Pepin Garcia’s name doesn’t usually come to mind when considering the latest, greatest, Connecticut-wrapped releases. The San Cristobal Elegancia could be an attempt by the crew at My Father change this perception. If creating inroads beyond the Nicaraguan-spice-bomb market is a Garcia family priority, then Ashton, with their record of quality and established following, is an ideal choice for the Elegancia partnership.
Garcia-made sticks registering lower on the spice scale like the Vegas Cubanas and Tat Caibaguan are clearly winners. But My Father––or any other hot Nicaraguan boutique manufacturer––has yet to release a signature Connecticut that equals their best puros. Such an uber-successful CT launch may require super-premium positioning to captivate enthusiasts. Readily available and reasonably priced, the Elegancia doesn’t exude high-end exclusivity which may explain the comparatively little hype it received coming out of IPCPR.
Perhaps an opportunity for Ashton and Pepin to make a statement, to tell a story, has been lost?
In these halcyon days of Nicaraguan cigar production, manufacturers and distributers need to bring their A-game with each release. A great tasting cigar without a good story can easily get lost among the big personalities and high-powered partnerships that drive the industry.
Ashton and My Father probably couldn’t combine to make a bad-tasting stick if they tried. But after an unspectacular launch, questions about the San Cristobal Elegancia come to mind. Who is it for? Why is it necessary?
After sampling some Elegancia Robustos, we considered these and other questions. You can learn more about our conclusions below and let know your thoughts in the comments.
Brand: San Cristobal
Vitola Reviewed: Robusto (5.00 x 50)
Tobacco Origins: Nicaraguan filler and binder w/ Ecuadoran Connecticut-seed wrapper.
Manufacture Origin: My Father Cigars – Estelí, Nicaragua
Production: Five traditional Cuban vitolas
The Elegancia is firmly packed with an attractive Connecticut wrapper showing almost no veins and little oil.
The wrapper nose is faintly sweet. Tangy tobacco mixed with acidic fruit aromas come off the foot. After completing a straight cut on the perfunctory triple cap, the cold draw produces more tangy tobacco and orange peel with a wide-open draw.
Normally, cool-colored designs make for a poor band presentation, but Ashton managed to make the ample blues and greens in the Elegancia’s double-band artwork appear delicate and regal while remaining substantive. Very well done.
Burn & Combustion
Despite what feels like a firm pack, the Elegancia’s draw remains open after lighting. The cigar burns fast and produces a ton of smoke. These conditions make heat/burn management a snap and lend themselves to smaller “sip-like” puffs that keep the smoke cool while facilitating maximum enjoyment of the subtlest flavors.
A firm salt-and-pepper ash grows to about an inch before falling. The thin, near-black burn line stays straight throughout our robusto’s hour-and-fifteen-minute burn time.
Strength & Flavor
First puffs of the San Cristobal Elegancia produce dry, tangy tobacco and grassy flavors. The blend of pepper is quite interesting and a bit of a moving target. Despite the Garcia connections, the spice volume and strength is surprising. Pallet-zinging pepper fills the long finish yet it is barely detected through the sinus on retrohale––a subtle touch that’s appreciated.
A peppery, grassy essence dominates the Elegancia’s flavor core. The first creamy, sweet flavors reminiscent of the wrapper nose appear during the middle third, but these are just hints and undertones. Greater complexity emerges during the final third as notes of wood, anise and tangy tobacco compliment the increasingly dense pepper finish.
Both the flavor body and strength fit in to a medium profile that becomes more aggressive in the final third. The perception that Connecticut-wrapped sticks are always milder than maduro, corojo and other varieties is patently inaccurate. We understand this and yet remain surprised by the amount of pepper that occasionally pops while smoking the Elegancia.
The flavor profile is not extreme or unpleasant at all and well within the range of flavor we expect considering the tobacco contained in the stick. But the Elegancia’s flavors underwhelm at times, failing to fulfill all their potential.
A premium cigar’s presentation, quality and smoking experience add up to something like a story. A cigar (and any product) works best when these elements align and compliment each other. We enjoyed all the individual elements of the San Cristobal Elegancia, but we aren’t sure they align to make a great cigar.
In contrast to other elements of the San Cristobal’s positioning, the refined Connecticut wrapper and oceanic designs suggest all things “cool”, “mellow”, “rich” and, well… “elegant”. From flavor perspective, delivering on this promise is a tall order. The Elegancia probably hits enough high flavor notes to complete an experience many enthusiasts will enjoy. Others may find the depth of flavor complexity less than expected. Ultimately, this robusto is more workmanlike than elegant.
We find ourselves straddling the fence a little when assessing the Elegancia. Some aging should bring out the more delicate and interesting flavor notes the young samples we tasted only hinted at. And we plan to revisit the blend in the future, try more vitolas and see exactly where this blend tops out. Based on what we’ve experience thus far, we are comfortable recommending the release to enthusiasts of all flavor preferences. We’re giving the San Cristobal Elegancia Robusto and HLC rating of 90.7. But the story isn’t over…