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H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto


Several years ago, I took a younger member of my family to a museum to see some art and get exposed to artistic works of the world. I don’t remember the featured exhibition, but it seemed to be a fairly famous artist, and certainly someone who lived centuries ago and whose work was still drawing significant crowds both to this particular museum and around the globe.

At some point during the visit, the conversation turned to the idea of becoming a person whose memory and work lives on long after you’re gone. It’s an interesting thing to think about, particularly if you are trying to design your life around doing or creating something that will still not only be talked about but celebrated decades or centuries into the future.

I bring that up because as I looked at the cigar being reviewed, one thing stood out to me in particular: the number 1844, which appears three times on the band. That was the year that Hermann Dietrich Upmann purchased a cigar factory and launched his cigar brand in Cuba, having arrived on the island the year before to do work for a German importing and exporting firm. He also entered the banking business, first focusing on serving tobacco dealers and manufacturers. Beyond just banking and cigar making, Upmann is often credited with the invention of putting cigars in cedar boxes and as a byproduct, the initial development of branding cigars. To this day, some 177 years later, not only does the H. Upmann brand live on in both a Cuban-made and non-Cuban version, but there is still an H. Upmann Factory standing in Havana, though the original location was closed in the early 2000s, and the current one is technically known as the Jose Martí factory.

As for the non-Cuban version, it is part of the Altadis U.S.A. portfolio and has a number of lines that hit numerous points on the flavor wheel and various spots on the strength spectrum. For its newest addition, the H. Upmann 1844 Classic, the company created a blend that uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a Honduran binder and filler, which include both classic Cuban seed varietals as well as broadleaf varietals.

The H. Upmann 1844 Classic is offered in four vitolas:

  • H. Upmann 1844 Classic Corona (5 x 44) — $7.10 (Box of 25, $177.50)
  • H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto (5 x 52) — $7.40 (Box of 25, $185)
  • H. Upmann 1844 Classic Toro (6 x 54) — $7.70 (Box of 25, $192.50)
  • H. Upmann 1844 Classic Churchill (7 x 54) — $8 (Box of 25, $200)

It was unveiled at the 2021 Tobacco Plus Expo, which happened in mid-May, and then began shipping to stores in June.

  • Cigar Reviewed: H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Flor de Copan S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $7.40 (Box of 25, $185)
  • Release Date: June 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto certainly wants to keep the visuals on the lighter side of the spectrum; the wrapper is a light, golden-hued shade, while the band’s gold and egg creme color reinforce those visuals. The wrapper can be on the veiny side on certain samples, with those veins a bit bumpy due to some puckering that I see on Cuban-grown wrappers as well as the occasional lighter leaf not grown on that island. There is also just a touch of oiliness to the wrapper, which isn’t picked up by the eye but the fingers. The cigar is rolled and capped well, the former firmly but with some uniform give. There are no soft spots but rather a firm pillowy density, and given what I assume is a fairly thin wrapper, I’m not inclined to squeeze it too much. Aroma off the foot is impressively nostril-filling with a thick custard leading the way, followed by a mix of white and black pepper, and hints of oak barrel that can become a bit more lumberyard at times. Airflow on the cold draw is ideal and problem-free, though I wouldn’t mind a tick more flavor. There’s a generic cake donut or convenience store packaged pastry sensation, which isn’t bad and one I am familiar with, though it doesn’t really stimulate the taste buds. The better experience comes when there is more of the custard present or something I might call condensed milk, as that thick ad creamy sweetness does a lot for the pre-light experience.

Right out of the gate, the H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto hits my senses with a good amount of flavor; there is the creamy base that one would expect from a cigar looking like this, but the white and black pepper both carry over from the aroma, while the woodiness is lighter and works the sides of my tongue. I can also make the case for some sourdough bread being in the flavor, though not as intense as I tend to find in Connecticut-grown wrappers. While this profile may not have been the prototypical Connecticut-wrapped 10 years ago, it is quite familiar now having been replicated by numerous manufacturers. Retrohales in the first third are light on the nostrils but pack enough white pepper to give a good tingle. There are some flirtations with popcorn, and I’m surprised to find that it comes with a bit of oiliness on the finish. While I don’t often bring up pairings, the profile does have me wishing for a latte, as the creaminess that each has could work well together, while the coffee and tobacco could bounce off each other on the taste buds. The first third is medium-plus in flavor, medium in body, and mild in strength thus far. Combustion and construction have been very good, with an easy draw, plenty of smoke, and an even burn line.

There is a thread of flavor that is the seam between the first and second thirds of the H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto, though I can’t quite pin it down. Through the nose I pick up more sourdough bread, though it doesn’t translate to the palate as cleanly. There’s more of the popcorn oil glazing the flavor, yet that doesn’t tell the story, neither does saying it has a bit of mineral and chalk to it. Rather, it’s the combination of all those things being a bit more than the individual components that sets the flavor apart at this point. While I wouldn’t say that the profile is dominated by creaminess, it remains a component, an enjoyable and beneficial one at that. The second third sees the flavor pivot a bit to draw in a bit of corn flakes cereal, though the warmth of the flavor and smoke gives it a softness in the mouth that quickly dismisses the idea of cold milk. That softness lasts a bit before fading away and allowing some of the pepper to take over the profile. If the first half was generally a lush profile, the second third comes to a close with a slightly more robust and aggressive profile, a change that is noticeable both on the taste buds and through the nose via retrohales, which have a bit more black pepper to them than earlier. The profile is still medium-plus but with a more robust spin, body is medium-plus, and strength is still shy of medium but building a bit. From a technical standpoint, each cigar burns very well and is problem-free as long as it gets a regular puff.

Like many blends of this ilk, the H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto has left its more lush profile behind and is now a bit more robust, though still relatively light on the taste buds. It’s an interesting and engaging mix of pepper and light creaminess, and while there is still some trace of it, the dry wood from earlier seems to have left the profile. To put it another way, if the first half is about easing into the day, the second half is a bit more of a kick in the pants to get to work. Of course, as soon as I finish writing these thoughts down, the creaminess begins to return to the profile, a lighter and thinner expression than earlier, but one that is nonetheless welcomed and appreciated, as it gives the profile some depth and fills out the body of the smoke. If there is one thing about the final third that I am not as much of a fan of, it is some scratchiness and slight irritation that I pick up; it’s a sensation that hits throughout the mouth, hitting the various zones of the tongue as well as the cheeks and roof of my mouth. That sensation, along with the flavor, reminds me a bit of dry pretzels with a bit of salt, call it the flavor of Rold Gold pretzels if you’re familiar with that. In the final inch, there’s a bit more heat in the profile, which sharpens up the pepper, while some minerals come into the profile around the edges. Between that and the dry wood, the flavor is by far its sharpest, really hitting the taste buds with some pointedness, a change that pushes the flavor into near full territory. Body remains medium-plus while strength is medium at most but far from imparting much nicotine. Construction remains fantastic and essentially problem-free.

Final Notes

  • I think we’ve moved past the phrase “not your father’s/grandfather’s Connecticut,” and I’m thankful for it because it was one phrase that was starting to get tired. That said, had this cigar been released a few years ago, that phrase would have almost certainly been used.
  • I have not yet smoked the other vitolas in the line, though I’m intrigued by the corona’s smaller ring gauge as well and the length of the Churchill. I think both could be interesting expressions of the blend.
  • I found there to be no appreciable strength in the H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto.
  • Altadis U.S.A. advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was 1 hours and 45 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar carries the H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto.

90
Overall Score

From the get-go, the H. Upmann Classic Robusto delivers a solid and very enjoyable profile that strikes the balance between milder strength and fuller flavor. There is plenty of pepper in the profile, while a lighter and sweeter creaminess keeps things easy on the palate. It then adds in some light woods for accents, while its profile transitions from smooth and easy into something that has a bit more character and robustness without completely abandoning its roots. Top it off with very good if not near perfect construction, and you have a very impressive cigar to consider. While the profile might not have the complexity to push it to the next level, there is little wrong with what it does offer. If there’s one thing I can say about the H. Upmann 1844 Classic Robusto is that it’s a cigar that I could smoke seemingly any time of day, in any mood and in any situation, as well as one that I’d feel confident giving to pretty much anyone wanting a cigar.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I’m a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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