After we reviewed the San Cristobal de la Habana La Punta, I thought it would be interesting to compare it with another vitola from the brand.
Therefore, I will be reviewing the San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe by covering the following topics:
You can use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to learn more.
- Brand: San Cristobal de la Habana
- Range: El Principe
- Reviewed Vitolas: 4⅜ x 49 Petit Corona
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Factory: Havana, Cuba
- Handmade: Yes
- Body: Medium
- Estimated Smoking Time: 40 Minutes
- Pricing: $8 / Single
As mentioned above, we previously reviewed the La Punta cigar from the same brand. While this one was released when San Cristobal de la Habana was revived in 1999, the El Principe was launched five years later in 2004.
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San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe Look & Feel
- Wrapper Hue: Milk Chocolate
- Rolling Consistency: Mostly Straight
- Spring: Firm
- Aromas: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Terracotta
The first thing that you may notice is that the El Principe is a box-pressed cigar. Furthermore, it has a straight roll with few soft spots and a firm spring. It also has a pale milk chocolate hue. The oils of the sheen aren’t overt, but it does glimmer slightly in the light.
Its veins can be a bit on the coarse side and somewhat rustic. As for the aromas on the foot, you’re looking at a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and terracotta.
San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe Review
As with all Cuban cigars, these are acclimated in another Boveda acrylic humidor, which is calibrated at 65% as opposed to 69% RH for New World cigars. They are stored there for three weeks to ensure that they are prepared for the review and monitored with a Boveda Butler.
- Draw: Ideal
- Aromas: Cinnamon, Grapefruit Zest, Nutmeg
Generally, the El Principe is less tightly rolled than the La Punta so you can expect a more comfortable airflow. The flavours are not quite as rich in the dry draw, though.
Furthermore, the notes are quite similar. We again experience cinnamon but instead of the suede and terracotta on the La Punta, the El Principe is zestier with grapefruit and nutmeg.
1st Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Bay Leaf, Lemon Zest, Coffee Grounds
Like the La Punta, the El Principe has a great burn with strong ash. The burn line isn’t wavy but it can be slightly wonky. It’s also a zesty little cigar! Either the blend is slightly different or the flavour variation is brought on by using different parts of the tobacco leaves.
The El Principe also has a stronger body from the get-go. While the La Punta builds up from mild to medium-plus by the final third, the El Principe is medium right off the bat.
It delivers notes of charred bay leaf, lemon zest, and coffee grounds. The latter produces substance near the back of the palate whereas the former two create an aromatic zestiness on the tip of the tongue.
2nd Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Citrus Thyme, Turmeric, Pepper
The body crescendoed towards medium-plus strength early in the second third. However, it soon settled to produce a more balanced composition. Retrohaling stung the nostrils and it produced strong hits of nicotine.
By the halfway point, it calms down and produces a spicy bouquet of flavour. Citrus thyme dominates the flavour profile and feels like an accord of the lemon and bay leaf from the previous third. Meanwhile, there are notes of turmeric and pepper. The former was also detected in the La Punta whereas the pepper is mostly noticeable in the retrohale.
You’ll also note the excellent burn in the image above. We have a perfectly straight burn line and an impressive length of ash, given the cigar’s small ring gauge.
Final Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Rosewood, Olibanum, Labdanum
The final third is far more subdued than the second. The body has settled into a consistent medium, and it offers a resinous, musky experience with a hint of wood. It is reminiscent of rosewood, olibanum, and labdanum. The olibanum, also known as myrrh, is quite vanillary. Meanwhile, labdanum is very musky.
While not as complex as the La Punta, it gives you quite a ride given its small size. Its lifecycle is wild and takes you on an exciting journey. The mouthfeel is smooth while the astringency is perfectly balanced. That being said, there is additional stimulation towards the front of the palate.
The finish is long and it lingers nicely on the palate once finished. Its residual scent in the room is nice and present without being overbearing.
- Ash Backbone: Very Strong
- Burn Angle: Straight
- Temperature: Warm
- Draw: Ideal Airflow
- Final Smoking Time: 40 Minutes
As for the draw, it’s ideal all the way through the cigar, but in terms of temperature, it can warm up quite quickly if you rush through it. As it’s a small cigar, it’s a little bit deceptive and you might hurry your way through it and take lots of puffs.
Take your time and you’ll probably get about 40 minutes of smoke out of this. In general, though, expect around 30 minutes of smoke time. Try not to rush as it will get too hot for it to be pleasant.
The burn angle is straight overall. And in terms of ash backbone, I did get some very nice ash on this, especially in the first third and in the second third too.
The band is just like any other San Cristobal de la Habana cigar. Its classical and stylish, giving the impression of heritage despite being a brand that has technically existed since 1999.
Similarly, the box will be of the same design as other vitolas. It’s essentially a cardboard box that is being plastered with stickers and decals to give it that distinctive Cuban appearance.
As for the value, buying Cuban cigars, if you’re in the USA, is always a legally grey area. There are online retailers where you can have them shipped over to the USA. However, I can’t condone it due to the legality and being a bit of a complicated issue.
However, retailers like Bellhop Cigars, Montefortuna, and iHavanas, who are all trustworthy, sell boxes of 25 cigars for around $155. Therefore, you can probably find them for as little as $6.20 each if you buy a small bulk.
For such a small cigar could be regarded as somewhat pricey, but then again, it does offer you a very pleasant experience.
Then when it comes to the occasion of this cigar, it is a very versatile cigar that can be smoked casually. If you’re short on time, and you just want to have a nice little cigar between several activities or during a lunchtime period, this is a great option.
Personally, I would regard it as an ideal smoke for the early afternoon all the way to the early evening. It’s a great option, actually, for after a business lunch, to accompany a coffee, or even to proceed a meal as an aperitif.
San Cristobal de la Habana El Principe Pairings
Sticking with the business lunch idea, I considered options like a rib-eye steak or even a honey and soy duck salad. I believe that this would have the characteristics that would pair beautifully with the cigar or be great for proceeding it and then being as a digestif.
Alternatively, you could easily accompany it with salted peanuts, if you’re just having an apéritif and a beer.
Then when it comes to beverages, consider espresso and some grappa bianca. You can either have them separately or have them together as an ammazzacaffè or caffè corretto. Those would be great options, indeed.
If you’re going to have it as a digestif after a business lunch, you could just skip the grappa altogether and have it with an espresso coffee.
Alternatively, rooibos tea would be a good choice as would Earl Grey tea. So if you’re more of a tea drinker, consider those. And then, finally, perhaps consider an añejo rum. For example, a Flor de Caña 18 would be an excellent choice.
The La Punta’s fiesty younger sibling, the El Principe is an invigoratingly pleasant blend. It’s a perfect pick-me-up following lunch that won’t take too much of your time if you are on the move.
"A zesty little cigar that offers the perfect break on a busy day."
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