San Cristobal Cigars
The San Cristobal is the latest, and considered quite possibly to be the last new series of Cuban brand cigars. Launched in 1996, the brand was named after the original name of the famous Cuban cigar city, Havana. San Cristobal cigars boast four sizes (vitolas). Each one is named for one of the four fronts defending the city.
During the height of the city’s status as the center of the Spanish empire in Latin America, two fronts shone above the others – the El Morro and the La Fuerza. The names of these two fronts have been chosen for the completely new and unique sizes of the San Cristobal brand (translates to English as St. Christopher, possibly named after the famous explorer Christopher Columbus).
Christopher Columbus is credited as being the first person from Europe to have witnessed first hand the original smoking of tobacco leaves rolled into the shape of a cigar. Natives called the “cigar” a roll of tobacco. Because the island was controlled by Spain, the majority of immigrants to this “new land” were Spaniards. These immigrants immediately found out that the tobacco industry was their key to the future.
It is believed that stories brought back to Spain about the “rolled tobacco” is what inspired most of the Spaniards that emigrated to Cuba. The dreams of rich tobacco farms was similar to the gold rush experienced in North America. The only difference being that the island of Cuba is much smaller than North America, the word did not spread as far and the opportunities offered were quite limited and required much more hard work, compared to the opportunities the gold rush promised.
History of Havana
What is now known as the city of Havana, Cuba was founded in 1519 by early Spanish explorers. By the seventeenth century, it was already renown as one of the main Caribbean centers for ship-building. Today, the city is a thriving metropolis of over two million inhabitants, but the old center has been preserved as an interesting combination of Baroque and neoclassical monuments. In addition to that, there is a homogeneous ensemble of privately owned homes with elaborate arcades, beautiful balconies, exquisite wrought iron gates and marvelous gardens encased in meticulously crafted botanical courtyards.
The Havana harbor became a popular rest stop for Spanish Galleons laden with treasure on their journey across the ocean between the Old World and the New World. As a major ship building center, sailors could stop here to make repairs to their vessels and load up on food and supplies, as well as enjoy a bit of a change of scenery and absorb some of the local culture.
Many of the old buildings in Old Havana were left in ruins for many years, but quite a few have since been restored. Approximately one third of the buildings currently standing in the Old Havana section of the city date back to the early days.
The ancient city was burned and pillaged by Jacques de Sores, the French corsair known as “The Exterminating Angel” in 1555. The pirate faced little opposition and took the city easily, burning and plundering much of Havana to the ground.
After destroying the limited defense, de Sores was forced to leave empty handed, without the enormous riches he had thought he would find there. The city was left devastated. Throughout the fallowing years, the Spanish sent soldiers to rebuild Havana. Walls and fortresses were erected to the protect the city from future attacks. The first fortress to be built was the Castillo de la Fuerza. Construction began in 1558, and was supervised by one of the most talented engineers of the time, Bartolome Sanchez.
The look of Old Havana is similar to Cadiz and Tenerife. It was named by Alejo Carpentier as “de las columnas” which translates to English as “of the columns.” But, there are sorts of other interesting facets the area could have been named after such as the devastation and restoration, the famous gateways, the fabulous courtyards, or even the cool shades and intimate atmosphere. The government of Cuba has put forth an enormous effort to preserve and refurbish Old Havana.
The Launch of the San Cristobal Cigars
Some cigar aficionados list the launch of the San Cristobal as 1996, while other records state the date of the official launch as November 20, 1999 in Havana, Cuba.
There was another brand called the San Cristobal de la Habana prior to the Cuban Revolution. This version was produced up until the revolution and then discontinued. This new version is not related to the old version in any way. It not a resurrection of the previously produced brand of the same name.
The brand was initially introduced with four cigar lines (La Punta, La Fuerza, El Principe and El Morro). Too celebrate the fifth anniversary of the brand in 2004, three additional cigars were made for the special release edition called the V Anniversary Humidor. Eventually, this special edition was released and sold to the public. The new cigars were named Muralla, Mercaderes and Officios, and featured an additional band saying “La Casa del Habano” because the only retailers allowed to carry these cigars were the official La Casa del Habano stores.
San Cristobal Brand Cigars
This is a list of the commercially available San Cristobal vitolas including their size, official factory name and slang name.
San Cristobal Vitolas made by hand:
- El Morro – measures 7 1⁄4 inches long (184 mm) x 49 ring gauge, officially named the Paco, commonly called the double corona by smokers. They are packed in a Dress Box of twenty-five cigars and use a standard “A” band.
- El Principe – measures 4 3⁄8 inches long (111 mm) x 42 ring gauge, officially named the Minuto, commonly called the petit corona by smokers. They are packed in a Dress Box of twenty-five cigars and use the standard “A” band.
- La Fuerza – measures 5 1⁄2 inches long (140 mm) x 50 ring gauge, officially named the Gordito, commonly called the robusto extra by cigar aficionados. They are packed in a Dress Box of twenty-five cigars and use the standard “A” band.
- La Punta – measures 5 1⁄2 inches long (140 mm) x 52 ring gauge, officially named the Campana, commonly called the pyramid by cigar lovers. They are packed in a Dress Box of twenty-five cigars and use the standard “A” band.
- Mercaderes – measures 6 1⁄2 inches long (165 mm) x 48 ring gauge, officially named the Hermoso No. 1, commonly called the grand corona by smokers. It wore the standard “A” band and a “La Casa del Habano” band. They were packed in a Varnished Boite Nature Box of twenty-five cigars. The line was a special release in 2004 and released in 2006, and then discontinued in 2011. In 2006, the cigar was introduced as a La Casa Del Habano (LCDH), but as part of the new policy of all LCDH cigars to be released in limited numbers, the line was discontinued.
- Muralla – measures 7 1⁄8 inches long (181 mm) x 54 ring gauge, officially named the Rodolfos, commonly called the double pyramid by smokers. They were packed in a Varnished Boite Nature Box of twenty-five cigars. The line was a special release in 2004 and released in 2006, and then discontinued in 2011. In 2006, the cigar was introduced as a La Casa Del Habano (LCDH), but as part of the new policy of all LCDH cigars to be released in limited numbers, the line was discontinued.
- Officios – measures 5 1⁄4 inches long (133 mm) x 43 ring gauge, officially named the Dalias Cortas, commonly called the corona by smokers. They were packed in a Varnished Boite Nature Box of twenty-five cigars. The line was a special release in 2004 and released in 2006, and then discontinued in 2011. In 2006, the cigar was introduced as a La Casa Del Habano (LCDH), but as part of the new policy of all LCDH cigars to be released in limited numbers, the line was discontinued.
San Cristobal Special Releases
- 2004 – The Fifth Aniversario Humidor
500 were made to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the San Cristobal brand
Each humidor contained 100 cigars – 25 El Morro, 25 Mercaderes, 25 Muralla and 25 Oficios
Special “5 Aniversario” band.
- 2009 – The Colección Habanos
1000 were made as part of the special 2009 Habanos Collection Series
The numbered book shaped nature box contained 20 O´Reilly cigars.
- 2009 – The X Edición Festival del Habano
20 000 were made
These were replicas of the special commemorative cases gifted to guests of the tenth Habanos Festival.
Each case contains ten cigars.
- 2011 – The Colección Habanos
1000 were made as part of the special 2011 Habanos Collection Series
The numbered book shaped nature box contained 30 cigars – 10 brands, three cigars from each brand selected.
- 2012 – The Habanos Specialist Exclusive Jar
Ceramic jar of 25 cigars
2000 were made for release exclusively in the Habanos Specialist stores.