The year was 1853 when a young Vincente Martinez Ybor, a Spanish immigrant to Cuba, opened a small cigar factory in Havana. He had one brand, a cigar known as El Principe de Gales (“Prince of Wales”). Through his hard work and determination, the brand took off and eventually he was producing 20,000 cigar a day (over 5 million/year). In 1868, the Cubans fought the Spanish for independence in what would be known as the Ten Years war. Even though Ybor was Spanish, he sided with the Cubans in their quest for independence. It did not take long for the Spanish to learn of his sympathy for the Cubans and issued an arrest warrant for him in 1869, which Ybor learned about and fled the Island with his family to another tropical land, Key West, Florida.
Once in Key West, he set up another factory to continue making his El Principe de Gales cigars. With many Cubans immigrating to Key West because of the Ten Years War, he hired many in his factory. Sadly, the Spanish and Cuban workers did get along and he ad logistical issues to ship and transport his goods from Key West. Once again, he made a move to Tampa, Florida and then eventually establish what is known as Ybor City a town of cigar manufacturers. The rest is history as Ybor City is still known today as Cigar City USA. As for the El Principe de Gales it was a popular cigar through the 19th century into the early 20th. It has been a defunct brand since.
Enter Arnold Serafin, owner of Serafin de Cuba cigars in Tarpon Springs, FL. Arnold is on a mission to revive many of the old defunct front marks of Tampa area cigars. His first project was Tarpon Sponger followed by the Flor de Tampa. Then late 2021 he rebirthed the El Principe de Gales.
The El Principe de Gales by Serafin de Cuba is not a Cuban blend like the original, but it is a fine cigar, expertly hand rolled in Arnold’s Factory/Shop in Tarpon Springs. The blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder – Dominican
- Filler – Nicaraguan
They are expressed in three vitolas, each packaged in 20-count cedar boxes:
- Robusto ( 5 x 50) – MSRP $10.00
- Toro ( 6 x 52) – MSRP $12.00
- Torpedo (7 x 52) – MSRP $12.00
For this review I sampled 5 of the El Principe de Gales robustos which were gifted to me by Arnold as a thankyou for reviewing his shop in Tarpon Springs.
As noted, the Serafin de Cuba – El Principe de Gales is a beautifully bunched and rolled, medium tan cigar, that his a just a mild oily sheen to it. The cigar is packed well with just the right give when pressed between the fingers. It has minimal veins running along the barrel. a barrel that is smooth to the touch. An expertly applied triple cap finishes the quality presentation. One additional observation is the touch of dark leaf noticeable in the fill when looking at the foot.
A single band adorns the Serafin de Cuba – El Principe de Gales. It a classic Cuban look to its design and uses a red, gold and white motif. The center presents the company’s logo in a shield . The left side denote “EST 1853” and the right side denotes “CUBA” giving a nod to the original date and location of when the brand was founded. The bottom states “By Serafin De Cuba”.
Running the El Principe de Gales along the nose, I picked up a mild spice note along the barrel while the foot offered notes of light earth and natural sweetness.
I sliced the cap straight across the shoulder of the cigar and proceeded to give it some cold draw puffs. I found the draw to be excellent with nice natural sweetness and a growing black pepper note. A few more cold puffs and it was time to fire it up and go on a journey as I learn more about Mr. Ybor and the El Principe de Gales.
Using a lit cedar spill, I warmed the foot gently with the soft flame and and then puffed in the first draw of peppery smoke, that opened the nasals a bit on the retro-hale. Follow along as I burn the Prince to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Pepper shot, especially to the nasals, to start
- Salty butter notes quickly from behind the pepper
- Touch of fruit graces the palate with a nut aroma
- Mild woody notes begin to develop
- A solid white ash is forming on a medium thick char line with a slight wave to it
- Aroma shifts to a mildly sweet, cinnamon aroma
- The smoke volume is full, thick, and chewy, with what I describe as smoke ring texture
- That was the first inch or so, which has a delicious development of notes
- Cedar notes begin to form
- Natural tobacco sweetness delicately wraps the cedar entering the second third
- Cedar notes get richer moving toward through the second third, taking center stage
- Ash fell in a nice chunk – revealing a well formed burn cone
- Notes of citrus rind tease and moisten the palate near end of second third
- Touch of cocoa enters into the final
- Mild to Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 25 minutes
The Serafin de Cuba – El Principe de Gales was an amazing blend that offered a delicious array of balanced, complex, and nuanced notes from foot to nub. The smoke was thick and chewy throughout and had me blow smoke rings during the journey. There was very little bite to the smoke, highlighting the blending capabilities of Arnold Serafin. I especially enjoyed the sweet cinnamon aromas early in the burn and the hint of cocoa in the final. This is most certainly box worthy and should be in your daily rotation for that perfect morning smoke. It would be an excellent cigar for a new cigar smoker to learn more about flavor without getting punched in the head with strength. I think Mr. Ybor would be happy that his brand has been reborn with such a fine blend. You can purchase these by calling the shop at 786-262-4887. I rate this a solid 95.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Burn through fist half
Bonus Points: (+1) Pleasant and consistent across all samples; (-1) Complex and Nuanced Throughout