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
Vitola: Cristales (5.9 x 41)
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
• 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
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.