Binder: US Connecticut Broadleaf
Wrapper: Sun Grown Ecuadorian Habano
Flavors: Wood, Leather, Fresh Tobacco, Umami
Draw/Volume/Strength: 0 / +3 / 3+
Where to Buy: Famous Smoke Shop
All this talk of Cuba lately reminds me of the story of President Kennedy giving his press secretary Pierre Salinger instructions to acquire as many H. Upmann Petite Corona cigars as he could, the night before he signed the executive order to ban the import of Cuban cigars. Kennedy was a guy who knew how to get what he wanted.
Like Kennedy, I have a certain fondness for H. Upmann cigars. I don’t generally go for the Petite Coronas; my personal favorite is another cigar which is no longer available, the H. Upmann #100 Maduro (the Dominican version, not the Cuban). I picked up a box of them maybe 7 years ago, but since that time, they have ceased to exist. For my money, it was the best Robusto on the market (one of the few Robustos I actually really like—frequent readers may recall that I’m not generally fond of Robustos).
I have no idea why Altadis chose to discontinue such an excellent little cigar, but I can only assume it was because they weren’t selling. I tried to do my part, but unlike Kennedy, I don’t have a press secretary running around rounding up cigars for me. The problem is, like everyone who wasn’t Kennedy, when he enacted the Cuban Trade Embargo in 1962, no one else really knew it was going to happen. One day they were readily available, the next day, they were not.
That’s how it sometimes is with cigars. The brands you love—especially the smaller brands—may be dropped or re-blended at almost any time. Reasons vary from changing market conditions, to availability of different tobaccos at the factory, to simple lack of demand. For someone like myself, who has generally unconventional tastes, and favors hard-to-find and boutique cigars, unfortunately it’s more common than I may like.
Thankfully, I’ve got one more #100 Maduro left. Unfortunately, I only have one. I’m apparently saving it for a very special occasion—like, to celebrate the day they decide to reissue the cigar (I don’t like being completely out of them)! I really shouldn’t save it. I’ve mentioned my aversion to “special occasion cigars” before. But I just can’t bring myself to part with it.
There are a lot of things in life that are like that. We don’t know they’re going to be gone until they’re gone. Without getting preachy, I’m reminded of the need to appreciate the things we have every day, because tomorrow, they may not be here to enjoy.
The good news is, I’ve developed a new H. Upmann obsession, in the form of the H. Upmann Sun Grown, a delightfully complex beauty readily available from Famous Smoke Shop. The blend features a compelling mix of Nicaraguan and Honduran longfillers, with a US-grown Connecticut Broadleaf maduro binder—perhaps the same Connecticut Broadleaf that formerly made the wrapper of the #100 maduro—all encased in a gorgeous Habano wrapper grown under the clouded sun of Ecuador, lending this fantastic cigar its name. No wonder I love this thing!
For this review, I’m smoking the #2 Torpedo (6¼x52), although I’ve previously smoked a number of other vitolas in this blend. The first flavors are plenty of mellow aged tobacco and rich woods, cedar and oak, with a round, leathery texture, and just a hint of sweetness. The cigar is beautifully rolled, seamless and veinless, with a meaty firmness, and a chewy bite. The draw from a tiny little ¼-inch cut of the torpedo tip is lush and even (0), producing a huge smoke volume (+3) of just more than moderate strength (3+). The first inch also produces a subtle, nearly undetectable herbal quality, something akin to caraway or fennel, which quietly fades as it goes.
By mid-way, the roundness present at first develops to a rich, luscious umami, dripping with layers of leather and tobacco, while still carrying forward a subtly sweet, tangy background, presumably from the Broadleaf binder. The burn is straight or self-correcting throughout, and the pale grey ash is flaky and firm, holding to an inch or more, with perfect double cones. The final movements become somewhat roasted and toasty, but it avoids a bitter decline, remaining smooth and cool to the finish. The cigar smokes to an inch and a half nub in about 80 minutes.
I easily rate this cigar 9.2. It’s beautifully made, incredibly flavorful, and remarkably consistent. They’re available in 6 different vitolas from Famous Smoke Shop, and I can personally speak to the quality and reliability across the brand, from the Churchill to the Corona. And the best news is, they’re currently in stock—for now! If I had my way, I’d have a lifetime supply of them, and there’d be a lot fewer boxes for everyone else!
Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”