Epicurean Santeria Chicken Bones (Pre-Release)

Just prior to the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, Steven Ysidron’s Epicurean Cigars announced a line extension to its Epicurean Gonzo Santeria line called “Chicken Bones”.  This vitola introduced a 5 x 30 offering using the Santeria blend.  The Santeria made its debut earlier this year – which an argument could be made it has been Ysidron’s most critically acclaimed release to date.  From my point of view, I was most curious at what the 5 x 30 format would do to the Santeria.  Recently, I had an opportunity to smoke a pre-release of the soon to be released Santeria Chicken Bones.  Overall I found this to be an excellent addition to the Santeria line.

In late 2012, it was announced that Epicurean Cigars would be the sixth company to be added to Gary Griffith’s House of Emilio family.  In terms of brand identity under House of Emilio, Epicurean Cigars has a distinct focus – small batch, Nicaraguan-based blends.  In terms of the Santeria, Nicaraguan tobacco plays a key role in the blend.

Santeria is described as a “cult religion” that is found in the Caribbean.  This was the inspiration behind the name and the cigar itself.  Chicken Bones have lone been associated with voodoo and cult religions.  The thin nature of the vitola also fits the name nicely.

Without further ado, let’s break down Epicurean’s Gonzo Santeria and see what this cigar brings to the table. Since this was a pre-release sample, we will default to our pre-review format to share thoughts and experiences with this cigar.  Once the Gonzo Santeria reaches stores, we will revisit this cigar and provide an assessment rating and score.  As a disclaimer, this pre-review is based on a single smoking experience.

Blend Profile

The following is the blend for the Gonzo Santeria line. Ysidron told Cigar Coop there is a binder on this thin cigar, but it uses a very thin leaves.  The cigar is a long-filler blend.

Wrapper: San Andres
Binder: San Andres, Nicaraguan Jalapa
Filler: 2009 Nicaraguan Jalapa and Condega

Vitolas Available

The Gonzo Santeria Chicken Bones are packaged in ten count paper wrapped bundles and is a rounded vitola.  The remainder of the line is packaged in 50 count boxes and is box-pressed.

Chicken Bones: 5 x 30
Ruca: 5 x 42
Heina: 6 x 52
Padrino: 6 x 60


The Epicurean Gonzo Santeria Chicken Bones’ San Andres wrapper has a coffee bean color to it.  Upon closer examination, there is some darker marbling.  The cigar as expected has a rugged look to it in terms of texture as there are visible wrapper seams and visible veins.  There is a tiny pig-tail at the cap.

Unlike the rest of the Santeria line, the Chicken Bones will be an unbanded cigar.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As opposed to pulling off the pig-tail off the cap of the Santeria Chicken Bones, I went with a straight cut.  This is part for the course with me on all pig-tail cap cigars.  I didn’t get much spice on the pre-light, but I still got some nice flavors of coffee and wood.  Overall I was pleased with the cold draw of this cigar.  At this point I was ready to light up the Chicken Bones and see what the smoking phase of this cigar would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Santeria Chicken Bones continued with the coffee and wood notes I got from the pre-light Draw.  This time I also detected some black and white pepper notes on the tongue as well.  Early on, I found that the coffee and wood notes were dominant in the forefront while the pepper is in the background.  Meanwhile on the retro-hale I also detected the white pepper notes.

In the second third, the wood notes evolved to more of a cedar note – providing some nice sweetness with the coffee notes.  Meanwhile while the pepper was still a background note, there were times it had a nice “bite” on the pallet – meaning it had a nice sharpness to it.

By the last third, the coffee notes had diminished.  The profile in these later stages was a combination of pepper and cedar to it.  There definitely was some spice at the end of this cigar, but the Chicken Bones didn’t have any harshness.  The resulting nub was cool in temperature and slightly soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The Chicken Bones might be a rugged little cigar, but it also a well-constructed one.  This was reflected very nicely in the burn and draw.  The burn line remained razor sharp throughout the smoking experience – requiring minimal touch-ups.  The ash was white in color and white nice and firm.

Prior to smoking this cigar, Ysidron mentioned to me that this would be a much slower burn than one would expect with such a thin ring gauge – and he was right.  This gave me nearly a 45 to 50 minute smoke.  The slow burn was actually a big positive here.  The burn temperature remained constant and never got hot.

Burn of the Epicurean Gonzo Santeria Chicken Bones

The draw was outstanding.  There was no tightness whatsoever.  It had just the right amount of resistance to make the smoking period very enjoyable.

Strength and Body

From both a strength and body perspective, I found the Chicken Bones to pretty much be in line with the rest of the Gonzo Santeria line.  It delivered medium strength from start to finish. I actually thought the Chicken Bones had a touch more body than the other Santeria vitolas I smoked.  I assessed this cigar as being medium to full in body.  In terms of strength versus body, I gave a slight edge to the body.

Final Thoughts

Prior to the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, Epicurean Cigars was named one of the Cigar Coop 2014 Five Boutiques to Watch.  Much of the reasons was because of many of the exciting new projects that have been coming from Ysidron’s brand this year.  It was just prior to the show, when word came out about the Chicken Bones, and this only solidified this choice in this author’s opinion.  I normally am not one to gravitate to ring gauges below 38, but this cigar was a clear winner.  This is a cigar I would easily recommend to the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast – especially someone who really likes a thin ring gauge.  As for myself, this is a cigar I certainly would go back and smoke again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Good


News: Epicurean Gonzo Santeria Chicken Bones
Price: $55.00 (Ten Pack)
Source: Sample provided by manufacturer (*)
Stogie Geeks Podcast: n/a
Stogie Feed: n/a

* The cigar for this assessment were given to Cigar Coop by Epicurean Cigars.  Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but this does not influence the review.