H. Upmann 1844 Nicaragua Review – A. J. Fernandez Edition
The H. Upmann 1844 Nicaragua line encompasses several distinct sub-lines from Altadis-USA. Today, I will be discussing the A. J. Fernandez Edition. H. Upmann is a long standing and storied Marca in the cigar world. “1844” denotes the year two brothers began their historic tale of tobacco. Their innovations still survive today. Look at that cedar cigar box in your humidor or on your shelf; they pioneered that.
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A quick side note on that subject. We all say cedar, or more specifically, Spanish Cedar, to name the primary wood in most humidors or cigar boxes. That is not completely correct. It actually a misnomer – it is not really true Cedar. It is, in fact, either Sapele or Utile Mahogany. Both are similar and perfect for light duty use with the added bonus of imparting a lovely Cedar aroma to items placed inside boxes or cabinets made from them. The generic term most used is Aromatic Mahogany.
The Upmann brothers were the first to package their wares inside such boxes, and now – to this day – we all desire that lovely, lightly cedar note from humidors and cigars. The history lesson ends here.
Tonight’s offering is the generous Toro size in 6 x 54 ring. It is a solid cigar comprised of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. Uniquely, the binder is a Corojo 99 leaf, topped off with a beautifully oily, Colorado-hued Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. You might have surmised from those components that this is not your grandfather’s H. Upmann, and you would be right. Traditionally speaking, this line is truly a departure from the normal H. Upmann Brands, but this is a good thing – a very good thing.
Now, to the cigar at hand. You saw the bright blue/gold/creme and white band in the shop and thought, “Say, what is this?” Then, you picked it up, checked it out, and gave it the nose. “Mmm, that smells good!” That’s what you want: something that catches your eyes and then catches your senses. This blend certainly does that.
It is billed as Med/Full, and that’s generically correct. Most cigars wander a bit during smoking, and that, too, is a good thing. This is a good looking, well constructed cigar made at A. J.’s facilities in Nicaragua. They draw well and smoke well. I have a fair amount of experience with these, and I stay mostly in the Robusto and Toro sizes. The nose prelight is clean and lightly spicy, and that’s true to the tobaccos used. No surprises there.
The wrapper is smooth with uniform coloration, and no defects were noted. The solid and even construction yields no lumps or bumps and the wrapper appears solid and sturdy. A clear guillotine cut on the cap gives access to an even but slightly tight draw. Again, the notes of cedar and spice appear on the cold draw.
Rule of Thumb
I smoke fairly slowly, for two specific reasons.
- Pacing yourself allows you and the cigar to breathe, and both benefit from this practice. You get a better grip on the flavor profile, and the cigar maintains an even operating temperature. Hot-boxing a cigar rarely benefits either party. Plus, you can easily ruin a cigar that way, and I want my money’s worth from my cigars.
- You prolong the smoking experience. I will freely admit that sometimes, you want the experience to be over quickly, but with a quality cigar, you want to enjoy all of its moments. Let’s face it, we never get all the cigar time we want, right? So, why not make the time you do have memorable, or at the very least enjoyable.
I have a rule of thumb on cigars. If I am halfway through a cigar, and I am already thinking about the next one, then that tells me that the one I am smoking has not impressed me very much. My advice: focus on the cigar in your hand. You will find more pleasure there.
Now on to business. The light is clean and immediate. Soon, a cherry red coal circles the foot, and we are on our way. I very much enjoy the fact that you get flavor right away. None of this “smoke an inch before the taste comes on” nonsense. Heavy herbs, pepper spice, with just a hint of sweet all wrapped in that lovely Aromatic Mahogany.
As we progress, the power potency shows up to remind you just who made this for Altadis. I spend a few moments just enjoying the consumable art that exists in my hand.
This H. Upmann 1844 Nicaragua is a definitely a pleasure to smoke. Good smoke production, plenty of flavor ranges, the ebb and flow of spice, then cedar, then baked bread, and back to spice. I love variety, and this cigar delivers. They are not night-and-day changes but surprisingly subtle ones, like the change from white pepper to an earthy spice that reaches just beyond my ability to name it and back again. Think of it as a flavor scavenger hunt of sorts.
At 2.5 inches, I gently remove the first band. I am now reminded of why I have so many of these in the cooler. They are simply great cigars. Add to that fact, they are reasonably priced, and it only adds to the appeal. They are widely available, and they have, in my personal experience, a very low failure rate. That is also very important to me.
We all know of certain cigars that cost substantially more dosh, but the smoking experience can be hit or miss. When I am paying my hard earned coin for something, anything, I want hits not misses. (Steps down from the soapbox)
I am now halfway through, and it is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It did go out a couple of times because I type slowly, but each relight was clean and penalty-free. It has a slightly wobbly burn but always self corrects quickly. The wrapper is solid with no frailty issues like some, and the cap is also solid in function, as well. Cigars that unwrap while you smoke them drive me crazy. None of that nonsense here.
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As I close, I wonder what the Upmann Brothers would think of this cigar that bears their name? Compared to the standard fare of their day, this would definitely be a Wig Splitter, but I bet they would still appreciate the quality, construction, and the handmade Art exhibited in this cigar. At least, I would like to think so. I know I do!
P.S. Hey fellas, great idea on the Aromatic Mahogany boxes! 😉