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Staff Reviews

San Lotano Maduro Staff Review

Tom O. O's picture

Tom O.

I’m smoking San Lotano Maduro, from AJ Fernandez, in a 6-by-52 Toro. AJ’s streak as a major cigar-maker in Nicaragua shows no signs of slowing, and one of his original hits, San Lotano, has spawned into a popular collection of blends, including the Maduro I’m reviewing today.

San Lotano Oval debuted in 2012 and was the first line AJ Fernandez blended and produced under his own name following years of success making cigars under contract for others. While AJ’s Nicaraguan factories continue to make a wide variety of cigars under contract for Romeo y Julieta, Aging Room, Southern Draw, and Foundation, his signature AJ Fernandez portfolio has grown exponentially in the past decade with dozens of top-rated cigars, including New World, Bellas Artes, Last Call, and Enclave.

San Lotano Maduro is handmade in several popular sizes blended from an especially dark and appealing San Andrés wrapper over hearty Nicaraguan and Honduran long-filler tobaccos. Like other cigars in AJ’s portfolio, you can anticipate a high level of consistency for a great price. San Lotano Maduro is another example of why Nicaraguan cigars are so popular these days. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good cigar with reliable flavor. AJ Fernandez cigars make regular appearances in my golf ‘gar rotation because I know I can buy a whole box without breaking the bank and share them with my pals when we tee off.

Not long ago, AJ updated the bands and boxes for San Lotano cigars. The Maduro comes in a dark green box with gold-and-green bands, and AJ changed the official name of the blend to San Lotano Requiem Maduro. The dark and oily sheen of the wrapper’s complexion makes the bands pop. I pick up pronounced aromas earth, anise, and black pepper when I pluck a fresh Toro from the cellophane and take a deep sniff of the unlit foot. Similar but more intense flavors emerge in the cold after I cut the cap and take a few cold draws.

San Lotano Maduro lights up steadily thanks to the precise assembly of its binder and filler tobaccos and the easy draw it delivers. Intense notes of black pepper mark the first puffs, especially as the smoke travels through my nostrils. But a pleasant sweetness follows with hints of raisin, milk chocolate, and nuts. Woody and pepper flavors of black licorice and clove linger as the cigar fully heats up and the first five minutes are off the clock.

I wouldn’t classify San Lotano Maduro as a super-strong cigar, but it’s definitely a cigar you should smoke on a full stomach. Its nicotine density is palpable, and its relatively smooth draw makes it an easy cigar to smoke too fast if you’re not paying attention. Notes of mesquite, hickory, and raisin stand out over the cigar’s spicy foundation throughout the middle.

San Lotano Maduro is shaping up as an ideal smoke to savor with a sip of bourbon over the bonfire when I’m camping. Its sweet, succulent, and zesty flavors fill out every puff with excellent balance. The finish is a touch bitter after I peel off the bands and nurse the nub for the final few minutes. I knocked the ash off the end a total of four or five times over the course of sixty minutes, and it was mostly firm in each case.

The San Lotano Maduro Toro sells for about $9 but reminds me of cigars I spent twenty bucks on in the past – a testament to the quality control in AJ’s operation. Building up a brand isn’t easy, but when your cigars become popular, it’s tough to maintain consistency as production increases. AJ has a proven capacity for managing his network of cigar factories and tobacco farms in Nicaragua, and San Lotano Maduro is one more reason to add the best AJ Fernandez cigars to your rotation. I guarantee you’ll discover more than one blend that merits buying a box. 


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