Guantanamera Cristales - Cuban Cigar Review


The Guantanamera Cristales are one of the lighter bodied Cigars on the Cuban market that come in a clear plastic tube; a unique feature that belongs to this brand only. I sat down this evening with this Cigar. Here are my thoughts.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Presentation
  3. Lighting
  4. First Third
  5. Second Third
  6. Final Third
  7. Would I suggest this Cigar to the Novice Smoker?
  8. Conclusion & Scoring

1. Introduction

For today's smoking I'm going to try a brand that I haven't sampled before. Guantanamera are one of the brands that I have seemed to have missed during my Smoking odyssey. One of the cheaper brands out of Cuba, the packaging and make-up of the Cigar suggests that Habanos SA go for the middle of the cheaper, 'down and dirty' brands such as the Jose L Piedra and Quintero and the medium priced brands such as El Rey De Mundo and Ramon Allones. At around £5.00 a stick in the United Kingdom, these won't break the bank and are targeted for the novice or irregular smoker.

Because they are being targeted at this sector of the market, they are at the light to medium body of the flavour scale. Established in 2002, no doubt Habanos SA have established the Guantanamera brand with these ideals in mind.

2. Presentation

The Cigar itself comes in a somewhat attractive clear plastic tube, with some minimal branding. Opening the case there's no real noticeable smell. Maybe a faint tobacco bouquet, but nothing to indicate any kind of strength, age, or quality. One of the first things you notice when you inspect the Cigar is that the head has been cut for you. No doubt another thing Habanos decided they should do to help the novice smoker get their leg on the smoking ladder. The wrapper itself is in quite good nick with a dark, resonant, wrapper. There's not that many veins - I've seen higher profile, more expensive Cigars with worse wrappers so that in itself is a positive note. The cut cap has some rough spots, but they look solid enough not to trouble the smoke itself. Therefore, I would go to say that so far so good; I would think the basics are in place to entice the novice smoker.

Guantanamera Cristales in it's clear plastic presentation tube
Guantanamera Cristales in it's clear plastic presentation tube
The head doesn't very tidy but shouldn't hinder smoking
The head doesn't very tidy but shouldn't hinder smoking

3. Lighting

With the head already cut, it was straight to inspect the draw. The draw was very easy going without any resistance. It was interesting to note that there wasn't that much flavour coming from the Cigar when I tested for the draw which was a concern as usually at this point you can determine if there's going to be some kind of complex flavour profile.

The Guantanamera Cristales with it's dark wrapper
The Guantanamera Cristales with it's dark wrapper

Lighting the Cigar wasn't an issue, and within the minute I was away. The first few draws on the newly lit Cigars was very light, with a little faint touch of tobacco. Let me stop right here and say that I'm not the biggest fan of light Cigars when they don't have a suave flavour. For a light Cigar to keep my attention it needs to have a bouquet and somewhat of a complexity. Unfortunately the Guantanamera did not have any kind of substantial profile that makes me think that I might be enjoying a good hour's smoke.

I've had Cigars in the past that are slow starters and develop unexpectedly when I reach around half way. The trouble is these kinds of Cigars are usually in the high end price bracket and the Guantanamera is near the bottom. Things are starting to look not so good.

4. First Third

Although the Cigar was smoking fine, there wasn't much going on to note in terms of flavour. With a faint taste of tobacco, the flavour profile is more of wood. It's a shame that there's no sweetness to this Cigar, like a Nicaraguan would have for example. The burn is fine; there's no real issue which was a relief. I would have liked at least something here to give the impression that there's going to be something to enjoy; something that would make me think that I should stick through smoking this Cigar to the nub.

An even burn, something I can give the Cristales some credit for
An even burn, something I can give the Cristales some credit for.

5. Second Third

I have been smoking around twenty minutes now, with not much change during the second third from the first. The predominant, wood flavours still rule, but rule very meekly. There's nothing here to capture your attention. To it's credit, the burn is steady and even, but I would trade a good burn for a tasty smoke. While smoking this I found myself doing other things such as browsing the web or catching up on some e-mail. I think I enjoy classifying some e-mails as spam more than I enjoy actually smoking this Cigar.

6. Final Third

The end of the Guantanamera Cristales is close, and it can't come quick enough. I think I'm happy that this Cigar is finished. There's nothing here that I would say that I actually liked. Sometimes the enjoyment of smoking is just that you can smoke and I think that even this quality was diminished with this Cigar. What a shame. Laying down this Cigar I saw no development, no good quality flavours. Obviously everything in this Cigar is second rate and it shows badly. Around forty minutes in, I've gotten to the end of the Cristales. I don't like dumping a Cigar half way in, so I'm going to persevere and smoke to the end. (It won't be much of a review if I decided just to finish right here would it? ha ha)

The Guantanamera Cristales coming to it's end
The Guantanamera Cristales coming to it's end

7. Would I suggest this Cigar to the Novice Smoker?

There's no doubt that this Cigar has been placed in the market with it's price and flavour profile to appeal to the novice smoker. However, I feel as a smoke that this Cigar would offer a novice smoker no experience of the enjoyment of smoking. If I was someone who was new to the world of Cuban Cigars and had a small amount of money they would like to invest in a few sticks, I would suggest going for the machine made versions of the more popular brands such as Romeo y Julieta and Partagas. These two brands would give the novice smoker a much more honest outlook as a first smoke. For instance, the Romeo y Julieta Petit Princes is a good medium bodied smoke that costs around £7 in the United Kingdom. If a fuller bodied Cigar was in order then I would suggest a Partagas Tres Petit Coronas.

8. Conclusion & Scoring

Overall, a disappointing Cigar. I felt that I had been let down by what I had smoked. There was no substance, no real flavour profile and no development. It seemed that Habanos SA decided to be a bit of a con-artist and wrap this Cigar in a glitzy clear plastic case and not tell anyone how terrible the tobacco inside is.

While researching the brand for this review, I was somewhat unsurprised to find out that this brand had been discontinued in 2005. I'm not sure if it was due to lack of demand, or that the quality was not to the standard that Habanos SA were expecting.

If you ever walk into a Cigar shop and see these for sale, I would step away and look towards the slightly more expensive, yet much higher quality Cigars. Time's too short to smoke bad Stogies.

  • Appearance: 09/15
  • Draw & Burn: 17/20
  • Flavour & Complexity: 08/30
  • Overall: 15/35
  • Total: 49/100
Final Score:
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Cristales

Cigar Name: Cristales
Size: Long Corona
Factory Vitola: Cristales Mano
Ring Gauge: 41
Length (mm): 150mm

Status: Currently Available.
Information last updated on Saturday, 5th July 2014.
blog comments powered by Disqus