Today we’ll be reviewing the San Cristobal Ovation with Clinton. Super stoked about it, and amped to be here with this outstanding BOTL to provide a well-rounded review for everyone!
Clinton described the Ovation last week as his favorite cigar from this year’s IPCPR conference in July. Although I have mixed feelings for Ashton’s San Cristobal line, I’ve only heard great things regarding the Ovation.
@SSGSevier54 on Instram says, “So far, I can say this… Chocolate, espresso, coffee, just enough red pepper to know it’s there, and heavy malt notes! And I’m not even done with the first third… Holy cow it’s fantastic!!”
San Cristobal Ovation First Third
Popcorn, Hay, Pepper
Clinton: Sweet tobacco and hay. Wet, fermented hay. The cold dry is kind of musty with some of the hay as well.
Dave: The only thing I can add is a kettle corn aroma off the foot. The cap of both of ours has a different brown tone than the rest of the wrapper.
Clinton: I can see the popcorn, especially when paired with the Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout. Sweet popcorn, yet not quite kettle corn. The pepper was present in the first few puffs but mellows out quickly. The retrohale yields more of those sweet hay notes, but it’s a little too harsh to enjoy thoroughly.
At the first inch, more sweetness comes through and the popcorn subsides. The 1776 brown ale brings out sourness and eliminates the popcorn notes altogether.
Throughout the first third, it’s been pretty consistent. The popcorn faded into leather, and I’m loving how sweet and smooth it is. Roasted coffee also pops up late in the first third.
Dave: Definitely getting a popcorn taste off the first several puffs. The smoke is dry, and there’s plenty pepper notes going around. Sometimes it’s flavor-forward and I think it’s like the pepper used at italian restaurants in grinders (all three) and other times it’s on the finish and lingers on the tongue. There’s a little dry cocoa powder at times as well. The Ovation begins as more savory than sweet.
Depending on the choice of beer, the popcorn runs the gambit of those holiday popcorn tins – sweet, regular, and powdered cheddar.
The retrohale started off fairly harsh, burning the nostrils more than what I would expect, but around the 1 1/2 inch mark it flips the script and becomes pleasantly smooth. The burn line remains very crisp throughout. Around the same time, leather, cocoa, and hay rises to the top of the flavor wheel for me.
San Cristobal Ovation Second Third
Popcorn, Leather, Hay, Coffee, Cherry
Clinton: Sweetness continues to build in the second third, and there does seem to be cinnamon on the finish. With the chocolate stout, cherry notes also appear. Tart cherry.
Sweet leather and coffee is what I’m getting near the midway point. The Ovation is mostly consistent throughout the first two thirds.
Such a smooth stick!
Dave: Immediately after the first ash drops, the popcorn flavor is still present in the background. What used to be a banquet of gourmet popcorn is varying between traditional popcorn and leather with a sweet spice. Might be cinnamon.
The second third to me is very much like the first third. Differing degrees of popcorn and leather develop with a rich tobacco finish. The Ovation continues to mellow out as it burns, providing velvety smooth smoke that becomes progressively sweeter towards the band.
Sammy Smith fashions more of a Swiss Miss hot chocolate profile for me while good ole Root Beer returns more leather. Letting it sit for a minute, I come back to much of the same with a little mint on the finish. Whoa!
The pepper hasn’t been present since the first third.
San Cristobal Ovation Last Third
Leather, Questionable Mint, Tobacco
Clinton: The sweetness present in the second third is on the decline, and the overall experience is becoming richer again in the last third. Other than that, there’s not really much to say about this cigar – it’s just good. Mostly leather.
I think I’m getting a little mint towards the end like Dave – but it’s more like the coolness from the mint, not the minuteness.
Dave: The last third begins with a sweet tobacco profile and an underlying cocoa/mint – think subtle chocolate mint ice cream. Leather and tobacco dominate the last third.
Within the last 1 1/2 inches, espresso comes forward pretty heavy. The Ovation handles heat pretty damn well, though, and there’s very little signs of bitterness. The entire profile also builds like an encore.
Not much variation
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