Brand Owner: Holt’s Company
Tabacalera: Tabacalera Cubana (TACUBA)
Click here for a short video (about 11 minutes) of the José “Don Pepín” García factory in Esteli, Nicaragua posted on YouTube by Cigar King.
Model/Vitola: Ashton San Cristobal Fabuloso (torpedo)
Size: 6.125 x 52
Vitola sizes available (All in boxes of 22)
San Cristobal Vitolas (photos courtesy of www.ashtoncigar.com)
Ashton has held the trademark for the San Cristobal name for over 20 years and thanks to José “Don Pepín” García they now have a cigar suitable for the name. Ashton’s first new brand – since the 2002 launch of La Aroma de Cuba.
Released shortly after RTDA 2007, this is the long awaited new line of cigars Ashton has been working on for 2 years. It has been reported the first years release will total 300,000 cigars but Ashton says they will not be limited like the VSGs, ESGs or even the Aged Maduro (open ordering). It is blended and rolled in José “Don Pepín” García’s TACUBA facility at Esteli, Nicaragua. The San Cristobal is a Nicaraguan puro using a dark Nicaraguan wrapper, slightly veiny and mottled with a rosado hue. The cigar is medium to full-bodied with a hint of that now classic Pepín flavor. He always manages to get very different flavor profiles using all Nicaraguan tobacco. Truly a genius, he is able to produce cigar after cigar with its own unique characteristics.
Some have expressed concern that the new Ashton-JDPG connection may indicate a change in the Ashton-Fuente relationship. This quote from vice president Sathya Levin @ Ashton posted mid-June 2007 on the cigar family forum online:
… Nothing has changed between us and the Fuente family. The Fuentes are our partners, as well as our dear friends. We wish that every cigar we sold was made by Fuente, but their production capacity is currently maxed out. Carlito is not an envious or vindictive person. He knows that in order for us to continue to grow, we need to have cigars manufactured outside of his factory. He gave us his blessing on this project.
The reason we chose Pepin is that we believe he is making some of the finest cigars in the world today. His breadth of knowledge regarding tobaccos and cigar making is truly astounding. You need not worry [about tobacco supply]! Pepin does indeed have oodles and oodles of aged tobaccos all ready to be rolled up …
Bottom line up front …..
A little young but this is another really special cigar from Ashton and José “Don Pepín” García. Perfectly balanced between strength and complexity of flavors. Exquisite construction, burn and a long smooth finish. Like many who waited anxiously for this release, I am ecstatic to finally have a box and can’t wait to try the other sizes.
I heard that Carlito Fuente was quite upset when the initial Ashton Estate Sun Grown (ESG) was released. He felt the cigar was not ready and, having purchased and smoked one right away, I have to agree. They were not ready. Those who spoke with José “Don Pepín” García at RTDA said he was very excited about this release but my IMO the San Cristobal, although a good smoke now, is pretty young and needs another 3-4 months to be really good. With a year or two, these are going to be phenomenal.
A dark brown oily wrapper with a few veins and a reddish hue envelopes this beautiful torpedo. I read that JDPG said the wrapper was maduro during a conversation at RTDA but Ashton doesn’t mention it in their information. Who are you going to believe? Construction is solid and the stick feels very nicely balanced in the hand. An earthy tobacco aroma from the wrap and the foot with just a hint of barnyard and pepper. It actually tingled my nose and drew a sneeze. The band is a work of art and when it’s time, is removed very easily with no effect on the cigar. I used my Xikar and the clip was very clean. Draw was easy with just a slight resistance.
The Smoking Experience
The foot toasted and lit easily. The burn line got a little bumpy at times but always self corrected without the torch. Draw continued to be very good through to the nub. The ash was very light gray and held on well to about two inches each time. This cigar puts out tons of smoke.
Starts with the typical JDPG bang for about an inch then smoothes out to a core flavor of dark earthy espresso, dark chocolate and toasted cedar with notes of nuts, vanilla and black pepper over the length of the cigar. Definitely what you would call a full-flavored, full-bodied cigar. The finish is long and the aroma is special. During the last third I detected a little caramel on the nose.
I would say this stick starts and holds the medium category until about the halfway mark where it begins to build in strength to full towards the nub. Definitely has a nicotine kick. I had mine with a glass of port which complimented the cigar very nicely.
You can tell when a cigar maker is especially proud of the brand when they adorn the cigar and boxes with ornate bands and box design like the Fuente Fuente OpusX and the Ashton ESG. The band and box artwork for the San Cristobal are exquisite to say the very least.
Inside Box Cover
Cedar Cigar Separator
Wax Paper Logo
My take …..
Although a little young IMHO, I enjoyed this smoke immensely and will be looking to obtain more to age. My problem will be the ability to summon the patience when I get em’.
I am not sure of MSRP for the Fabuloso at this point. The Ashton folks are saying the entire line runs between $7 and $12. The online price has gone up since I ordered mine (pre-release). Right now they run $9.50 per stick if you buy a box ($209.00/22) and $9.75 for a single from Jack Schwartz Importer. Definitely a wallet reducer but I plan to get some more (They are that good!). I would have thought Holt’s would be the first online to carry them (since they own the brand) but they have no listing as of this post.
Like it … Very much
Buy it again … Absolutely
Recommend it … Yes, but age em’ for a few months if you can hold out that long
What others are saying about the
San Cristobal by Ashton …..
9 August 2007 – Cigar Aficionado Blog – David Savona
A Preview of Ashton’s New San Cristobal
12 August 2007 – John51277 of CigarLive
Ashton/Pepin San Cristobal “Classico”
25 August 2007 – Jay (aka Altercall) of BOTL Cigar Forums – Brothers of the Leaf
San Cristobal Review
29 June 2007
The Cohiba Club
The Many Faces of Don Pepín García
Wikipedia on José “Don Pepín” García
“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,
and never to refrain when awake.” (Mark Twain)
15 thoughts on “San Cristobal Fabuloso by Ashton”
Great review of a cigar that has been keenly anticipated by Pepin fans everywhere. It sounds like no matter how many blends he creates, he hits the mark every time. Incredible. Thanks for another great write up!
Thx for an informative review, lucky7. You hinted at this above, but in your opinion does the San Cristobal differ enough from Pepin’s other full-bodied blends (601 Red, Pepin Blue Label, Tat Cojonu ’03, Habana Leon, etc.) to merit a box purchase? Which of Pepin’s other blends is this most comparable to? Thanks again!
Like Cigarfan, I am astounded at Pepin’s ability to come up with cigar after cigar that tantilizes the palate. If I were to suggest the San Cristobal was like another Pepin blend it would have to be the EO 601 Blue (maduro). The SC has the typical JDPG light bite and the smooth, slightly sweet twang on the nose but the flavor profile is much darker, if one could describe it that way, than any other JDPG blend. More in the category of the Ashton VSG than other Pepin blends.
The San Cristobal has a pretty high price point so buying a box for many will be tough. I can definitely imagine the SC achieving the status of “favorite cigar” for some folks kinda like the VSG has become for me. I’m sure a little age will have them rise to the top of smoking rotations everywhere.
Appreciate your comment and given you have named some very good JDPG blends, I’m sure you will enjoy the San Cristobal!
Don Pepin meets VSG… darker flavor profile… oh, man, now I’m totally intrigued! Resistance may be futile. CK has them at $9.50/stick by the fiver, $8.60/stick by the box. Thanks again for the great info!
A local cigar shoppe owner gave his sample he received from the RTDA. It has been in my humidor about 3 weeks. I may just let it sit there until Christmas time and then light it up.
Thanks for the review!
That is a solid plan. Given these are pricey, it only makes sense to put some age on them before setting the the match to em’. I smoked/gifted a few from my box and have hidden the rest deep in my large humi. Out of sight, out of mind (I’m hoping).
Thanks for stopping by!
Nice review. I’m still undecided on these and have some more resting up to see how they’ll turn out.
I’m waiting until 6 months after the release date of this cigar and then I’m going to have a “coming out” party where I’ll invite friends who have been patiently aging some to bring a couple, turn them to ash and compare notes. I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised!
Appreciate your comment!
I hear a lot of people saying that these cigars are the closest they’ve ever tasted to Cubans, but I’m not sure how great of a compliment this is. I tend to think that cubans are somewhat overrated and that the other cigar producing regions of the world can be just as good.
These are cigars are pretty hard to get though – making the demand for them much higher.
Great review – I agree with your review for the most part. The Construction and burn of the San Cristobals was also great when I tried them. I’ve had 4 of the sizes and they are all good.
Outstanding review. Thanks.
I just finished my second Classico (robusto) and already it has become my favorite afternoon cigar. This little powerhouse starts off decidedly sweet with flavors of coffee and mild cocoa. A sweet spiciness reminiscent of hot cinnamon candy picks up in the middle third, which yields to flavors of leather and slightly cool cedar in the final third. I found a double espresso (slightly sweetened) an ideal accompaniment to this stick. I don’t know how much better this will get with age; it was exceptional only a few days after purchase. A top ten smoke for me, easily besting most Habanos I’ve tried.
@ Ashton San Cristobal Cigars
I don’t really have allot of experience with Cubans. If the San Cristobal is like them they must be really good.
I can tell you, at a local cigar event I had an Ashton rep tell me the San Cristobal will be produced in sufficient quantities to meet demand. It will NOT be scarce like the VSG. I sure hope they keep their word on that.
I can tell you a couple of months on my Fabuloso box has worked wonders. Had one tonight and they are definitely getting better. I am a fan of the robusto size and it sounds like I better get some of them there Clasicos too!
Thanks guys for the comments. Always glad to hear folks appreciate the reviews.