|H.Upmann 1844 Reserve – 2011 re-blend|
At first glance, when you look at the title of this review, you might be thinking I’m going about to review an older cigar – after all there has been an H.Upmann 1844 Reserve for some time now. However, this is not the case. In one of my 2011 IPCPR segments, I mentioned that Altadis announced at there the H.Upmann 1844 Reserve would be re-blended. In this case this is not a re-tweaked blend, but a blend that has been reworked from the ground up.Sometimes I wonder if a cigar company is better off just launching a new line instead of giving an existing line a new identity (that is a debate for another time). In the end, the cigar can be named anything, but it matters how it smokes. In the case of the new H.Upmann 1844 Reserve – a nice cigar, but not one that had me doing handstands.
The name H.Upmann is one of the classic names in the cigar industry. This cigar has its origins back in Cuba where founder Herman Upmann opened his first cigar factory in 1844 (thus the name of the cigar here). The company went bankrupt in 1922 and the name (and production) was eventually acquired by Menendez y Garcia co. – the company that made Montecristo. The Cuban Revolution led to the nationalization of Cuban cigar companies – including H.Upmann. As a result of this, Menendez and Garcia would move the brand to the Canary Islands, then to the Dominican Republic. The brand would eventually come under the ownership of Altadis. The end result is that this is why there is a Cuban H.Upmann and a Dominican H.Upmann. When considering H.Upmann, I always think its important to remember the Cuban origins of this brand.
The Ecuadorian Cubano wrapper I think is most interesting. The toothy appearance immediately reminded me of the company’s Cuban origins.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Cubano
For reference, here is the old blend:
Filler: Dominican and Brazilian
Back when I previewed the new H.Upmann 1844 Reserve, I was able to confirm five sizes. It turns out there are six:
Toro: 6 x 54
Belicoso: 6 1/8 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 50
Robusto: 5 x 50
Corona: 5 1/2 x 44
Demitasse 4 1/2 x 33
Preparation for Cigar Experience
For this cigar experience, I went for the larger ring gauge – the Toro. The prelight draw was actually interesting. I got a combination of butter cream and pepper spice. The only problem is that there seemed to be some bitter notes mixed in with the pepper. It’s been a while since I smoked an Ecuadorian Cubano wrapper cigar, so perhaps I missed something something else in the dry draw. I figured it was time to light up the H.Upmann 1844 Reserve and see what would come to the table.
The word cedar definitely was the first thing that came to mind as I started the smoking experience of the H.Upmann 1844 Reserve. The cedar took on some dual characteristics. At times it was sweet, and at other times it was spicy. As I was smoking one of these cigars, one of my fellow cigar enthusiasts had the opinion that this is often a profile of some Cuban cigars, so I thought that was interesting. In the early part of the cigar experience, I also picked up some generic wood notes and a touch of raw sugar cane.
As the cigar experience moved into the second third, the wood notes seemed to take on qualities of oak Meanwhile the sugar cane sweetness started to push out the cedar sweetness. The cedar spice continued to hold on. As the cigar moved into the last third, the cedar spice transitioned to more of a classic pepper. The finish was a little rough – and spicy. The resulting nub was soft, yet cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
In the cigars I smoked of this size and vitola, there were a couple points where I did experience an uneven burn or even a little canoe in the burn. These seemed to be isolated incidents in case as opposed regular occurrences. The burn temperature and burn rate were no problem. No issues with the draw either – this could easily be assessed as excellent for the H.Upmann 1844 Reserve.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, the H.Upmann 1844 Reserve is not going to knock you over with nicotine. It’s the classic definition of “medium” in terms of the strength attribute. The body was interesting. I do believe part of the objectives of this reblend was to give the 1844 Reserve a more fuller-bodied profile. For the most part, I think there was some success on this. I still had this assessed as medium-bodied for the first two thirds. In the last third, I believe it crosses into medium to full-bodied territory.
After smoking a couple of these, this is my classic definition of “See What You Think”. The flavor profile was not bad, just not mine – and the cigar had some nice construction to it. After my friend’s comment about the similarities to Cuban flavors in this cigar, it clicked that in most cases I’m not a big fan of the classic Cuban tobacco profile. As a disclaimer, I do need to sample some of the smaller vitolas because I do think that could provide a different smoking experience with this blend.
Body: Medium (Medium to Full in last third)
Assessment: See What You Think
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.