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Staff Reviews

San Cristobal Quintessence Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

I’ve been a big fan of San Cristobal ever since the brand debuted back in 2007. Full-bodied, earthy notes of leather, spice and coffee beans characterize the original San Cristobal blend in a recipe of all-Nicaraguan tobaccos finished with a lustrous Oscuro wrapper leaf. In its more than ten-year span, the brand’s portfolio has advanced with remarkable depth. San Cristobal cigars are blended by the renowned Garcia family and rolled at the famous My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Today, a mix of milder and more full-bodied cigars wear the blissful, parrot-clad San Cristobal cigar band. Among my favorites is the brand’s fifth release, San Cristobal Quintessence. It premiered in 2016 and is now available in five classic formats. I’ve been enamored with the Corona Gorda. At 5.625 x 46, the shape gently amplifies the cigar’s rich flavor profile.

Before digging into the tasting notes, San Cristobal packaging does not go unnoticed. Quintessence is packed in chestnut-colored wooden boxes adorned with the band’s emblem, a unique rendition of the brand’s mascot: a brilliant parrot set in a tropical landscape. Vivid floral imagery depicts marvelous detail in pink, white, red, and green vegetation. Accompanying accents include the iconic gold medallions, a bright peach sky, and turquoise waters that consume “Quintessence” at the bottom. Beneath the band, an enticing, gingerbread-hued Ecuador Habano wrapper embraces a luscious interior of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos chosen from select Garcia family estates.

The cigar’s cold draw mirrors the amalgam of dried fruit, molasses, and pepper perceived by taking a deep sniff of the raw foot. In its unlit state, I find Quintessence delivers an accurate forecast of the flavors awaiting. Much of what the blend adds to the San Cristobal portfolio resides in its Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf. If you’re familiar with a number of other cigars that Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia has blended in the past, you’re no doubt acquainted with his indulgent application of Cuban-seed wrapper varietals. Quintessence is the first Ecuador Habano in the San Cristobal line.

Upon ignition, notes of brown sugar, almonds, and molasses deliver an exquisite balance of signature Nicaraguan spices. In the first third of the cigar, creamy and nutty notes emerge that are never overpowered by the cigar’s spices. Overall, Quintessence is medium to full-bodied, but it does not sway in the vicinity of bitter or acidic. In many ways, the blend embodies one of the most desirable traits I believe a cigar can possess: strength with smoothness.

By the middle third of the cigar, hints of nutmeg, cedar, and cinnamon straddle the palate with clean texture and notes of leather. The cigar’s complexity is never fleeting. An abundance of crisp, peppery aromas prevail when you push the smoke out through your nose. The olfactory affect is particularly appealing towards the end. The razor-sharp burn is perfectly constructed and brandishes luscious flavors of walnuts and wood as I transit the final few minutes after removing the band. 

Most cigars in the brand’s collection present a unique dichotomy for me in that I often prefer to smoke one right at the start of the day with a hot cup of coffee, or at the very end of the night with a stiff drink. San Cristobal Quintessence is no exception in its ability to command attention in a disarming fashion. I especially enjoy this cigar with an aged bourbon that’s more on the buttery side like Angel’s Envy, or with a full-bodied Cabernet that bears an approachable, silky texture.

Although I always prefer to indulge in my favorite cigars on a clean palate, the San Cristobal portfolio once again merits easy appreciation with an ultra-refined blend that will make you forget about anything you may have smoked earlier in the day. Pencil Quintessence into the next free evening on your calendar and end any notion of trial and error when you’re simply trying to relax.


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