Cigar Reviews

Guantanamera Cristales

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Reaching into my humidor this week I picked out something I’ve sort of been avoiding but I decided to have some fun and go for it out of curiosity. As far as the Cuban world goes, the Guantanamera Cristales are regarded as sort of the black sheep that are just there to lure in some tourists because of their cost. But let’s find out some more about what exactly these are.

The name Guantanamera should be pretty easy for most people to recognize. It came from the title of a famous song by the Cuban composer, Joseito Fernandez in 1928. This was a hugely popular song around the world and very much became a representation of Cuba, especially during it’s push in the 1960’s. As for age of the brand, this is a fairly young cigar label as it was only introduced to the world in 2002. They were apparently available in Cuba for awhile before that, but no where else.

Location wise, the Guantanmera cigars get their tobacco from Vuelta Arriba, the second most important tobacco-growing region in Cuba. Every vitola in the line-up is referred to as “mecanizado” which simply means that they are machine made. This is where interest dies off to most aficionados. The fact that these are not hand-made makes them a sort of voodoo. But this also helps the Cuban market by offering a very low priced cigar that is still considered to be “Cuban” and it has actually been a pretty big success.

The obvious market here is people who just want to have a Cuban cigar but don’t want to spend a ton of money to try one. Also, they are touted as being very mild which also makes them appealing to newer cigar smokers. Now I do have a concern with the particular ones that I received. They were given to me as a gift and I’m not 100% sure of their authenticity. The band and packaging is definitely different from the ones I’ve seen in stores. But after some web searching, it seems a lot of European stores have the same pictures. It is possible the band is different or it’s changed recently but trying to find news about these seems pretty rare. Either way, lets see how it goes. And if anyone has had/seen this particular band/tube, I’d love to know if it was real or not.

Cigar: Guantanamera Cristales
Drink: Coffee
Vitola: Cristales (5.9 x 41)
Wrapper: Cuban?
Binder: Cuban?
Filler: Cuban?
Price: About $2 in Cuba
Burn Time: Just over an hour

• This is a pretty rough looking cigar, lots of medium veins along with plenty of bumps and folds in the wrapper
• There is a perfect amount of spring to the cigar when you squeeze it
• The cap is actually pre-cut but it looks like it had a single layer cap on it
• The foot seems to have some gaps in the filler, not too tightly packed in there
• You would think they would draw test a pre-cut cigar but I guess not, I’m getting a pretty tight draw on this one and may need to cut if it doesn’t open up
• The draw seemed to open up on it’s own so I didn’t need to cut the cigar at all

• Toasting the cigar was very quick and easy, no problems here at all
• Right off the bat you could see some really wacky burning going on, it was spiking up the wrapper like icicles
• Despite the sort of icicle spiking, the burn has actually been coming along fairly nicely, it keeps correcting itself without my help
• Through the first half I’ve had some good luck with no burn issues at all
• The rest of the cigar burned with no major problems at all

Smoke & Ash:
• The smoke coming off the Guantanamera Cristales is very very light and I’m needing to take a few draws to get a decent quantity here
• There is a light resting smoke from the cigar when I lay it in the ashtray, very woodsy aroma to it
• So far the ash is fairly clean, a bit messy but no flaking
• For the most part, the color of the ash has been a consistent dark grey
• I tapped off the ash just short of an inch, it’s a bit windy out here so I didn’t want it to end up on my laptop
• The smoke volume picked up a bit after the halfway mark
• Ash continued to be just short of an inch with a little bit flaking here and there

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper has a touch of a woodsy aroma but I’m getting mostly a barnyard type of small
• The foot brings more of the barnyard aroma out, very much like hay
• On pre-light draw, I’m getting a mix of wood and some tarty sort of flavors
• The first few draws are giving me mostly woodsy flavors and a bit of a charred note, hoping that goes away
• You can immediately tell this is a mild cigar, it’s got very little punch to it
• Even on the retrohale I’m picking up no bite, but the smooth woodsy finish is nice
• Thankfully the charred flavor subsided but I haven’t really gotten much more than a light woodsy flavor through the whole first half
• Getting a bit more body as I pass the first half but we’re still only knocking at the door of the medium range
• I’m picking up a tad bit of white pepper and spices now, not too strong but enough to at least change the flavor a bit
• The spice kept on through the last bit but the woodsy flavors are still primary and getting pretty boring at this point
• The ending finished off pretty bland, the some woodsy flavors. Not bad, just got boring to me

Final Thoughts:
Now I’ll be honest, I came into this cigar with very low expectations. I know this isn’t a fancy or highly regarded cigar but I had to give it a try. To my surprise, it wasn’t terrible as I would have expected. Having said that, it wasn’t great either. What I did get from this is a mild and very one-dimensional cigar. For anyone that has had a few good cigars in their day they will find this terribly boring, But I can completely see the appeal of these cigars for the very occasional smoker. It’s very mild and has a soft profile that won’t scare away new smokers. It’s like the entry level/amateur cuban. And considering it is machine made, it actually burned quite well. So although I may not buy these myself, they are a pretty good gift or purchase for a new cigar enthusiast.

It’s coffee, nothing fancy here. It tasted like decent coffee. My wife made it and it was still hot, not even sure what beans she used but it tastes good. I prefer a really dark/strong coffee but this one was more of a medium roast for sure. Did it pair well? I’d say you can’t get much better. The very light/mild flavors of the Guantanamera Cristales went perfect with this lighter coffee, anything stronger and it would have drowned out the flavors even more. Might even suggest going for water or sparkling water as a good pairing if you really want to taste the few flavors this cigar has.

Daniel T. (a.k.a. Dalamscius) is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If he's not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter


  1. jjo

    November 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Hey, are you sure Tony didn’t roll that? Just kidding, Tony, yours looked waaayyy better than that! Sounds like a novelty item for most smokers.

  2. czerbe

    November 30, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Nice review Dan, question do you run into a lot of fakes in Canada?

    • Dalamscius

      December 3, 2012 at 8:17 am

      We definitely do! Travel to Cuba is pretty common here, it’s cheap, it’s got sun, and you get tons of food and alcohol so a lot of people go.
      Of course, most of them are not avid cigar smokers but they all want to buy some Cubans just to try them. And most of them buy from someone who has the best “deal” but there is no such thing as a “deal” on Cubans. Most of them are right around the same price range so if you;re getting a crazy “deal”, chances are they are fake.
      So I’d say at least 75% of the people I know who bring back Cubans, end up being fakes,

  3. Lyndy

    February 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    This tourist fell for it. While cruising through the Caribbean, I wanted to pick up a couple of cuban cigars as gifts. Without knowing much about cigars (except for the occassional share with my nephew), I chose this cigar for it’s look and price – I know, the girlie way to shop. Just now popped off the cap for a sniff, and, yes, it does have a hay like smell. While I will still give them to the giftees, I will share your notes of the taste with them so they don’t expect too bold a flavor. Next time I will just pay the price for a couple of good Cubanos. Great review. Thanks.

  4. Steve

    October 20, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Absolutely spot on review! Thanks for taking the time to do this! I’m new to the whole ‘Cuban’ thing and had read some terrible reviews about this cigar. What I found is that for the price (about £5 each here in the UK), it’s not too bad at all! Sure, it’s no Cohiba but neithers the price which is ultimately why people will be drawn to this cigar. Very fair review! Too many cigar snobs on the web who slate the budget brands! Thanks again! Steve

  5. Ronald T

    March 21, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I just smok one myself that A friend brought me back from Cuba I personally concur with what he is saying in this article , I began to read the article at the moment that it started smoking from start to finish & it all was the same to me .

  6. Curtis

    May 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Just got a box of them it looks right too me got mine for the store not the street they are a lower end cigar but I still enjoy them

  7. chuck jabas

    May 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Smoking this now or i should say trying to get through it dame deal. It was gifted been in the humidor for a while. Definitely dont like almost 1/2way theough it dont think i can stand much more. Nice review

  8. MarkAnthony Carthen

    July 28, 2018 at 10:12 am

    A friend send me a box of 5 your cigars and I really enjoy them. So, I would like to sign up for emails.

  9. Eli

    August 1, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    $22 US at Cancun airport duty-free store for a 5 pack. Same packaging as in your picture. So, must be authentic. Thanks for the review. I am new to this whole cigar scene, And yes,. I went for it because of the price and that they are actually Cubans. What do you recommend I go for next ? To develop the right taste ?

  10. Yesenia Portorreal

    August 4, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I just came from Cuba yesterday and this is the bread and the box and the cigar are showing in your pictures that I was able to buy a San Martin Havana airport once you pass security so by the looks of it is original but I am not a smoker I bought it as a gift but I did ask that lady which one is the national brand of the country and this is what she offered she did mention some of them are handmade and some of them are machine made but I guess if you don’t know what you’re talking about they probably sell you the ones that are less popular so they can get rid of them

  11. Hank Sperber

    October 11, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Hi, Just got back from Havana,Cuba.10/10/2018
    Went to the Tropicana Show and I was given a Cristales Guantanamer Cigar at the door, The ladies were given a Carnation. At the table in the Premium Seats (table next to the stage), We were given a bottle of
    Havana Club 7yr Amber Rum.
    The show was fantastic.
    Have not smoked it yet,Still smoking Cohibas and Romeo and Juliet #2s

  12. Joe

    December 25, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    My aunt just brought me back a pack of five straight from Cuba. Yes my packaging looked exactly like yours!Thank for the review!

  13. Victor

    January 23, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    I received one from the Tropicana Show in Havana Cuba, and a bottle of Rum to enjoy the show with. Was Too busy enjoying the show for either the rum or the cigar. However the one I did received IN CUBA is identical to your pictures. Definitely Cuban. I did stop and purchase REAL Cuban cigars from the State owned stores. I have not had a chance to try them yet.

  14. Nikki

    February 17, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I also received Guantanamera Cristales and a bottle of rum from the Tropicana show in Havana Cuba…packaged identical to yours…its definitely real

  15. Farid

    February 18, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Those sold in Morocco are old

  16. Larry

    May 2, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I just got back from a week in Cuba, and while I was there, I thought I’d do a taste test of whatever cigars the resort’s shop would offer as singles. I’m not a cigar smoker, but I thought why not bring some home to enjoy with my buddies. Let my own taste buds decide what to buy. I tried too many to list, but that list included Romeo&, Monte Cristo, Belinda, etc and Guantanamera. Honestly, to me, I wasn’t able to differentiate much between them. I don’t believe my tastes for cigars are that refined yet. By the end of the week, I’d settled on a box of Romeo& as well as a box of Guantanamera, and at that price, you can’t be too wrong. If you are a newbie like me, you can’t go wrong with these.

  17. Terry

    April 13, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I have just found a cigar that my long deceased father received from Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the 1960’s. It is in a glass/plastic tube. The tube wrapper says “ Cristales 100% Tabasco Cubano “ and the band on the cigar says “ Royal Jamaica “. On the wrapper is printed “ RT. HON. PIERRE TRUDEAU “. I would be interested in your comments.

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