Posted by Jack | in H. Upmann | on 17 May 2014 | at 2:15 PM | 1649 views
When I started smoking cigars about 15 years ago, there were a few of the big name brands that were my staples.  Let's face it, most of us cut our teeth on Romeo y Julieta.  I smoked Punch and H. Upmann probably 90% of the time back then.  While these days, I am more likely to reach for boutique blends like Tatuaje, Illusione, and anything under the Emilio umbrella, there are still some of the old stalwarts that are worth lighting up. The Punch double maduro rothchild is amazing and the La Gloria Cubana line continues to be one of the best around.  My favorite Cuban is actually the H. Upmann No. 2.  However, over the years I stopped smoking Upmanns as they started to be very hit or miss.  I am pleased to see them coming out with new bands in recent years.  The Legacy is actually really good too.  So, during one of my infrequent trips to The Market in Kettering, I came across The Banker.  Russell told me it was good and at under $7, I opted to snag one for review.  Let s see how this stacks up to H. Upmann of old, shall we?
Construction: There is a very vintage look to the wrapper leaf on this cigar.  I see plenty of veins and even a couple of dark spots.  It did get a tad soft and hot towards the end...
Pre-light Aroma and Draw: Loads of cinnamon and something like a forest floor greets the nostrils out of the cellophane.  The draw is nice and wide open.
Light and Burn: The burn is an uneventful affair.  Nice and even with a nearly white soft ash.
Tasting: Starting off, the Banker is spicy.  Loads of red and white pepper fire things off into the first third.  I get some citrus, cinnamon, and a nice warm paprika flavor.  It''s a smoke bomb too.  I mean one that John Carpenter could have used in The Fog.  Loads of dense aromatic smoke just gob from the end of this thing.
The middle third starts out with a creamier texture.  I get more leather and a tad less pepper in here.  This is where the blend really starts to balance out.  Lemon zest, a touch of vanilla, and some more cinnamon make for a very tasty smoke.  The strength is cleanly in the medium range.  Even a newbie could smoke this without fear.
Into the final third now....the flavors continue to mingle well.  Cedar, oak, and some pine notes show up with a touch of roasted nuts.  The core is still leather and pepper that are nicely balanced.  That creamy smoothness continues as well.  That is something I have attributed to Dominican fillers over the years where the punchy pepper notes seem to come from Nicaraguan fillers.  Citrus notes still play around on the palate as well.  Overall, I am impressed.  As I nub this cigar, I get some really heavy raw and roasted nut flavors like cashews and pecans and a light roast coffee.  Very tasty indeed.
Value: At around $6.50, the Banker is a nice thrifty anytime cigar.
Final Thoughts:  Again, I am pleased to see Altadis re-energizing what had become a relatively stale line.  With blends like this I think a lot more folks will pay notice to the H. Upmann brand.  It's no Cuban counterpart, but it has merit and is one I will certainly be adding to the list of good new cigars this year.  Easily recommended.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: 5.5 x 48
The presentation is pretty cool.  The band is doubled so you can remove the paper and still have the Banker band on the cigar.  Personally, I would have gone with a money look to the velum paper instead of the stretched H. Upmann logo, but we can't have everything.
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