H. Upmann Naturals (Vintage Review)

H. Upmann Naturals

Origin : CubaH. Upmann
Format : Panetela
Size : 6.1 x 37 (155 x 15 mm)
Box date : 1970’s
Discontinued in the 80’s
Price : roughly $20-25/cigar

There is an excitement that portends the smoking a Cuban cigar that has aged in a tube for roughly 40 years and the natural bias to presume this will be a spectacular smoke, one is shocked by the plain ugliness of this cigar. For comparison purposes, I took a photo of the H. Upmann Naturals next to a current production H. Upmann Royal Robusto.

H. Upmann Naturals and Royal Robusto

H. Upmann Naturals were machine-made cigars always sold in tubes. Discontinued in the early 1980s. Not sure of the box year, but I’d guess late-1970s.

Appearance : Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Dark (Colorado Maduro) with even darker mottled spots, no sheen, lots of veins and bumps. Wrapper seems thick. Really unattractive head (see photos). Both white and black, the ash is darker than I expected for its age.

H. Upmann Naturals Tubo

H. Upmann Naturals Head

Construction : Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
A bit tight, I think numerous oils have evaporated over the years and the wrapper has shrunk. The band is very loose. A dry “crunch” is audible as the tip is clipped. Tight draw. Very good volume of smoke. Very uneven burn at first, but it evens out quickly and remains even throughout. Remains tight throughout, but not so much that the tightness distracts from the experience. Lasted well over an hour.

H. Upmann Naturals Ash

Flavor : Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆
Strong pre-light nose; smells musty and with strong barnyard scents. Opened smooth, though it required deep draws in order to get the full taste and smoke. Initial taste of musty hay, cedar, char and leather. Tea emerges after a few puffs. Nice flavors, well-balanced. Lots of dry barnyard notes. Absent are any fruit or spices and there is a notable absence of pepper. Very smooth on the retrohale. Medium strength. A regrettably short finish. Leather and firewood strengthen. It’s a very good smoke and a clearly aged flavor profile.

I paired it with a Highland Park 18 for no particular reason; the scotch is a little strong for the cigar and its sweetness is a sharp contrast with the Naturals. The contrast highlights the cigar’s char and wood tastes. There is little familial resemblance with current production H. Upmanns; the tastes are more akin to an old Davidoff.

The more I pay attention, the more this cigar brings forth the taste of dry toast. Halfway through, the flavors remains basically unchanged, but a pleasant amount of chocolate evolves. In the last third, the tea flavor becomes tannic and the cigar becomes a little metallic. I think these are near peak although I think they will remain as powerful for at least another decade or so.

H. Upmann Naturals Box

Overall Rating : Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
This HU Naturals was a very good aged cigar. More similar to other aged cigars than to older Upmanns. I don’t know what market value on these are today, but a quick Google search found a box of 10 went at auction for about $460, so perhaps singles are going as high as $50; that is still a bargain compared with other vintage Cubans. In a blind taste test, I’d pick this over most vintage Davidoffs. I think the cigar was quite good and the assurance that the tubed environment will make this an even more amazing smoke at 50+ years makes this a cigar to covet.