Whether you are familiar with the name or not, you have likely smoked a cigar from Altadis USA. A subsidiary of the UK-based Imperial Brands, Altadis has been crafting premium cigars (in one form or another) since 1918 and is responsible for many of the world’s most renowned brands, including Henry Clay, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Trinidad, and H. Upmann. The latter is one of the oldest cigar brands in existence. The man himself, Hermann Dietrich Upmann, was a german banker who had gone to Cuba in 1843 to arrange business affairs for his financial firm. Upmann originally began using custom imprinted boxes of cigars as promotional items for his customers, though he saw such a response (and became so intrigued by the process and success) that he purchased a factory and began producing cigars under the H. Upmann banner in 1844.
H. Upmann 175 Anniversary Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Medio Tiempo
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernández Cigars de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited Edition (14,750 boxes of 10 cigars)
- Vitola: 7″ × 50 (Churchill)
- Price: $18.00 (MSRP)
The H. Upmann 175 Anniversary is limited to 150,000 cigars, sold as 14,750 10-count boxes and 50 special-edition 50-count humidors. This cigar debuted at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, coinciding with the brand’s milestone 175-year anniversary.
H. Upmann 175 Anniversary is striking in the classic Churchill vitola, with a one-inch band that is designed to appear as two overlapping bands, as well as a rarely used foot cap, which ties in the A.J. Fernández brand. The primary band uses a good deal of gold embossing and centers around a round medallion look, with the brand and cigar name represented over a cream-colored faux secondary band that boasts Upmann’s extravagant signature.
The medio tiempo wrapper (the cigar’s signature ingredient) has an oily sheen and somewhat toothy texture. There are some thicker veins apparent and a very faint seam of where the wrapper was spun around the bunch. The medium-roast coffee color is perfectly consistent, with no spots or imperfections. The cigar has a dense construction that has a very slight spongy give when squeezed and is uniform from head to foot. There appears to be a double cap finishing the head.
The pre-light aromas are driven by raw leather and barnyard notes that remind me of a leather saddle. There is also a chocolate aroma that is more akin to cocoa nibs than either milk chocolate or baking chocolate; this leads to a faint caramel note that is very pleasant.
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The initial draw upon lighting the cigar shows a caramel sweetness intertwined with the leather and the chocolate notes that I perceived in the cold draw. The resistance is absolutely perfect—not snug, not loose. You can feel that you are drawing through tobacco, but with very little resistance. A note of black pepper is accompanied with a peppery sting in the retrohale. This is felt through a medium-plus smoke output that billows as you draw. The medium-plus body comes off as smooth without harshness or bitterness. The raw leather flavor continues to be the primary component, with chocolate and caramel notes remaining through the first third.
Halfway through the cigar’s whopping seven inches of tobacco, the black pepper notes are now more present on the palate, as the caramel character has subsided, though there is still a bit of sweetness in flavor. The chocolate has now evolved into more of a coffee character as well. With a thin and slightly raised (but not bubbling) burn line, the strength registers at a medium level.
The creamy smooth mouthfeel and softness on the palate gives an elegance to the cigar that leads to a sense of quality, aged tobacco. There are notes of sweet cedar wood that give structure to the leather character, still operating in the forefront of the flavor profile. There is a somewhat chewy texture to the smoke that lingers on the palate in between draws. A very mild hint of cinnamon is now expressed in the flavor, which plays into the sweetness nicely and is very enjoyable.
As the cigar burns into the final third, the chocolate notes return in place of the coffee that was perceived at the halfway point. The transitions in the cigar are subtle but felt in a manner intriguing enough to continue this experience well into the nub. While the construction was superb, minor touchups were needed, as the much-publicized medio tiempo wrapper was prone to runs and canoeing throughout the experience.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
While counting the moments until the next rendezvous.
H. Upmann 175 Anniversary would pair well with a brown ale or porter that favored the chocolate notes. A good bourbon or rum would also pair well with this smooth and flavor-forward blend. This is one cigar that I would not mind paying the extra money for. I would finish an evening after a peppery steak with this cigar anytime the opportunity presented itself.
- Special-edition 50-count humidors were created for this cigar that retail for $1,250.
- The famed request of President John F. Kennedy to obtain Cuban cigars before the trade embargo against Cuba in 1961 was for Petit Upmanns.
- A.J. Fernández employed a special fermentation process to ferment this exclusive medio tiempo wrapper, sandwiching the rare, high-priming leaf in between layers of broadleaf for a slower and cooler fermentation that lasted three years.
- The packaging for this cigar (even when opting for the 10-count box, as opposed to the 50-count humidor) is quite impressive. The decorative box opens with a stunning presentation that includes not only a certificate of authenticity, but a branded challenge coin (these have become increasingly popular in the cigar community recently). The one-and-a-half-inch coin comes encased in an acrylic coin holder and has the “H. Upmann 175 Anniversary” badge as the head and the family crest as the tail.
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium-plus
- Smoke Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Brown ale | Porter | Bourbon | Rum | Root beer | Medium-roast coffee (w/ cream)
- Purchase Recommendation: As your budget allows
- Extremely rich and full flavors
- Elegant and sophisticated character
- Long and rewarding smoking time
- Price prohibitive
- A few touchups