H. Upmann is one of the oldest cigar labels in the industry. Herman Upmann, a German banker, opened a branch of his Upmann bank in Havana in the early 1840’s. From there he’d send Cuban cigars to his friends and family back home in Europe. After realizing the commercial opportunity present within the cigar trade, he opened a cigar factory towards the mid-1840’s and the H. Upmann brand was born.

The cigar label itself won 7 major awards in between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s before H. Upmann’s cigar operation and bank went bankrupt.

However, the tradition of the H. Upmann cigar lived on as it changed hands and at one time being owned by Menéndez, García y Cía Co., makers of Monticristo cigars. Now its  part of Cuba’s national cigar company Habanos S.A. and Altadis in Dominican Republic.

Prior to the 1961 U.S. trade embargo with Cuba, John F. Kennedy famously ordered a box of H. Upmann Petits; as it was known to be his favorite cigar.

Today, I am a glutton for the H. Upmann Banker one of the best, if not the best cigars I have smoked and you can buy it under $10.00.

jw blue

As the story goes, this blend of cigar was originally made for Upmann’s wealthiest clients. The blend was kept top secret until the Upmann empire collapsed in the 1920’s. Today, this beautiful cigar is widely available and has quickly become my favorite smoke. 

It is one of the most beautifully decorated cigars with an extended white ornamentation that proves to be a superior touch that you could only expect from a legendary cigar line. The cigar itself is wrapped in a sultry dark Ecuadorian wrapper whose pre-lit aroma lures you in well before your own first draw.

Inside you’ll find vintage Dominican and Nicaraguan long filler that delivers a comprehensible complexity of earthy, creamy and spicy notes.

Upon lighting and taking your initial puff, a full plume of aromatic smoke encapsulates you. With each draw, the cigar flavor matures and opens up and emphatically crescendos all the way until the hot ash burns your finger tips and a subtle melancholy takes over knowing the cigar is finished.

This is where a pairing with an extra smooth Johnnie Walker Blue Label served neat will make for an excellent smoking session well worth the investment in the higher end premium whiskey blend due to the pocketable price of the The Banker.

Alas at the conclusion of your cigar, you ought to have some remaining JW Blue Label to help ease the pain of seeing such an excellent cigar experience come to an end. If not, pour another glass and enjoy a fine drink while savoring the aftermath of the H. Upmann Banker.

Enjoy your smoke to the hot ash my friends!

This article has been republished from our archive. It was originally published on August 10th, 2014.

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