As I have written before, I feel AJ Fernandez is beginning to make a solid mark on the cigar industry and is the next big thing. Inside many cigar shops people don’t know his name yet, but those who have shopped the catalogs do. (Editor: If you shop the catalogs get out of them and support your local economy and brick & mortars). Here are some of the cigars made by AJ Fernandez – Diesel, Man O War, Ave Maria, 5 Vegas AAA and many more.
Abdel J. Fernandez is a third generation cigar-maker who runs Tabacalera Fernandez in Nicaragua. He traces his cigar roots back to San Luis, Cuba where his grandfather started the San Lotano brand prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Before venturing out as a cigar-maker, AJ was a protege of Alejandro Robaina, one of the top cigar makes in Cuba.
In 2010 the AJ Fernandez decided to return to his roots and revived the long since discontinued brand, San Lotano. Produced in Esteli, Nicaragua at one of the large cigar factories in the region the San Lotano comes in a Connecticut, Habano, or Maduro wrapper.
Cigar: San Lotano Maduro
Size: 6 x 52 (Toro)
Wrapper: Mexico Maduro
Binder: Honduras & Dominican (Dual Binder)
Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
Cigars Smoked For Review: 5
Appearance and Construction: A slightly box pressed cigar with an exceptional grade A wrapper the cigar definitely stands out. Examination reveals a wrapper practically devoid of veins that feels a little bit gritty under the fingers like the finest sandpaper. There are some minimal oils present and absolutely no soft spots or pockets which is a rarity in a box press cigar. There is a dual band system in place, the first being the colorful San Lotano brand featuring my favorite shade of green, and a second band denoting Maduro.
Flavor & Notes: Prior to lighting up the cigar, the foot reveal notes of earth with a slight coffee bean present while the cold draw is heavy on cocoa and coffee bean. The initial notes on the the San Lotano Maduro by AJ Fernandez is that of a rich coffee with slight notes of dark chocolate. As I work my way further into the first third of cigar I am lost in the strong espresso notes that are dominant here with a slight cocoa in the background. As we approach the second third of the cigar the strong coffee remains, but the cocoa becomes on par with it. The retro-hale is spicy, and burns the nasal passages, but it is complex none the less. As we enter the final third of the cigar the cocoa notes have pulled an Elvis and left the building. What remains is more espresso notes with a slightly leather like finish.
Smoking Characteristics: A few of the cigars I smoked for review needed a touch up shortly after I lost the ash for the first time as I had some slight canoe action going on, but other then that it burned fairly well. The medium color ash was a bit weak and a little bit flaky which annoyed me some, but not enough to take away from the enjoyment of the cigar. The draw was ideal and the cigar has a nice rich coffee aroma too it.
Conclusion: While the San Lotano Habano might of been more complex, the Maduro really did it for me. I found enjoyment from the first pull to the final exhale. The cigar left me feeling relaxed and ready to face the day.
Disclaimer: I received some samples of this smoke back at IPCPR in Augusto of 2010 and also recently picked up some at a local shop. As always the typographical errors, grammar and spelling mistakes have been left in this review for your amusement.