Origin : Cuba
Format : Minuto
Size : 110 x 16.67 mm (4.3 x 42)
Box code : URG MAY 10
Price : ~$4.25 each
More info about purchasing San Cristobal de la Habana cigars...
Added in 1999, San Cristobal de la Habana is one of the newest Cuban marcas. The regular production line consists of only four vitolas, each named after one of the forts that guarded Havana in the Spanish colonial days. As a 110 x 42 minuto, El Principe is the smallest of the line; however, its small size disguises a large flavor bomb that makes for an excellent short smoke. El Principes have a reputation of a good "fresh" Cuban, and the one I reviewed had only about 16 months of age. This review was done outside: the temperature was about 74F, the sky was clear, there was a slight breeze, and the ambient humidity was 71%. I paired this cigar with tap water.
Visually, this cigar is an absolute treat. The colorado claro wrapper has just a light oily sheen, and feels silky smooth to the touch. The seams are invisible, and there are no major veins that cause concern. The triple cap is excellently applied. The cigar does not have a strong scent, but there are faint hints of tobacco, earth, and barnyard.
The cigar feels appropriately firm along its entire length and the foot looks well-packed; however, there is an obvious fold in the tobacco at the foot. A pattern in the tobacco at the foot often indicates that the cigar will have burn issues, and this pattern was no exception as there were two major burn issues that needed to be corrected during the smoke. Furthermore, after one ashing I could see the burn cone was very off-center; this also contributed to burn issues and was not ideal. The draw was perfect and consistent from beginning to end.
As I stated earlier, El Principe packs a lot of flavor into its small package. Although the pre-light draw tasted only of grassy tobacco, once lit the cigar burst into a rich taste of cream and honey. The smoke is smooth--I retrohale every puff--and the finish is very light on the palate. As I continue smoking, a very unique vanilla/nutty flavor enters the profile, and these three flavors--cream, honey, and vanilla/nuts--stay present throughout most of the smoke; however, with every puff they appear in different amounts, making each puff unique and exciting. About halfway through the flavors grow a bit muted for five or six puffs, but then they return to their original richness. Eventually the vanilla/nuts fades off and is replaced by an earthy taste, and the honey starts to come and go. With about an inch left the cigar starts to show its youth, and a harshness appears that quickly builds and signals the end of the smoke. Throughout the smoke the body steadily increased, beginning at a low medium and finishing at a medium+.
At just over $4 each and lasting about 80 minutes (with a 42 ring gauge, I smoke these somewhat slowly to keep them from burning too hot), El Principe hits a sweet spot of price, smoke time, and flavor.
Overall Rating :
The Habanos catalog offers a number of excellent short smokes--you'd be hard-pressed to find an afficionado who doesn't enjoy the Partagas Short or Montecristo No. 5. However, the San Cristobal El Principe holds its own against both of these big names. The flavors are rich and enjoyable, and the constant slight variations within the overall flavor make every puff unique. At a price that won't break the bank, these are definitely worth having on hand as an excellent short smoke option.
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