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While it has calmed down quite a bit in 2019, over the last two years, the cigar industry seemed to be enamored with the concept of collaboration, even if it wasn’t clear how much collaborating was actually going on.

Most of the time, these collaborations involved one company with a factory and another one without, but last year it became known that two people with notable factory and farming operations were making a cigar together.

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As the second part of that sentence spells out, it’s a project between Abdel “A.J.” Fernández and José “Jochy” Blanco. For this particular release, the collaboration went a bit further than normal. The San Lotano Dominicano uses a brand that is owned by Fernández, but made at Blanco’s Tabacalera Palma factory while being distributed by Fernández.

Furthermore, the binder and some filler tobaccos come from Blanco’s farms in the Dominican Republic, while the Nicaraguan fillers are from Fernández’s farms in Nicaragua. It’s all wrapped in a Cuban-seed Brazilian-grown wrapper.

Six months after the cigar was shown off via social media, it began shipping to stores in four vitolas.

  • San Lotano Dominicano Robusto (5 x 50) — $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
  • San Lotano Dominicano Toro (6 x 50) — $9 (Boxes of 20, $180)
  • San Lotano Dominicano Torpedo Box-Press (6 1/2 x 52) — $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • San Lotano Dominicano Gordo (6 1/4 x 60) — $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)

  • Cigar Reviewed: San Lotano Dominicano Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera Palma
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Cuban Seed)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $8 (Box of 20, $160)
  • Release Date: April 16, 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

There’s a lot going on with the main band but it’s well done and I’m a big fan of how the colors come together on the two bands. The wrapper feels like parchment paper and has an aroma of sweet cocoa that reminds me of a chocolate cake with a bit of barnyard flavors towards the back, around medium-full. The foot is similar in intensity, though sweeter and cleaner with sweet cocoa, vanilla and some leather. From the cold draw I get some chocolate cake batter with a bit of pepper and touches of barnyard underneath. If I take a slower cold draw it basically tastes just like brownies.

The San Lotano Dominicano begins with earthiness, acorn, some bitter chocolate and a bit of white pepper underneath the tongue. All three cigars I smoke have earthiness, it’s just a matter of what else comes with it. In two of them, it’s a crisp and clean earthiness joined by Corn Pops, some generic meatiness and an underlying sweetness. The other sample is gritty with earthiness, potato chips, black pepper and a very bitter dark chocolate, i.e. none of the sweetness I found on the pre-light examination. Retrohales have potato chips on top of earthiness before a touch of floral flavor adds itself to the mix, but the earthiness then drowns it out. Flavor is full, body is medium—which I would say is noticeably thin—and strength is medium-full. Construction is great on two cigars, while the one with a grittier profile needs a touch up in the first third and has a rather loose draw.

It remains a tale of two cigars in the second third of the San Lotano Dominicanos. Two of the cigars continue with a developed earthiness, damp woods, cedar and a vanilla sweetness. Retrohales have an underlying sweetness—though not as vanilla-like—along with some earthiness and a finish that reminds me of gyro meat. The other cigar continues to struggle with the draw and the flavor is a more generic earthiness, saltiness, creaminess and some sunflower seeds. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-full. The two cigars with good draws just need a minor touch up between them, but the other sample is struggling and I suspect it is due to the draw, which isn’t getting any better.

Predictably, the paths of good and not good continue in the final third. Flavor-wise, it’s both the best and worst of the experience. On the two cigars that are constructed well there is a hearty vanilla over some coffee bean and meatiness with saltiness on one side of my tongue and raisins on the finish. The other cigar is an earthy and toasty mess probably due to the draw—which isn’t producing very much smoke—and the constant touch-ups. Flavor finishes medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-plus.

Final Notes

  • These three cigars show why we smoke multiple cigars for a review. The first and third samples—the ones with good draws—did not taste or burn like the second one.
  • It’s also a very good example of how any one part of the manufacturing process—in this case, the bunching—can screw up just about every part of the overall experience. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the one cigar with obvious draw issues was also the same one with obvious flavor issues.
  • I find this collaboration a bit odd. No one has been more aggressive in trying to get companies to make cigars at their factory than Abdel Fernández and so the idea that he would then let someone else make one of his brands is somewhat counterintuitive, though this certainly made a bigger splash than say a San Lotano Claro made by A.J. would have done.
  • There are a total of four A.J. references between the two bands, which might be a record.
  • Speaking of the bands, I’m also a big fan of this shade of blue, which is nearly the same color as my car. Blue is historically not a popular choice for cigar bands for a variety of reasons.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes for the two cigars that had a good draw and over two hours and 20 minutes for the one that didn’t.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. and Gotham Cigars carry the San Lotano Dominicano Robusto, while JR Cigar carries the other three sizes.
87 Overall Score

Two of the San Lotano Dominicano Robustos were good, but probably not great. I really enjoyed the progression, starting quite earthy and sweetening up as the cigar burned down. Furthermore, the fact that the final third was the best third is always a nice touch for me, a reward for smoking the cigar instead of an encouragement to end it quicker. However, one sample wasn’t close to being good and fighting a cigar that didn’t really want to be smoked for over two hours is the most notable memory I have with the San Lotano Dominicano. For $8.50, I think there’s some value to be had but this certainly isn’t close to the best cigar in either Blanco's or Fernández’s portfolio.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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