H.Upmann Vintage Cameroon Toro Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian
Size: Toro 6.0″x54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

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 price, 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 an 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 cigar 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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H. Upmann Lonsdale Wednesday, Jan 7 2009 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper:  Indonesian TBN (Shade Grown)
Binder:  Dominican
Filler:  Dominican and Brazilian
Size: Lonsdale 6.5" x 44 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

These H.Upmann cigars, which has no relation to the famous Cuban brand, are made by Altadas in the Dominican Republic.  They are wrapped in a little used shade grown Indonesian tobacco known as Indonesian TBN.  TBN stands for “Tembakau Bawah Naungan” which according to an article on Indonesian tobacco on CigarAficionado.com means “tobacco under sheet”; or in other words, it is shade grown.  I don’t know off the top of my head of any other cigars that use this tobacco other than another Altadis brand.  It does not seem to be a very popular wrapper choice these days.

The wrapper is laced with small veins and is the color of caramel. Outwardly it looks like a very well made cigar, neatly wrapped with a standard cap.  It is well filled with no soft spots and the bunch of the filler looks very well done in both the foot and head with no stems or rib veins visible.  The draw is very good, smooth with just the right amount of resistance.

It is no secret that I like lonsdales.  I have stated multiple times that I think the lonsdale is an ideal format for a cigar and that it is my favorite vitola.  I decided to visit the H. Upmann Lonsdale because I remembered that early on in my cigar smoking I used to enjoy this brand of cigar.  I remember thinking that it was a good bang for my buck.  Inexpensive, well made and very enjoyable.  Over the years I have moved away from this marca, not on purpose but rather as just a natural progression.  Other cigars grabbed my interest and the Upmann just faded from memory.  I thought it would be interesting to revisit it now and it seemed natural to try it in the size that has since become my preferred format.  Back when I was smoking these more regularly I was a robusto and toro fan.

The cigar started off a little tannic with an unpleasant bitterness on the finish.  It quickly mellowed out.  There wasn’t much there to talk of.  No real flavor, no complexity.  It was just a run of the mill, mild Dominican smoke.  Slightly creamy with a basic tobacco flavor and no body to speak of.  Now I know why I eventually moved away from these.  Near the end it picked up a little bit with just a hint of spiciness and little more body, but it was far too little much too late.  The burn was ok and the ash was a little flaky.  The biggest problem I had was keeping it lit.  It went out several times even though I wasn’t setting it down very often.  This might serve a as decent easy going introduction to cigar smoking for some one brand new to cigars but I suspect, like I did, they will outgrow this cigar quickly.

Rating – C

H. Upmann Naturals Tubos 6.0×46 Monday, Sep 12 2005 

I don’t have all the stats on these smokes but I think they are 6″x46 ring. I picked up a box of these real cheap at JR’s about a year and a half ago. The first few I smoked were not very good and I thought they were a little harsh. I was out playing golf on a windy day this weekend. Wind can really mess up your enjoyment of a cigar so I took a couple of these tubos with me. I didn’t want to waste a good smoke. After a year and a half of resting in my humidor, they got a little better. They mellowed out a bit and have become smokable. Still not a great cigar and nothing I would recommend someone buy, but at least it looks like the purchase wasn’t a complete waste. They will be useful for me when I’m out on the golf course and it’s too windy for a good cigar.

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