It was the year 1844, when a young 28 year old German banker, Hermann Dietrich Upmann, decided to purchase a local cigar factory in Havana, Cuba and began prodicing cigars under the now famous, H. Upmann brand. That was 176 years ago! Owning, operating, and growing a cigar brand is not the easiest thing to do, especially now, in the 21st century riddled with regulations, rules, and taxes everywhere you turn. If there was a model of success, one might very well say, look at H. Upmann.
I can say, I have never smoked a Cuban H. Upmann, but I did have the pleasure of holding a 110 year old Cuban H. Upmann in my hand, during a 2018 visit to the James Fox and Co. cigar shop in Dublin Ireland. It certainly felt and smelled like a cigar I would enjoy.
Over the history of the brand, H. Upmann had numerous owners with the most famous being Menéndez, García y Cía Co., makers of the Montecristo brand. After the Cuban revolution, Mendez and Garcia moved the brand to the Canary Islands, then to the Dominican Republic. The Cuban brand was owned by Habanos, SA and the Dominican brand eventually became part of the Altidas portfolio in 2002, which was then purchased by Imperial Brands PLC (“Imperial”), and then last year, through a complex arrangement, was was sold to a private investment group.
I only turned 60 years old last year but I have had my fair share of ups, downs, trials, and tribulations, over those sixty years around the sun. I have learned many a lesson in my life’s journey. I can only imagine how many lessons a brand like H. Upmann has learned over their 176 year journey.
The H. Upmann 175 Anniversary
With such a long and storied history in the cigar market, the brand reached out to A.J. Fernandez, to create an anniversary cigar that would pay homage to the 175 years of the brands existence. That cigar was released in 2019, and was simply named, “H. Upmann 175 Anniversary” masterfully crafted by A.J. Fernandez in Nicaragua. Yes, this is a Nicaraguan puro that features a Medio Tiempo wrapper. The special and rare Medio Tiempo leaf, is sometimes called thick ligero, as it a leaf that grows at the top of the plant. The leaf is the smallest on the plant and has a higher concentration becuase they get maximum sunlight.
The H. Upmann 175 Anniversary blend is simply described by the company as:
- Wrapper – Nicaraguan Medio Tiempo
- Binder – Nicaraguan
- Filler – Nicaraguan
This special cigar only comes in single (7 x50) Churchill vitola and is packaged in 10-count boxes with an MSRP of $18.00/cigar.
The H. Upmann 175 Anniversary is a stunningly beautiful, very oily, coffee bean brown cigar. It has a fine tooth, practically no veins, and tight seams. The cigar is well packed and feels solid from head to foot. The presentation is finished with a well applied cap.
As should be, for all anniversary cigars, the H. Upmann is branded with a band that is as beautiful as the cigar itself. It uses a gold, brown, and white motif and boldly displays “H. UPMANN 175 ANNIVERSARY” in white on a gold foil background. The bottom left of the band declares “Masterfully Crafted by A.J. Fernandez in Nicaragua” . The bottom right declares “Private Batch All Rights To The Legal Holder”. Finally the bottom center has H. Upmann’s signature and the phrase “This Is My Signature”.
There is also a unique footer band on this, that not only wraps around the cigar, but also covers the open foot. It declares this as A.J. Fernandez and Groupo De Maestros.
I ran the long barrel of the H. Upmann 175 Anniversary along the nose, and noted the intriguing baking spice aromas that were quite inviting. The foot exuded similar notes.
Using my double blade Zikar cutter, I sliced the cap straight across the shoulder and proceeded to give it some obligatory cold puffs that I would describe as nicely restricted with notes of mild pepper and earth. A few more puffs and I detected a hint of natural sweetness that had me comping to light this one up.
My triple flame torch was perfect to warm the foot, which took to the flame well. A few early puffs and it developed a beautiful orange glow and delivered an early set of cedar and leather notes to start the journey. Follow along as I burn this beauty to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial light offered rich cedar and leather notes
- Medium volume of smoke
- Light grey ash evolves on top of a crisp medium char line
- Toasted caramel sweetness aroma wafts off foot
- Creamy notes join after an inch of burn
- Dark chocolate notes add to the pleasure
- Ash fell in solid chunk revealing a well formed burn cone
- Smoke volume opens up end of first third
- Natural sweetness enters and evolves into a burnt honey note
- Burn starts to get a tad wavy
- Savory spice starts to take over the core profile
- Aroma shifts to a cocoa aroma
- Honey sweetness and cocoa nuances wrap the increasing spice core
- Strength moves up to full
- Dry cocoa powder enters in the final third
- Full Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 2 hours and 20 minutes
Overall, the H. Upmann 175 Anniversary was well worth the $18.00 price for the 2 hour and 20 minute flavor and aroma filled smoking sensation. I especially enjoyed the honey like sweetness that entered in the start of the second third and added a unique dimension to the flavor profile. It had just a mild wave in the burn and had a medium volume of smoke through the first third before opening up. A.J. Fernandez did an outstanding job on this craft. I rate this a 93.
Point Deductions: (-1) Slight Wave in Burn; (-1) Medium Volume of Smoke in first third.
Bonus Points: (+1) Buy a box