During last years (2019) Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show, Altidas U.S.A. showcased a new H.Upmann cigar that celebrated one of the the greats in the cigar industry Jose (Pepe) Mendez. Pepe may be best known as one of the first farmers in the Dominican Republic to grow, harvest, and cure filler tobacco. Jose founded a company that bears his name, Jose Mendez & Co., SRL which has been in existence for close to 55 years and is a primary supplier of leaf to Altidas U.S.A.
The Mendez tobacco family history dates back to the late 1800’s where Pepe’s Great Grandfather, Don Santiago Ramos, operated a convenience store in the tobacco rich, Pino del Rio region of Cuba. With tobacco being plentiful in the region, many local farmers would purchase products from Don Santiago with tobacco. Being a smart businessmen, Don Santiago sold the leaf to Havana cigar factories. Over time the business in tobacco grew and the family branched into the cigarette making business. During the Cuban revolution, the family emigrated to the Dominican Republic in 1962 and started the Jose Mendez & Co.
With a significant amount of tobacco from from Jose Mendez & Co. Altidas decided to pay tribute to Pepe and the island of Hispaniola with the introduction of the H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez.
The blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder – Dominican olor
- Filler – Dominican pilotico and andullo
The H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez is expressed in three popular vitolas and come packaged in 20-count boxes:
- Robusto (5 x 50) MSRP $8.50
- Belicoso (6 x 50) MSRP $8.80
- Toro (6 1/8 x 52) MSRP $8.95
These are manufactured at the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in the Dominican Republic. For this review I sampled the toro vitola.
The H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez is a smooth, oily, tan cigar that has solid packing. It s light on veins and has a decent weight in the hand. It is finished with a simple cap.
Two bands adorn the cigar. The primary band uses a red a gold motif that includes the golden H. Upmann logo in the center and the date 1844 along with the word “HISPANIOLA” printed below. The secondary band uses a white, red, and gold motif and declares this as the Jose Mendez.
Taking it through a pre-light aroma check, I picked up a mild spice along the barrel and notes of cracker and nut off the foot.
Finding the pre-light enticing, I sliced the cap with a double blade Xikar cutter and proceeded to give it some cold draw puffs. I found the draw to be spot on and it presented the palate hints of nut and light fruit.
I used my double flame torch lighter to warm the foot and bring it to an even orange glow and took in the first puffs of sweet cedar smoke.
Cigar Review Notes
- Cedar and sweetness start the journey
- Nice oily burn
- Spice joins the mix
- Full volume of smoke
- Off burn develops that eventually self corrects
- Decent white ash evolves on a wavy medium char line
- Ash eventually falls revealing a well formed burn cone
- I found the profile rather one dimensional with predominantly mild spice and sweetness through the first half
- Slight coffee notes enters deep in the second third
- Cream joins the coffee
- Touch of cedar development H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez
- Savory notes begin to appear deep in the second third
- Pepper notes join in the final
- Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 30 minutes
Overall, the H. Upmann Hispaniola by Jose Mendez was pretty much one dimensional through the first half but it did show some flavor development in the second half. The core of sweetness stayed throughout the burn and the end presented a savory and peppery final to the cigar. There was a rather significant off burn in the second third but it found a way to correct itself without having to touch the flame to the cigar again. This is worth picking up a fiver and it is one that I would enjoy in the morning with a rich cup of Joe. I rate this a 91.
Point Deductions: (-1) Off Burn; (-1) Wavy Burn; (-1) One Dimensional Through First Half