February 23, 2010
Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Toro
Size : 6.0? x 54
Wrapper : Cameroon
Filler : Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian
Binder : Nicaraguan
Price : $6 each
H. Upmann is a cigar brand with a rich Cuban heritage. Like most American cigar smokers, I have very little experience with that storied version of the brand. Instead the H. Upmann I know best is made in the Dominican Republic. Back when I was just a fledgling cigar smoker, Upmann’s were listed among my favorites. I thought of them as a very reasonably priced, excellent quality, medium to mild smoke. As I gained more experience and my palate developed, I quickly lost my taste for them. That is except for one particular line. Even after I moved on from H. Upmann to other more dynamic and robust smokes, I still continued to enjoy the H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon. At that point in my cigar smoking career I had developed a fondness for the Cameroon wrapper and the Upmann was one I continued to enjoy along with the Torano 1916 and others. Eventually I moved on from my Cameroon kick and thus stopped smoking even this line of Upmann’s. A recent conversation about Cameroon cigars brought back memories of this particular cigar and I decided I wanted to revisit it again as it has been a while since I have enjoyed one of the Vintage Cameroons.
The Dominican H. Upmann brand is owned by the tobacco giant Altadis, USA who also happens to be a stake holder in the Cuban cigar company Habanos, S.A. The Cameroon wrapper conceals a Nicaraguan binder and a three country blend of long filler from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru. It is excessively adorned with three bright red bands and a cedar sleeve. There are just bunches of opportunities to ruin the wrapper here as you get the cigar ready to smoke. I happen to share my friend Jamie’s view on this. One band is enough, simpler is better. The more things you are gluing around a cigar the more chances there is for that glue to get on the wrapper and bring disaster as you remove them just to get the cigar into a smokable state. I did manage to get my sample unwrapped with the wrapper leaf unharmed so now on to the smoke.
The Upmann wrapper isn’t as toothy as a lot of Cameroons in my experience, but like most there are plenty of tiny veins crawling across its surface. The draw is good but the large ring gauge is awkward to me. I rarely smoke cigars this large anymore which I think makes it more noticeable to me. The burn is excellent, straight and slow and cool. The ash is a little flaky but not really a problem. My memory of this cigar is far better than the current reality. I remember enjoying this cigar a lot way back when I used to smoke them. Now it just seems flat to me. The flavor is nondescript and light, a very mild smoke. there is a hint of that sweet spice that I always liked from a Cameroon, but I think the large ring gauge and its accompanying large amounts of filler have muted it a bit making it barely detectable. Overall this smoke just doesn’t suit me any more. It is not a bad cigar, but it is just too mild and monolithic for my tastes. I have some fond memories of this cigar and perhaps that’s where this cigar will have to stay for me… A nice memory from my cigar smoking past.
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