|San Cristobal Elegancia|
2011 will long be remembered as the year of Ecuadorian/Connecticut Shade wrapper cigars. Many of the big name blenders have been working with these tobaccos in the cigars they have made. The challenge this is creating is that it is creating a lot of competition in retail humidors for cigars in this genre. A lot of manufacturers are following the lead set by A.J. Fernandez with his San Lotano Connecticut – that is developing blends that are not mild strength, mild bodied cigars. One cigar that is a new release Ecuadorian/Connecticut shade cigar comes from Ashton in their San Cristobal line. This blend is called the San Cristobal Elegancia. The Elegancia is a solid cigar, but I’m wondering if it might get lost in the saturation of Ecuadorian/Connecticut shade releass in 2011.
The San Cristobal line started as collaboration between Don Pepin Garcia and Ashton Cigars. Once again the partnership works together to produce the Elegancia. Pepin has already shown an interest in working with the trendy Ecuadorian/Connecticut shade wrapper as he has already done so with EO Brands’ 601 White earlier this year.
Let’s break down the San Cristobal Elegancia and see what it brings to the table:
The binder and filler is classic Garcia Nicaraguan. The Connecticut seed Ecuadorian wrapper has a silky look to it.
Wrapper: Connecticut seed Ecuadorian
At the time of release, the San Cristobal Elegancia is offered in five vitolas:
Corona: 5 1/2 x 46
Robusto: 5 x 50
Imperial: 6 x 52
Pyramid: 6 1/4 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 50
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For this cigar experience, I selected the Imperial – basically a classic toro-sized vitola. I placed a straight cut into the cap and immediately proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry notes didn’t surprise me – butter and pepper. Being this is a Garcia family cigar, I fully expected the pepper. Overall the pre-light experience was satisfactory, so it was on light the cigar and smoke.
The Elegancia was classic Garcia at the start – I got some cedar spice and pepper through the nose. At the same time, the butter flavors associated with the Ecuadorian shade wrapper blended right in with the spice. In particular, there was almost a three-dimensional flavor to the butter and spice where the butter is literally layered over the pepper.
At the start of the second third of the Elegancia, I noticed the cedar spice increase. I also noticed some citrus sweetness develop. Around the halfway point the cedar spice diminishes a bit and the citrus moved front and center. At this point, the citrus definitely took on a lemon feel. It was around this point where the butter notes dissipated. While the flavors were solid, the citrus and spice seemed to mesh and the Elegancia did not have the “three-dimensional” quality it had earlier on in terms of flavors.
In the final third, the cedar spice picked up again and became the dominant note. The lemon notes had become more of a secondary note. I wouldn’t say this spice was a true “spice kick”, but it provided enough spice. The finish was not harsh. The nub was soft and slightly warm.
Burn and Draw
The Elegancia has great scores for both the burn and draw. The burn required a few touch-ups, but nothing major. The burn rate was actually a bit slow and that is something I like. No issues with the Elegancia burning hot – it burned at a perfect temperature. The draw was outstanding – making for one enjoyable smoking experience.
Strength and Body
When it comes to the flood of Ecuadorian/Connecticut shade cigars, this is a category I pay particular attention to. The Elegancia is not strong cigar in terms of nicotine.. It starts out as a mild strength cigar and by the midway point, it approaches mild to medium in terms of strength. As for the body, the flavors definitely have some depth – a solid medium in this category.
At the start of this assessment I said that this cigar is a solid cigar, but wondered if it would get lost in the pack of Ecuadorian/Connecticut shade cigars. Right now I still have the Room 101 Connecticut and E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut ahead of this for 2011, but this is still a nice cigar. Time will tell how this cigar lands as the other cigars with this profile hit the retailer shelves. Overall, I would recommend this to novice enthusiasts with no problem. I’m thinking experienced enthusiasts wanting a milder strength, milder bodied cigar might look to some other offerings, but I’d still encourage them to give it a try. From my point of view, I’d have no issue buying this cigar again.
Strength: Mild to Medium (Mild to Start)
Body: Mild to Medium
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Holt’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.