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Late in 2011, rumors started flying around the web that A.J. Fernandez would be adding a Maduro wrapped version of its extremely popular Oval line. The new cigars have the exact same filler and binder as the norma Oval, but they replace the Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper with a Habano Maduro one.

Talking about the Oval blend, Clay Roberts of A.J. Fernandez said:

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The San Lotano Oval differs from the existing San Lotano line as it is blended with “ultra premium aged tobacco. This provides the the cigar a very distinguished balance,” according to AJ.

While the Oval Maduro’s wrapper is dark, the wrapper on the regular Oval is quite dark.

San Lotano Oval Corona

The San Lotano Oval Maduro comes in boxes of 20, with five vitolas currently shipped. They are:

  • San Lotano Oval Maduro Churchill (7 x 52) — $9.40 (Boxes of 20, $188)
  • San Lotano Oval Maduro Corona (5 x 44) — $7.80 (Boxes of 20, $156)
  • San Lotano Oval Maduro Robusto (5  x 52) — $8.80 (Boxes of 20, $176)
  • San Lotano Oval Maduro Toro (6 x 52) — $9 (Boxes of 20, $180)
  • San Lotano Oval Maduro Torpedo (6 1/2 x 52) — $9.40 (Boxes of 20, $188)

San Lotano Oval Maduro Corona 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: San Lotano Oval Maduro Corona
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua & “AJ’s Secret Filler”
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $7.80 (Boxes of 20, $156)
  • Release Date: April 2, 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The San Lotano Oval Maduro is impressive to see, if just for the unique Oval box-press. It’s extremely dark chocolate brown and while there are no seams present, the Oval Corona is smooth to the touch. The wrapper smells strongly of coffee, leather, barnyard and pepper. When squeezed, the Oval Maduro is a little spongy, but not enough to cause concern.

The first third of the Oval Maduro starts out with strong black pepper, both in the mouth and on the retrohale, along with a bit of spice on the tongue. Flavors of leather, wood, espresso and earth all combine together at various levels. The pepper dies down a bit after a few puffs, but continues to be strong enough to affect the profile while the spice is almost totally gone by the end of the third. Burn and draw are fantastic. Oddly, the strength is stuck at a low medium so far and shows little sign of getting any stronger.

San Lotano Oval Maduro Corona 2

Coming into the second third of the Oval, the pepper is still around as a background note, but not much else, and the spice is long gone. Flavors are pretty much the same with the slightly bitter espresso dominant and other notes of leather and a tiny amount of earth. Construction is wonderful, and the strength increases to a solid medium.

San Lotano Oval Maduro Corona 3

The final third of the San Lotano stays the course both in construction and flavors. Not much change at all, although the spice does come back just a bit stronger right before the end of the smoke. Construction remains excellent to the end, although the cigar does get a bit hot right before I put it down for the final time.

San Lotano Oval Maduro Corona 4

Final Notes

  • The Gordo (6 1/2 by 60) is the best selling Oval vitola, according to Clay Roberts. According to Roberts, there is no Maduro version of the Gordo.
  • Although the Corona measures in at 5 x 44 for both the Maduro and Habano wrappers, the official A.J.Fernandez website actually lists the size of the Oval Habano Corona at 5 1/2 x 44.
  • On average, the Maduro is $.25 higher than the original Oval per cigar
  • According to reports, the San Lotano Oval blend took five years to develop.
  • San Lotano, which was reintroduced in mid-2010, was actually a brand that was made by A.J.s grandfather in San Luis Cuba before being discontinued around 1959, when the Cuban Revolution started.
  • The Habano wrapped version of the Oval did extremely well in our 2011 Consensus Top 25, taking the #2 spot.
  • I have to say, I am shocked at how different the Maduro is compared to the Habano, both in flavor and strength. While the Habano version is complex and nuanced, the Maduro version is fairly monotonous and a bit rough around the edges.
  • If you are looking for an example on how much a profile can change with no change other than the wrapper, this line should be Exhibit A.
  • The Oval Maduro is expected to begin shipping nationally in the coming days, currently it is only available at a limited amount of retailers.
  • The shape of these cigars is just badass, there is no other way to describe it. Easy to smoke, easy to keep in your mouth and cool to look at. I have to say, in your mouth, it does feel quite a bit like an LFD Chisel vitola, which makes sense.
  • There was more smoke than I expected for a smaller vitola and it never let up throughout the entire cigar.
  • The wrapper on the Oval Maduro is actually the same Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, just fermented differently.
  • Construction, burn and draw were wonderful on all samples smoked, both Maduro and Habano.
  • The final smoking time for all three Coronas was just under one hour.
  • If you would like to purchase some of the San Lotano Oval, site sponsor Atlantic Cigar carries the regular one and is likely to add the Maduro in the coming days.

 

82 Overall Score

Although this is an good cigar, the Oval Maduro really does pale in comparison to its Habano wrapped brother. Somehow, the Maduro wrapper seems to have taken out much of the complexity and balance that is present in the Oval profile, and replaced it with fairly normal Maduro flavors and a bit more strength. Construction was excellent and there is plenty of smoke, but I just can't give more than a passing recommendation to the Oval Maduro when the original Oval is that much better.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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