At least so far, Ashton has stuck to a pretty simple and easily decipherable formula for expanding its San Cristobal line. The original, which was their first collaboration with Don Pepin Garcia, was a Nicaraguan alternative to the Ashton VSG and is the full-bodied cigar in the line. This was followed by the Connecticut-wrapped San Cristobal Elegancia, intended as a mild version of the brand. Until now, there was nothing for smokers wanting a medium-bodied cigar but presumably unable or unwilling to purchase anything except a San Cristobal.
Enter the new Revelation. Yet another collaboration with Pepin Garcia, this one is the first San Cristobal to be box pressed (except for the obligatory 60- and 64-ring gauge sizes which we will, of course, completely ignore). Comprised of all-Nicaragian filler but wrapped in a mellower, medium-brown Sumatra leaf that comes from the same plants as VSG wrappers, it's an undeniably nice looking product. The bands are big and ornate and that no matter how you hold the cigar, the eyes on that damn parrot follow you wherever you turn. It's unsettling but then again, we firmly believe that if you absolutely must have a cigar band it should look something like this.
The first impression upon lighting was of equal parts richness and smoothness, leading us to initially believe there may be some Dominican tobacco in the blend. The draw was very good on all samples we smoked but one, which was just slightly tight. Whatever veins there were on the milk chocolatey wrapper were smoothed out by the box press. This is neither heavy or light in the hand, which perfectly suits its intended mission to be a flavorful but not overwhelming smoke. Darn if this cigar doesn't fit nicely into into the San Cristobal lineup after all!
We hoped to scoop Cigar Aficionado and be ont of the first to review this smoke, but no such luck. They scored it a solid 92 out of 100 points in their April issue. We also feel it's a very good cigar with a distinctiveness lacking in the popular, mass-market brands. It's classically earthy, as you'd expect from Nicaraguan tobacco, but the flavors all ride on a backbone of creamy-textured wood. It's very pleasant and simple if smoked offhandedly. Pay attention to the finish however and, depending on your palate and choice of beverage, you may pick out notes ranging from mild leather to Irish coffee and even, delightfully, roasted peanut skins.
We're left with very positive impressions of this cigar. It's pleasant and easygoing enough for the golf course, but interesting enough to be enjoyed more carefully. The original San Cristobal is a bit of a brute by comparison. In the end, this seems to be the sweet spot in the San Cristobal line and it easily snuck into our next-to-highest rating category. This isn't a cynical attempt to capitalize on a hole in the San Cristobal product line, it's a good cigar that stands on its own. Well done.
6.25 x 52
W: Ecuador Sumatra
Rich but uncommonly smooth, the Revelation is easygoing enough for nearly any occasion but reveals pleasant complexity if given the chance. Tasty and fun.