H.Upmann Connoisseur A at Vancouver Cigar’s Anniversary Party

H. Upmann  Connossieur-A

This upcoming Saturday, April 12, the Vancouver Cigar Company will be celebrating it’s first anniversary at the Autoform location.  This isn’t the first cigar theme event that has been held at Autoform, this past year has witnessed many such gatherings and the attendance seems to be growing.

So far the replies and confirmations from Vancouver cigar lovers reveals that this Saturday’s party will be the biggest yet.  Vancouver Cigar will be handing out to all in attendance an exciting new cigar from H. Upmann, the Connossieur A.  Shipments of this new Cuban cigar are finally now appearing at Habanos Specialists and La Casa del Habanos cigar shops worldwide.  Nothing, in my opinion, pairs better with a great Cuban cigar than a beautiful Scotch Whiskey so Saturday will also be seeing Vancouver Cigar giving samples of two fine single malts, a 10 year old Highland Park single malt and The Macallan Gold.

My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to smoke one of these cigars this afternoon,  I know I’ll smoke one again in a few days but I want to see if there’ll be any differences in flavours the second time around.  A great aroma came out of the slide lid box and I noticed this is a very well made cigar with a smooth wrapper and a firm feel throughout.

After clipping the cap I was pleased to see the draw was perfect and pre-light notes were of a light fresh hay, barnyard and subtle notes of black tea.  This Genios size cigar, 5 1/2 inches long and a ring gauge of 52 is marketed to those who want a larger ring gauge but at a manageable length for a slightly shorter smoking time.

First third started off with white pepper and wet cedar mixing with bean notes of chocolate and vanilla.  This cigar started off in a very complex manner, the first third made this a very exciting cigar to smoke, it was sweet and reminded me more of a hybrid between a Magnum 50, a bit of H.Upmann No 2 and the ’09 release of the Magnum 48.  I love sweet notes in a cigar,  usually you’ll get this with a younger cigar and H. Upmann will deliver this more often than not.  This cigar, because of the great draw and proper humidity in the Vancouver Cigar Company’s humidor, gave off great clouds of sweet smoke.  The aroma in the room was also pure classic Cuba. When this cigar burned to the halfway mark, the sweetness continued but then a leather and woody profile entered into the smoking experience, bean flavours appeared less frequently and the final third settled into a powerful cigar with loads of attitude.  I’m guessing that it’s due to it’s age, this Connossieur A from Upmann will continue to smoke well and impove daily, a young cigar can also give the smoker dizzying effects from generous amounts of nicotine but I saw no reason to be concerned with this cigar giving anyone any trouble as far as thats concerned.

This Saturday will be a great celebration with good friends, cigar aficionados trading opinions about an exciting new release from Habanos and the Vancouver Cigar Company showing their gratitude to a loyal following by hosting yet another wonderful event at Autoform.

A Nice Comparison

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Another road trip with my friend Tom earlier this month and that only means one thing, a lot of cigar smoking in the car.  We were on our way from Vancouver to Edmonton, which is in no way a short drive, but it is one of the things we love doing the most.  A car is the best place, in our opinions to enjoy a cigar, and my travel humidor was packed to the lid.  A cigar I had been aging in the humidor for a few months was the H Upmann Sir Winston, this was going to be lit and compared to a big favourite of mine, the Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro.  These are two mighty cigars that were bound to get some time in the ring against each other, it was only a matter of time.

I’ve been giving a lot of attention to the Don Alejandro lately since the guys at The Vancouver Cigar Company are sitting on an amazing box, the next time I go in I’ll see what the date is on the bottom of the box, usually that detail is the first thing I look at when buying cigars.  Something tells me that the cigars in question are only about a year or so old, no matter, they taste incredible.  The Don Alejandro presented us with a small amount of resistance on the draw and the Sir Winston was almost a wind tunnel, I like both options.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when tasting these two cigars back to back, I felt that there would be loads of leather in both cigars but the Don Alejandro won hands down in that part of the competition.  The Sir Winston initially revealed a lot of woods in it’s profile and so did the Vegas Robaina but the Don Alejandro’s cedar notes were sweeter.  One thing I forgot to mention was that the Sir Winston was from a box dated in the fall of 2011 so it was a little older which I thought would mean that it would be loaded with sweetness but no, we sere finding no shortage of dry and powdery dark chocolate and rich coffee.  Still the Vegas Robaina was sweeter.

As the two cigars burned and the miles went by we started to notice that theH Upmann was gaining in strength into the final third while the Don Alejandro kept a pretty even keel and kept it’s smoothness with every puff.  I kept thinking about the dry bean flavours present in the Upmann and how I thought that the Don Alejandro would be so similar but these were two very different cigars.

So you may be wondering which cigar won our approval?  I had so much more hope that the Sir Winston would clobber the Robaina and outclass it by a long shot but this day would reveal a completely different outcome.  It was the Don Alejandro that offered more complexity and evolution as the cigar burned.  It also seemed smoother into the last inch, which is usually my favourite part of any cigar.  The Sir Winston simply didn’t evolve as much and stayed on the same flavour track for the time it was burning.

Would I buy both cigars again and try this test another day?  Sure, as a matter of fact we can’t wait for another trip!

Cuban Cigars to Look Forward To…

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The new year brings so much promise with all of the releases we’ve been seeing lately.  I, for one can’t wait to get my hands on some of the shorter cigars that are now available.  One that really catches my interest is the new H. Upmann in the Half Corona.  3 1/2 inches and a 44 ring gauge.  The price will be great for the quality we’ll be getting, if you have a chance to order a box do it!! The Cohiba 1966, last year’s release is getting rave reviews and no one is disappointed with construction and flavor quality.

The larger ring gauge Montecristo Grand Edmundo Edicion Limitada 2010 is still available and with almost 2 years of aging is now smoking like a dream.  Although the movement is towards shorter cigars, this Canonazo is very popular with experienced Cuban cigar lovers with it’s powerful blend of tobacco which reveals very dark chocolate and coffees.

Hoyo de Monterrey’s Short Piramides Edicion Limitada for 2011 is a bit milder and sweeter with a 5.3 inch, 46 ring gauge, factory name “Forum”.  This cigar will still reward a patient smoker with close to an hour and a half of leathers and flavorful cedars in a cigar the same size as the Montecristo Regata.   This figurado will come in boxes of 10, which is another new sales formula Cuba is giving us.  I like the option of buying a box of 10 cigars, you can mix things up a bit and stock your humidor with a few different brands.

The picture above is a H. Upmann No 2, a cigar that’s been with us for a few years now, the one in the picture still proudly bears the older style band.  With all of the new cigars coming on to the market I still have a hard time turning my back on the cigars that I’ve been smoking this past couple of years and this Upmann will ALWAYS be in my humidor.

2011 H. Upmann Royal Robusto

royal-robusto

While we are on the topic of new cigars in my last few posts, I’m very excited about giving a brief mention to H. Upmann and their contribution to this year’s new releases with the H. Upmann Royal Robusto.  We all have our favorite Cuban cigar brands and on any given day you can run into a cigar that is aged just right, the smoking conditions are just right and then it happens… You are having the perfect cigar moment and you’re telling yourself that you’ve just found your favorite new Cuban, this is the one, this cigar is the best you’ve ever smoked and all is well with the planet.  Tomorrow you go to the same corner of the humidor, light up a cigar from the same box and all is different.  Do not be alarmed, our palates change but one thing for me does not.

With all of the Cuban cigars I’ve had the great fortune to light and savor I believe that H. Upmann has given me the finest flavors and great cigar smoking experiences, so I have to say that I simply can’t wait for their new Royal Robusto to be shipped out to The Vancouver Cigar Company.  The dimensions of this cigar is a 52 ring gauge and 5.3 inches long, which actually makes it an Edmundo rather than a robusto but all the better since I love a large ring gauge cigar.  Once again we’ll be looking at 10 cigars per box which tells me that since there are only 5,000 boxes produced, Habanos will be spreading them out to all of the La Casa Del Habanos outlets world wide.

I’ve written extensively about my love for the Magnum 48, the appreciation of the Magnum 50 and the medium flavored Magnum 46 but to get the chance to see if H. Upmann can achieve the same standards with the Royal Robusto always has me feeling that this is one of the world’s most satisfying passions.  The tobacco used in this new release is from the finest leaves in the Vuelta Abajo zone of the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.  This should tell us that the finest quality whole leaf tobacco will be blended, rolled and then tasted to insure that we will be getting exactly what Habanos has in mind for seasoned aficionados as well as new smokers.  Those starting off smoking Cuban cigars should set their sights on H. Upmann for it’s medium flavored, complex but balanced flavor profile that will never disappoint.  The H. Upmann coronas junior was a cigar that helped me appreciate Cuban cigars, had the best room aroma and paired so beautifully with rum…so… I’m counting the days until I can get my hands on the Royal Robusto.

A Cigar To Save And Savor

gasgiant2

The significance of the picture above is about the comedy that can exist in perspective and also a few do’s and dont’s… We’ll start with the Do’s..

The cigar is the H. Upmann Magnum 48 that was introduced as an Edicion Limitada in 2009.  I’ve done so much on this cigar that I hope any of you aren’t getting tired of it but I DO know that any of you who are familiar with the cigar will agree, that you can NEVER be tired of smoking them and hearing about their rate of improvement as they age can never be boring.  This was one of my favorite cigars in 2009, I smoked many, hung on to a few then smoked them in 2010 and at this point in 2011 I’m presently concentrating of acquiring more to savor over the next few years.  Its a very worthwhile experiment !

One of the Big don’ts in the picture is the gas lighter, in this case one that needs about a gallon of fuel, and the reason why these should be avoided around cigars at all costs.  The odor and subsequent taste of lighter fluid intermingling with the fabulous and varied flavors in Cuban tobacco is a pairing you should never experience.  You wouldn’t throw an extravagant dinner party and use diesel fuel for your fondue flame, cigars can have a delicate and subtle profile that doesn’t need to be destroyed by the not so subtle effects of burning a petroleum product.  Purists will use either thin strips of burning Spanish cedar or simply choose wooden matches, to first toast the foot of the cigar and then light it.  A butane torch is also a tasteless flame which works fine.

In closing I want to mention that, although I’m going to stay on the same path of buying and aging more of the H Upmann Magnum 48, I’ll probably wait another year before telling you, once again, how they’ve evolved in the humidor.  After 2 years they are rich, full bodied, balanced and a great smoke, next year they’ll have even more to say.

H. Upmann’s Recent Consistency

upppmannn-two

One of the things I love about the H. Hpmann brand is that in 1844, the whole cigar line came from the generosity of Herman Upmann when he started to give out cigars in decorated boxes as promotional items for his banking firm.  As years went by he became more and more involved in the cigar business and was awarded with gold awards from different international expositions.  The gold awards are still represented on the brand’s cigar boxes which, in my mind, still is very deserving when you consider that aficionados world wide are saying that Upmann cigars are entering into a golden age because of the quality of their tobacco and construction.

Consistency is everything and that is why I chose the H. Upmann No 2 in the picture above, these torpedos have been getting a great reputation as of late and there’s yet another reason to stock up on something that will enable you to start off with an already great cigar when aging in your humidor.  I happen to like the taste of a young cigar as well as aged and I have, in the past, as well as fabulous young cigars had a box or two of young cigars that were not that great to begin with.  What happens next is that you decide to hold on to them for a few years in anticipation of their improvement after further fermentation and although the cigar will improve and mellow, you still may not get the desired effect when, after all,  a cigar is of average quality when you first get it.

H. Upmann, in the Jose Marti factory, makes many sizes and shapes that are fitting for all circumstances in your day to day cigar smoking needs, from small tubos to a sizable Julieta No. 2.  These cigars will give an aroma in the room that is classic, rich and beautiful and will remind you of years gone by when you first became exposed to Cuban cigars.  I smoked more Upmanns during my visit to Cuba then any other cigars and I can tell you that their aroma takes me back with lightning speed.

Lovely H. Upmann Coronas Minor

This particular H. Upmann Coronas Minor was rolled July ’08 and whatever they were doing that month, I wish they could do it all of the time.  I bought these at the duty free in the Jose Marti airport just out of Havana on our way home to Vancouver.. They were really affordable, easy to carry on board and when I got home, after tasting the first one, I shed many tears for not buying more of them..

The factory name for this cigar, ring gauge 40 and 4.6 inches long, is a coronitas.  I am also a fan of the junior and have smoked many of them but I thought I’d try the Coronas minor and I’m very glad I did.  This cigar tends to be a bit smoother than the junior but thats not to say that this doesn’t have the spice that is very present in the junior.  Some would argue and say that the junior is one that many prefer but then you’d be talking apples and oranges here..

The Coronas Minor , in this case a Tubos, you get slight hints of honey and a beautiful toasted tobacco flavor.  The 45 minutes to one hour it takes to smoke this little cigar gives you a great medium strength smoke that has the most beautiful room aroma.. This is REAL Havana.. It is quick and convenient, the tube is a big plus for going out at night and, once again, the price will keep you coming back!!

My Top 10 Cuban Cigars In 2010

Different people have different tastes in cigars and many people will wonder why their favorite Cuban was left out but I want to begin by saying that this compilation of cigars was made up from some memorable moments I had smoking, what I believe, are the finest cigars in the world.  Some of these cigars were produced in years before 2010 but were the ones I smoked last year……

1… Ramon Allones Phoenicio ……  Well we may as well start off with one that will ruffle a feather or two concerning the release date but on July 28, 2010 I finally lit one up and all of my anticipation and patience paid off in spades…. Flavors of gingerbread, mild milk chocolate and very subtle hints of nutmeg kept swirling around my palate during the 2/12 hours it took to smoke this 54 ring gauge, 5 1/2 inch masterpiece…. Very difficult cigar to find these days, when originally released in 2008 they were only available at the Beirut duty free stores…..

2…  Cohiba Behike 52…… Now I’m struggling with myself as to whether or not put this into the number one spot because of it’s wonderful taste but I still maintain that the Phoenicio WAS that good!!!!  The Behike 52 was in a class by itself from start to finish and maybe because I was smoking it while on holidays without a care in the world, it tasted a bit better…. I’m not sure….. But….  There was something brand new about this beautiful cigar from Cohiba.. Totally unique and fantastic even at such a young age….

3…   H. Upmann Magnum 48…  Oh oh, here we go again with a cigar that did NOT come out in 2010 ( 2009 actually ) but where this cigar was sweet and fruity in it’s first year of life, the second year revealed a more classic beauty of medium to strong coffee and dark chocolate flavors that were very elegant… I really need to find more of these….

4…   Cohiba Robusto…..  Still a very steady contender in the top 10 of anyone who appreciates a good Cuban.. I’ve never had one with any kind of burn or draw issues and the grassy, spicy flavors are something I can count on whenever remove one from my humidor..

5… Cohiba Piramides EL 2006…. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.. Trevor at “The Vancouver Cigar Company” still has some of these in stock and if you like classic Cohiba perfection, you may want to get in touch with him.  This torpedo lives up to the reputation that the 2001 had and the more reviews I read, the more I see that smokers prefer the 2006.  It seems to take all of the greatest features of the Esplendidos and Cohiba Robusto and combines them all into one exceptional cigar…  They get better and better every year they age in the humidor.

6…   El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme…  This is a very unique tasting Hermoso No. 4 that is easy on the wallet and even easier on the palate because of the cinnamon, slightly spicy flavors.  My box is from Dec ’08 and with every one I light I see a great improvement as months go by..  Is it a classic Cuban?? No, not really… It can’t be compared to a Monte No. 2 or Cohiba or Partagas but should be experienced and appreciated as a staple in the niche market… You could call it a cult cigar from Cuba… Those who love it seem to stand by it and are very loyal to the brand.

7…  H. Upmann No. 2…  I still have a few left from a box from ’07 and although I’ve smoked a few younger ones recently I’ve seen that their consistency is incredibly remarkable..  Fantastic flavors of leather, coffee and cedar that get smoother with age.  I feel that I should mention the Montecristo No. 2 as well here…. Still a great cigar with classic beauty but hey…. I love the Upmann !

8…  Partagas Serie D No. 5 LE 2008…  This cigar did NOT get great reviews when it came out in ’08 and so I left it alone and smoked my usual Serie D No 4’s and Lusitanias when I wanted a Partagas but last year I was given a few of these and was shocked as to how good it was.. Sweet, fruity, milk chocolate flavors with the Partagas profile coming through made me wonder what all the bad press was all about.. This is a great cigar that is well made and coming into it’s own.

9…   Bolivar Royal Coronas…   Now this is one of Cuba’s most consistent Robustos.. Very earthy and comforting to smoke on any occasion, whether it be after a full meal of large flavors or on the golf cart after a hot dog as you’re starting the back 9.  I smoked many in 2010 and it NEVER let me down..

10…   Diplomaticos No. 2…    You may wonder why I’ve included this cigar instead of the Montecristo No. 2 and you’d have a valid question but I feel that I have to include this great Piramide because of the lighter profile it has to offer that is a totally perfect cigar to smoke on the boat in the morning.  I couldn’t think of a better morning cigar because of it’s gentle approach and couldn’t think of a better cigar to offer the novice or seasoned aficionado.

Well there you go….. I know I’ve left out the Trinidads, HDM’s and Romeos….  But….. This is my list and next year is a whole new year!

New H. Upmann For 2011

In recent years we’ve seen smaller cigars make a debut at the Habanos Festival and this year another little firecracker was unveiled that may take the world by storm or could simply blend into the Cuban cigar landscape and become somewhat forgotten.  I, for one, will choose to be optimistic because of the success of the H. Upmann Magnum 48 that was released in 2009.  I couldn’t believe the exciting flavors I would taste in the ” 48″ and after a couple of years it tastes better than ever.

Will the same thing happen to this year’s H. Upmann Half Corona??  Only time will tell since we haven’t seen an in depth review of this cigar yet.. This year’s Habanos Festival was the launching pad for a handful of new cigars and a lot of positive press went to the new Cohiba 1966 and to a lesser degree to the new Montecristo Gran Reserva.. Certainly the Cohiba will contain some of the best tobacco Cuba has to offer but the Montecristo contains 5 year old tobacco, which is said to be some very prime leaves from that harvest.

One thing that I’m reading so far that has me a bit concerned about the Upmann is that this cigar, according to some, will be aimed at the novice smoker…. Hmmmmmm….. Remember the Montecristo Open Series??  I wonder how that’s working out????  I quite enjoyed the “Regatta”, which I felt was the best of that series but when you aim for newbies in this passion you end up with a much milder cigar that leaves most of us wondering where the flavor is..

In closing, I hope that the H. Upmann Half Corona will live up to the Upmann name and deliver loads of coffee, fruit and chocolate that the ” 48 ” brought to the table….. Fingers crossed!