Size: 5 x 52 “Belicoso”
Today we start Cuban Week and take our first look at the San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008). A gift from a reader.
“San Cristobal de la Habana was officially launched in Havana on November 20, 1999. It was named after the original name of Havana which dates back to the 16th century.
“Before the Revolution, a brand by the name of San Cristobal de la Habana existed, and it was produced until the Revolution. However, this new brand is completely unrelated and not a resurrection of the old brand.
“The brand initially launched with 4 cigars (El Morro, El Principe, La Fuerza, and La Punta). In 2004, to celebrate the brand’s fifth anniversary, 3 additional cigars were produced for the V Anniversary Humidor and eventually released for public sale. These new cigars, the Officios, Mercaderes and Muralla, also feature an additional “La Casa del Habano” band as these cigars were only available at La Casa del Habano retailers.”
“San Cristóbal de la Habana was the original name of Havana, Cuba’s capital city, when it was founded in 1519; San Cristóbal (St Christopher) in honour of Columbus and La Habana after an Indian name for the site.
“San Cristóbal de la Habana cigars were introduced in 1999 as a tribute to the city’s long history on the threshold of the new Millennium.
“Its range is composed of four vitolas with a light to medium flavour using tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region. Each is named after one of the fortresses that defended the city in the days when it was the hub of Spain’s Latin American Empire.”
Cigar Aficionado rated this at 19 for their Top 25 Cigars of 2008:
“San Cristobal de La Habana remains an off-the-radar brand that is sold mostly to devoted followers who buy their cigars in La Casa del Habano cigar stores. San Cristobal was first introduced in 1999 in hopes of attracting smokers who found mainstream Cuban smokes too strong. The cigars have always impressed us with their lovely aromatic qualities of dried flowers and delicate tobacco. The cigar delivers plenty of rich earth and coffee flavors that evolve to leather and mahogany undertones.”
I’m not an expert on Cuban cigars but one thing I have noticed consistently is how delicate and fragile they are. There is no weighty heft to them. Light in the loafers so to speak. The wrappers tend to be super thin and the filler always seems to be insufficient.
I’ve also noticed that Central American cigars are just as good as Cubans if not better. For the double reasoning that the Cuban expatriates are here and not in Cuba and the soil in the trifecta of Nicaragua, DR, and Honduras is superb.
The wrapper is pretty funky looking. Lots of wrinkles, bumps and lumps, sloppy seams, and loads of veins. Even the triple cap is sloppy. The wrapper has a semi oily caramel color and is very smooth to the touch.
Also, my buddy has been saving this cigar since 2008 only to land in the hands of the unscrupulous Katman.
SIZES AND PRICING:
El Morro 7 x 49 $19.00
El Principe 4.3 x 42 $7.00
La Fuerza 5.5 x 50 $14.00
Officios 5.25 x 43 (Introduced in 2004)
Mercaderes 6.5 x 48 (Introduced in 2004)
Muralla 7.125 x 48 (Introduced in 2004)
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
Along the shaft, aromas consist of sweetness, caramel, spice, and earthiness. At the foot and clipped cap, I find aromas of spice, caramel, floral notes and peaches.
The cold draw brings a bushel of sweetness, hay, and leather.
The draw is tight. So I gently insert the cigar awl and discover several plugs. They are clear now and things are peachy keen.
Right off the bat, it’s like the State of Israel: Honey and Cream. Smoke fills the room and I think I heard the cat cough and say under its breath, “Fuck you, Human.”
I can report a plethora of flavors immediately: Cream, honey, toastiness, nuts, vanilla bean, earthiness, fruit, and leather.
Uh oh. Canoe run. I quickly stop it in its tracks.
Spice begins at the ¾” mark. Black pepper slowly building.
The strength is a tick away from being solid medium body.
The San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) is extremely smooth and refined. Flavors are not bold, but rather; subtle and light.
I can taste warm bread coming out of the oven. More new flavors: a touch of chocolate and espresso. Very nuanced and light.
Very close to the start of the second third and things are bubbling. The spice is very strong, the honey and cream are extremely prominent, the cocoa and coffee are delicious with that added touch of the cream, and the earthy tobacco is pretty nice.
The ash hangs tough. I guess I need to eat my words about the filler. Every one of the 8 Cubans I have are all very light in the hand. They feel like cheap cigars yet nothing can be more to the contrary. The stick is a slow smoke which wouldn’t happen on an insufficiently filled cigar.
The char line worked out its issues and is now dead nuts.
Wood enters for the first time.
The strength is very mellow. It may have been stronger in 2008 but that was 7 years ago. I can’t believe that the dear reader that gave it to me held on to it for so long. Really amazed. That’s self-discipline and control. Something I ain’t got. Yes, I can see you nodding your heads.
The caramel surges. The San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) hit its sweet spot and its complexity. Flavors are circling my palate as if they are in a butter churn.
The vanilla is very strong as well. This is a candy bar cigar.
Finally. The strength hits a solid medium body. Although, it really doesn’t matter as the full flavor profile would be great no matter the strength of the cigar.
The nuttiness defines itself by becoming peanut butter. Chunky style. I love PB & J sandwiches. I buy the natural stuff with no sugar in it. The only thing I dread is getting the bottle home and stirring the oil that has seeped to the top of the jar. It’s always such a mess regardless how careful I am.
The San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) is an excellent cigar but to be honest here, any of the cigars on “The Katman’s Best 174 Boutique Brands/Blends in the $6-$9.50+ Range” are every bit as good if not better. Plus a lot more not on my list.
The mystique of forbidden fruit left this soul a decade ago. Sure. There are some fantastic Cuban blends out there but the rave that surrounds most of them are misguided. The boutique blends coming out over the last few years have been mind blowing.
The other thing I don’t get is that in such a poor country, the cigars are super expensive. You might as well by them on a trusted online store. Although, it would be a kick to visit Cuba. Something I doubt will happen for me and the Mrs.
Earlier, I said this was a slow smoke. I take it back. It’s taken me only 25 minutes to get to this point. I’m going to finish this cigar as if I were smoking a corona.
The cigar is very soft in the bottom two thirds. When I depress the cigar, cracking noises are heard.
Still, the San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) is a very pleasant adventure.
The flavor profile has become very subdued. Flavors are still complex but at this point only an experienced palate will be able to pick up the subtle flavors.
The strength has reverted to mild body instead of medium.
This will be short as getting down to the nub of a belicoso is tough.
The char line has required constant touch ups for some while now. Again, what happened?
I could blame it on the extensive aging but I don’t think that’s it.
I’m impressed that at this late stage of the smoking experience, the San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) has rebuffed any harshness or heat. Cool as a cuke.
The draw is too tight. Out comes the cigar awl. Major change up for the good. This help return the flavor profile to upstanding.
Flavors come rushing back. Funny. The draw was tight for only a couple minutes and I thought I dare not stick a metal rod down it for fear of wrapper cracks. But the surgery was successful.
A major transition occurs. Sweet Spot 2.0. Peanut butter is running the show but there is also a grape element that completes the PB & J sandwich.
The strength takes a giant leap and goes from mild to medium+ body and brings some nicotine with it. It can’t be the release of the tight draw, can it?
I take back what I said earlier. This is a monster blend. My only disappointment is that it didn’t come until the last third instead of the beginning of the cigar. I read a couple reviews of this cigar when it came out and they report that the first third, or so, is sort of bland. Therefore, this just may be the modus operandi of the cigar’s flavor profile.
I grab my Xistix roach clip for cigars because I’m going to try and get as much as I can from this flavor profile.
All of a sudden, wrapper problems exist. The seams come loose.
My buddy, who wants to remain anonymous, did a stand up job of keeping this cigar in fine shape for all those years.
With an inch to go, or less, the San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) is still pumping out flavor.
A delightful cigar.
You gotta be nuts to pay $13.00 for this cigar. Sure, it was fun and it tasted pretty good at the last third; but the cigar, like most Cubans, needs extensive humidor time. Maybe not 7 years but at least a couple years.
If the San Cristobal de La Habana La Punta (2008) had started out like the last third, I would highly recommend this cigar. They are still for sale everywhere. But the price point vs. quality doesn’t mesh.
As a gifted treat, this was great fun.
Something off topic. Got my Social Security today. Which means cigar buying time.
I had researched for days what I could get with my limited budget.
The first thing I bought was a fantastic special from Best Cigar Prices. A 20 count box of Aging Room Small Batch M356 robustos for $158.99. But the kicker is that they throw in another 20 count sampler for $14.99. All great cigars from Rafael Nodal. Including the Aging Room Bin No. 1. That ended up costing $4.35 per cigar.
The second thing I bought was a mish mosh of 5 packs from CI. I bought a box of the new Hoyo de Monterrey Edicion de Cumpleanos 150. Also 5 packs of the following: La Perla Habana 1515, Primer Mundo Toro Taster Sampler, and a Guerra Habano Toro 10-Pack. All for $140.
And lastly, my Cigar Federation Cigar of the Month Club selection of 5 great boutique cigars.
I spent $347. 80 cigars that averaged $4.34 per stick.
The wife allowed me a $150 budget this month as our utility bills were down. And the rest came from readers and manufacturer and online store ad fees.
Now I shall mull over what I will review tomorrow. Probably the Ramon Allones Specially Selected.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS