Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Monday, November 16, 2015

H. Upmann Banker - Cigar Review

It has come to my attention that I have come to a particular attention. Allow me to explain: it seems that yours truly is what might be considered a 'trusted source.' How very odd that lays on my palate. I'll not go into further particulars there/here. I'll leave it as a tip o' the hat to the universe.

What I would like to delve into further, is why my mail takes so very long to get to me. Pacific Northwest, sure -- but I'm still within the continental US. Ponies, many of them, have met their untimely demise in transporting packages to my doorstep. They are the real heroes.

Cigars City sent me my latest dying equine. "Is there anything I can do to save you?" I asked as I plucked --

H.Upmann Banker
Ecuadorian Habano wrapper
Nicaraguan Jalapa binder
Nicaraguan & Dominican fillers
6 x 52 Annuity (Toro)

-- from his weathered satchel.
"Neigh." He said and kaput.
There's a band, a foot band, and a paper sheath that covers the cigar betwixt the bands. The whole megillah. Sheath is white with golden H. Upmann logo emblazoned upon it. Band and foot band are moolah green with gold adornment. It's actually DOUBLE-BANDED, epis! As a second main band is under the first which holds in place the sheath that runs to under the footer... it's all a bit much and I'm just glad I didn't mangle this homage to one Mr. Herman Upmann by the mere and innocent act of accessing it.

The cigar itself, once unearthed, is dark caramel mocha with a prominent vein or two and many smaller ones. By comparison, there are not many spider veins; it's almost as if the veins had to be a specified size to meet some bump-causing criterion. Oh, there are bumps. This Upmann is the cigar equivalent of my childhood school bus driver, Bumpy. Bumpy had a goiter, see. There is a nice enough sheen and some decent oils. Tobacco peeks out the foot with a golden hue and looks to be even and of average density. Charmin-testing it, the density is actually soft with a good deal of mainly even squishability. The cap is well enough appointed, but right underneath, a seam pops up like a pimple that's come to a head.

As to ye oldde schnoz, I don't honestly detect much more than muted tobacco and earth from the shaft. Medium-roasted coffee and subtle spice notes are at the foot soe far away milk chocolate, like Nestle Quik...Nesquik powder. On a cold pull (of let's say medium) I get chocolate and dusty muted red spices on a medium tobacco.

Bit of a mess here. A pinch of tobacco came loose on a toasting which highlighted slight red seasoning on a paper shopping bag backing. Too, there is a leap ahead on one spot of the burn-line. First hot pull is darker tobacco than expected with a hint of bite to it. As far as flavors, a strong white pepper and chocolate hint. Second hot pull is retro-haled off a tightened draw (medium+) and is a dusty spice rack. I'm put in mind of poultry seasoning. An odd bit of rosemary/sage. Apologies: sage/rosemary. A third hot pull is back to a mainly tobacco affair and a dusty one. Some cocoa powder, not the Quik. A bit of roasted white pepper. WTF was with the poultry seasoning??? LOL

Burn is way wonky. burn-line thin+. Ash is pale to medium grey and exhibits a somewhat uneven density. Flakes as well. I decide to allow it the opportunity to fix itself, as I lay my schmatta/hankie on my lap. In the meantime, we gentlepersons are off to the races -- as soon as I mention the medium volume smoke output which is a pleasantly milk chocolate affair with kind spices backing it up.
The already soft construction has softened more. There is a trace of those green herbs on the immediate and occasional draw; mainly there is cocoa to Nesquik and a medium-bodied coffee on a earth note backing. The burn is coming to even and its burn-line remains consistent. The finish is a clarified butter with hints of chocolate and, lesser, coffee. The coffee offered at a nice restaurant that does not specialize in coffee. Medium length, there.

At every one of those aforementioned goiters, the burn-line hiccups. At this point, it is self-correcting, A half inch from the burn, a crack has developed atop a slight bulge. Flavors remain unchanged, although the white pepper has greatly subdued and the chocolate has amped up. Earthiness is now a sweeter hay. Mouth-feel is a tad dry, but not requiring of a sip. At an inch, I roll off the ash to examine: flaky with -medium density, but a slick feel like a high grade talc. Medium to charcoal grey. The burn slows. Foot-smoke stays the same.

The sage remains on an only occasional retro-hale, but the rosemary is gone. I too haven't detected pepper in a bit. Sweet hay tobacco, chocolate, -medium roasted coffee. Clarified butter mouth-feel. Medium profile. Let's see if anything develops in --

Wrapper takes on a somewhat fragile feel. Must be made in Italy. An uneven burn-line is razor-thin and slowly working through that bulge/crack. Not much to report by way of flavors, as all is unchanged, I do find myself rather enjoying the calm, however. A good offering, this Banker, to keep on your desk (as the smoke is kind) and count beans while puffing (as you'll avoid nicotine-laced distractions). You'll enjoy the simple flavors as you remain eyes glued to your ledger. One does not always have the head-space for nuance.

Chocolate notes get the spotlight and there is some dimension by way of meandering from cocoa to milk chocolate and back again. Pleasant. Burn-line is razor-thin and ribbons frequently, self-corrects always. Burn remains calm and smoke, cool. Ash darkens a notch and while not pretty, remains firmly held. Draw resistance meets the profile at medium. I keep being surprised I ain't bored. Must be something to this.

A very nice chew and a kind foot-smoke keeps the thing glued in my smoke-hole. Ash clumps off and breaks into powder on my concrete porch. White pepper returns now at a bit past the half. Burn stray a touch beyond ribbon. Flavors sharpen a bit, but don't threaten biting. Softening of the pack has ceased.

White pepper falls back and is mainly on the retro-hale. Finish has strengthened but not lengthened and tastes the same. Mouth-feel moistens and the butter is heavier than clarified. Burn starts to even. Body ticks up to near medium+ with a creamier butter as the curtain falls on the second act.

A tang develops on my tongue, but nothing terrible. Not into'd on a new flavor note, and not pepper -- an evolving of the hay, perhaps? Primarily earth notes now, which the chocolates swirl around. Coffee is what remains after the dance and into the finish to two-step with the still present now milk chocolate. That finish lengthens to a sweet and light medium+. Profile I'd say is a medium with an occasional tick up to + as far as body.

Ash clumps off again and is same as same as ever, but kindly hits my schmatta dead on. A nice dampening sets in and flavors roast a tad, and a woody flirtation comes on, or almost does. A hickory type thing that stays with the earthiness and doesn't seem to want to develop on its own. The aroma is very much a selling point of this Upmann, as my porch is now among the most pleasant spots on G-d's green earth. I hit the band point and ride it out, slow and cool. Mellow and simple -- but not boringly so, and far from laborious. I'd say this Upmann will leave your ledger in the black.
Strangely enjoyable, for what little it brings to the table. A bit like smoking a pipe, actually, but with less finagling required.

Bookkeeping, a half-dozen hands of solitaire, a good read. Coffee, nothing special, however ya take it.


I'm writing this prologue the morning after, because I get sleepy early these days -- on account of getting younger. I will say I still strangely remember this smoke, I'd say its earned a place in my cerebral mantle. Why, I am not certain. Pick your's up at Cigars City. Maybe you can fill me in.