Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sumatra Maduro
Binder: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Vitola: Prensado (Toro, 6 x 52)
Brand: Providencia Cigars
CigarNoise Price Range: $8 – $10
Availability: Regular Production
Source: Review Samples
Providencia El Santo – Opening Thoughts
Today’s review, the Providencia El Santo, comes directly from the manufacturer, Providencia Cigars. The semi-firm, box pressed El Santo feels smooth to the touch with virtually no tooth. There is no indication of oiliness on the surface of the wrapper either. The Sumatran Maduro wrapper looks just as I would expect; a dark brown with some reddish undertones. The outward indications suggest good construction with well hidden seams and flawlessly applied cap.
As I draw deeply against the wrapper, my nose is filled with cocoa, mild barnyard scents, and sweet tobacco. The same inspection of the foot offers cinnamon, hay, leather and cocoa. Once I remove the cap with a straight cut, the cold draw is easy, carrying notes of cocoa, dry hay, and some mild spice in the profile.
For those of you interested, I smoked two cigars for this review. The first rested for 22 days and the second for 43 days. Let’s move on to the nuts and bolts of the El Santo.
Providencia El Santo – First Third
Dry Cedar, Leather, Earth, Salt, Cedar, Bitterness
After slowly toasting the end of El Santo, my first few pulls produce medium amounts of smoke. Cedar, with a very dry quality is the first flavor on my palate closely followed by leather and earthy notes. But as soon as I expel the smoke from my mouth, a salty, bitter finish punishes my palate.
As this cigar heats up, I hold a volume of smoke in my mouth, slowly allowing some smoke to pass through my sinuses while simultaneaously releasing the rest of the smoke from my mouth. The retrohale experience is cool and dominated by the cedar and salty notes.
While the ash is solid and smoke production is good, occasionally I catch a hint of ammonia in the room smoke from the foot. Since I am the only one sitting here smoking, it’s clearly this cigar. Any time I smell or taste ammonia, I begin to question the age of the tobacco or the fermenting process. With ammonia scents in the smoke, it’s strange not to have it in the flavor profile.
Providencia El Santo – Middle Third
Leather, Earth, Dry Cedar, Grilled Meat, Bitterness, Black Pepper
I really hope the middle third offers a different experience for me. After losing the ash from the end of the cigar, my first draw of smoke is dominated by leather notes followed closely by earth, dry cedar, and a grilled meat flavor. This grilled meat note is a welcome change. Unfortunately right on it’s heels is a bitter finish, effectively ruining the moment for me.
Mid way through this third now and I am applying a minor correction to the burn as it attempts to run on one side of the cigar. It isn’t a drastic run, but one I want to control nonetheless.
Cedar and black pepper join in the retrohale to make this the most enjoyable part of the cigar thus far. There is no saltiness nor bitterness in the retrohale profile at all. I welcome this fact with open arms!
The construction and draw on the El Santo continue to impress. The ash is solid with only minor flaking and the draw is as perfect as they come.
Providencia El Santo – Final Third
Leather, Cedar, Grilled Meat, Bitterness, Ammonia, Black Pepper
I am just beginning the final section of this cigar and I tap the cigar slightly to watch the ash fall off in one solid chunk about an inch and a half long. Light gray in color and marginally flaky, I am impressed by the performance of El Santo from a construction standpoint.
Familiar flavors of leather, cedar and grilled meat are covering my palate. Unfortunately, the equally familiar bitter finish is now joined by ammonia as I get closer to the end of this cigar. This final section begins with one hour and ten minutes of smoke time passing, so I know I am not rushing the cigar’s performance.
The retrohale again consists of cedar and mild amounts of black pepper. When I sit the cigar in the rest I am catch more ammonia notes in the smoke off the foot. There is nothing leading me to believe the cigar is too hot or wasn’t ready to smoke. Even as I near the end of the cigar, it is barely warm to the touch and feels relatively firm.
I am now at the point where I am effectively unable to hold onto the cigar so I am calling it quits. One hour and thirty-two minutes of smoke time for the El Santo have passed.
Near Perfect Burn and Draw
Salty notes in first third
Bitter notes from start to finish
Ammonia in Final Third