordering wild on flavor.
Summary: There’s a lot to unpack with this San Lotano selection… earthiness seems to be the constant note, but some kind of new and interesting flavor seems to develop with every inch of this smoke. It’s crazy: first, it’s a puffy, creamy sweetness – like kettle corn. Then comes some bitey pepper, which transitions to a taste that’s like vanilla; then cedar, sweet tangy citrus, salty spice, and finally some darker, charred flavors at the end. You might as well take our cigar flavor wheel and give it a spin, like this is Wheel of Fortune or something.
The only two things I’ll knock this cigar on are (a) it’s a little bit of a quick smoker, as this Robusto falls short of the hour mark; and (b) the AJ & Jochy band, because the cigar experience is more like AJ versus Jochy – as you smoke it, it’s like a tug-of-war. For instance, you would think that the strength that usually goes with an AJ Fernandez cigar would bulldoze Jochy’s more Dominican tendencies…but it actually strikes somewhat of a balance – the strength stays medium throughout the cigar until the very end, when the flavors get very peppery, charred and peaty – and full – so it’s AJ that gets the parting shot. But it’s his name (San Lotano) on the cigar, after all.
Just to be clear: the San Lotano Dominicano doesn’t see-saw between being what you’d expect from a typical Dominican cigar (smooth, mellow) and a typical Nicaraguan cigar (spicy, full-bodied). It’s all in the mix of flavors – and how they’re layered on top of each other – that makes this San Lotano an interesting smoking experience.
Enjoy this when you have little to no distractions – during “me” time – so you can let your palate focus on the flavors.