H. Upmann Bank Note

At the Tobacconists Association of America’s (TAA) 2014 Annual Meeting, Altadis USA brought their contribution to the TAA’s Exclusive Series of cigars, the H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive. The Bank Note is one of eight exclusive cigars made available to TAA retailers by various manufacturers. The name “Bank Note” is derived from the roots of the brand founder Herman Upmann.  Upmann was a German banker who in 1844 went to Havana Cuba and invested in a cigar factory – which became the H. Upmann brand. The theme might sound similar to another line that pays homage to Upmann – H. Upmann’s The Banker.  The Bank Note is a different cigar and is only available in a corona frontmark.  I recently have had an opportunity to smoke the Bank Note.  It isn’t the most complex of cigars, but it delivers some solid flavors.

The TAA is a small group of retailers (at press time the TAA web-site lists a total of 77 members). For the past several years many manufacturers have made available cigars that are exclusive to TAA member retail shops.  As per their web-site, the TAA is defined as:

The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.”

At this time, let’s take a closer look at the H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

Atladis has been pretty quiet on the details around this blend.  This cigar does have an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Not disclosed
Filler: Not disclosed

Vitolas Available

The H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive is available in one size – a 5 1/2 x 48 corona.  The cigars are packaged 12 per box and only a run of 400 boxes were made.


The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the H. Upmann Bank Note has a medium plus brown color with a slight rosado hue to it. Upon closer examination, there is some darker marbling on the surface of this wrapper.  The surface on the wrapper has a decent amount of oil.  There are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams as well.  There is decent size tail attached to the cap.

There are two bands on the H. Upmann Bank Note.  The primary band is the classic red, white, and gold H. Upmann 1844 band.  This features a gold and white H. Upmann sun wheel logo.  Over the logo is the text “H. UPMANN” in white font arranged in a curved fashion.  Above that text is a curved gold wreath.  Below the logo is the text “1844” surrounded by a curved rectangle – both in white font.  There is a gold circular trim around the band.  The band’s sides have gold, red, and white adornments.

A secondary band rests below the primary band.  It has a red background.  It features the text “TAA EXCLUSIVE” in gold western-style font.  There is a gold stripe above and below that text.  The band’s trim has also has a gold stripe across the top and bottom.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As I normally do when a cigar has a tail, I still opted to make a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided some subtle notes of chocolate, leather, and spice. Overall, it wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw, but it was not a bad one either. Since the pre-light experience is not factored into the rating or score, there was no loss or gain or points here. At this point I was ready to light up my H. Upmann Bank Note and see what the cigar experience would have in store.

Flavor Profile

Overall I didn’t find the H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive to be a very complex cigar from a flavor standpoint.  In fact, this is not a cigar that undergoes major flavor transitions.  I did find this to be a cigar to deliver some classic cigar flavors.

The Bank Note started out with a bolder dose of leather, chocolate, and spice notes than the pre-light draw.  The spice seemed to be a cross of black pepper, herbal, and cedar spice.  The first half saw the chocolate notes figure in a little more prominently.  As the Bank Note moved into the second half, the spice definitely took control and became the primary flavor.   The end of the Bank Note definitely had a pretty spicy taste to it.  The resulting nub was outstanding – cool in temperature and firm to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The H. Upmann Bank Note scored very nicely in the areas of burn and draw. I found the burn to be a straight one, although the burn line itself had a slight curvature to it. At the same time this was not a burn that required a lot of touch-ups – and for the most part any touch-up was cosmetic. The resulting ash was on the firm side and had a nice silvery color. It was not an ash prone to any significant flaking. The bun rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive

The draw had a slight touch of resistance to it – something I enjoy on a draw.  This made for a very enjoyable smoke.

Strength and Body

From both a strength and body perspective, the H. Upmann Bank Note remained pretty consistent.  I found the Bank Note did have just enough strength to qualify as a medium to full strength cigar in my book.  As for the flavors, they had some nice depth to them – making this a medium to full-bodied cigar.  Both the strength and body remained constant throughout the smoke – and countered each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

There are two factors that work against the H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive.  Firstly, it isn’t the most complex of cigars.  Secondly, while the flavors are good on this cigar, the Bank Note was sorely lacking of what I term “wow factor”.  This cigar also delivered a lot more in the spice department than I anticipated.  Construction-wise, this is a solid cigar and it was reflected nicely in the burn and draw.  This is a cigar that I’d probably steer toward a more experienced cigar enthusiast, not looking for anything fancy, but a good quality cigar.  As for myself,  while I’m not sure this is a regular rotation cigar for me – it’s one I’d smoke from time to time  It’s definitely worth a “Try One”.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: 2.5 – Try One
Score: 88


News: H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive to be Released by Altadis USA
Price: $8.95
Source: Purchased
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