San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe

San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe

Origin : CubaSan Cristobal de la Habana
Format : Minuto
Size : 110 x 16.67 mm (4.3 x 42)
Box code : URG MAY 10
Price : ~$4.25 each

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.

Appearance : Rating: ★★★★★
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.

Construction : Rating: ★★★½☆
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.

San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe

Flavor : Rating: ★★★★☆
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+.

Value : Rating: ★★★★½
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 : 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.

9 Comments on “San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe”

  1. Congrats on enjoying this cigar. I didn’t. Mine were a one trick pony, and the trick was pretty mediocre. No thrill, no complexity, for the entire two year old box. I probably got a bad batch. Don’t remember code or year.

  2. Great review. Thanks. As someone who has enjoyed the Partagas Shorts for years, I can’t wait to try San Cristobal Principe.

  3. Hdownunder says:

    Great review and this has been one of my goto cigars for about a year and rarely if ever disappointed with this little medium bodied beauty. half way through the second of my last two boxes dated May/08.

  4. These cigars never have failed to surprise me in a good way. They are quite consistent but I’ve never learnt to slow down and enjoy the depth of flavour since they are soo very good power smoked.

  5. My Review of the San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe

    San Cristobal is normally one of my least favorite Habanos lines. I find them to be very salty and lacking in depth and Cuban musky flavor compared to some of my favorite Habanos. This stick came from a box with over two years of age, so I have an open mind going in.

    OK, so I start the review ragging on the cigar before I smoke it and I am getting my just desserts. The draw is a little tight, but the burn is dead even yielding tons of creamy leather flavors. There is a core of earth and tobacco that develops as I smoke.

    As I smoke further I am rewarded with rich dark coffee and a touch of licorice on the finish. I have to nub this cigar because the coffee and licorice flavors just keep intensifying and get better and better…

    OK, so while I don’t completely take back what I said on the SCdlH line in general, this box of El Principes is turning out to be a gem that I want to keep on aging and occasionally savoring.

    Rating: 93 (A)

  6. Seedeater56 says:

    This cigar seems to excite some mixed reviews; and I’m afraid my experience wasn’t the greatest either.

    Although the initial impression was of a well constructed cigar, I found the wrapper coming loose within a couple of minutes. This might be down to storage of course.

    The very first draw – which incidentally was way too hard for fun – was very peppery with not much else going on. From there it unfortunately did not improve much; I’ve rarely had to struggle with getting draw quite so badly and can only conclude that this was a “Friday” cigar.

    Interestingly, I had a chat with my favourite stockist in St James’ whose very words were: “cigar smoking mustn’t become a chore”, quite so!

    In sum, other than the pepperiness, the cigar didn’t offer any taste challenges and had it not been stubbornness born of the expense I might well have given this up. That said; I’ll keep an open mind and try again sometime, as some of the other reviews are so positive I can only guess I happened on a dud.

  7. I will agree that this is not a bad cc for the price,but at similar price I’d go for the Partagas Aristocrats.IMO a better cigar in every respect.

  8. Luckily I found a NOV 00 box and smoked a few.Some of the flavors in the review are there but muted and there is a constant bitterness from the start,not unplesant,more like slightly bitter almonds.Most have slightly tight draw.Medium to full all the way but smooth and with great smell in the room.OK,different than shorts and no.5 so a good addition in the rotation.

  9. Nicely flavoured for me, attractive wrapper & cap, but tends to have a tight draw & can need a re-light. A few spice notes like a Hoyo, some of the woody-nature aspect of Romeo y Julieta tho not as strong, & an evolution of tastes keeping it interesting. Start is especially nice but can need a cigar-piercing-tool poke to relax the stick.

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