H. Upmann Cigars
The founding of H. Upmann cigars was, from one perspective, a great fluke of luck. Hermann Upmann was a banker from Germany who, at the age of 23 in 1839, left his home and set out for the New World, intent on taking a job offer at an international trading company. By chance he became acquainted with a young Englishman on his ocean crossing who convinced him that the Cuban cigar business was flourishing, and that he would be better off staying in Havana. This is what Hermann chose to do, and in 1844 he founded a cigar brand and a bank which both bore his name. The...READ MORE
H. Upmann Cigars
The founding of H. Upmann cigars was, from one perspective, a great fluke of luck. Hermann Upmann was a banker from Germany who, at the age of 23 in 1839, left his home and set out for the New World, intent on taking a job offer at an international trading company. By chance he became acquainted with a young Englishman on his ocean crossing who convinced him that the Cuban cigar business was flourishing, and that he would be better off staying in Havana. This is what Hermann chose to do, and in 1844 he founded a cigar brand and a bank which both bore his name. The bank failed in 1922 – though the Central Bank of Cuba today occupies its headquarters – but the marca of cigars lives on, and is today one of the biggest-selling in the world.
Success came early on for both of Hermann Upmann’s ventures. His bank became a provider of services to the whole tobacco industry, as well as other sectors which traded between the Caribbean and Europe, and his cigars began to be commended for their flavour and quality. No fewer than 14 gold medals, won at the end of the 19th century, still adorn the boxes of H. Upmann cigars, as well as the title of Provider to the Court of King Alfonso XII of Spain, awarded in 1855. These successes were particularly well-received in England.
Since 1850 H. Upmann cigars have been distributed in Britain by Hunters & Frankau, like all Cuban cigars are today. This connection proved especially useful in the period following World War One: the Upmann Brothers’ use of their business network to conceal a German spy programme had led to their sanction by the United States, and ultimately the bankruptcy of both banking and cigar interests. In 1925 Hunters & Frankau bought the factory and brand and re-instated production, retaining control until 1937 when local, Havana-based ownership was restored. The distribution partnership remained, and endures as a lasting legacy today.
Running a spy network was not H Upmann’s only connection to global politics: when the United States commenced their Cuban embargo, President John F Kennedy sent his aide into Washington the night before applying his signature to procure every box he could find of the President’s favourite smoke. His stick of choice was a small panatela, now discontinued, named the Petit Upmann.
Despite having dabbled in machine-made cigars in the past, all of today’s H. Upmann cigars are hand-rolled using Tripa Larga (long filler tobacco) from the Vuelta Abajo region. The blend is light-to-medium in strength and can be enjoyed in a wide variety of vitolas, from short smokes to large.
H Upmann Regalias: These cigars are in the ever popular Mareva vitola – 42 ring gauge by 5 ⅛ inches – and were repackaged in smart, retro-style tins in 2019. They will provide around 35 minutes of smoking pleasure, complete with notes of butter, coffee and leather.
H Upmann Magnum 54: One of the largest cigars to be offered by the brand, this 54 ring gauge by 4 ¾ inch robusto will smoke for about 50 minutes of cedar and cream flavours. Like many of the Magnum series, these cigars are often packaged in tubos for smokers on the move.
H Upmann Half Corona: A short, sharp burst of flavour from this 44 ring gauge by 3 ½ inch petit corona; released in 2011 to cater to fans of the brand who wanted to enjoy the blend when time was an issue. Also presented in attractive tins to keep your sticks secure.
As once of Habanos’ Global Brands H Upmann are not eligible for Regional Editions; happily, their Regular Production line has been supplemented by a host of Limited Edition cigars. The Magnum 50 of 2005 eventually became continuously available, while the Magnum 56 of 2015 is now one of the most sought-after boxes on the auction market. H Upmann have also been used for the ultra-prestigious Colección Habanos book humidor series, and was the marca chosen to commemorate the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Tiger in 2022.
The elevation in 2006 of H Upmann to Global Brand status cemented its place at the top of the Habanos pyramid. Since then the brand has seen promotion and recognition worthy of its history, but it still lags behind more salubrious cousins, like Hoyo de Monterrey and Partagas, when it comes to the release of special cigars. This most likely is because it came later to the top table of the modern brand hierarchy than the others, but does not mean it will always be in the distance. The bright and airy flavours of the blend, and the strong pedigree for quality and construction, mean H Upmann cigars are highly thought of by the overwhelming majority of cigar lovers.
Hermann Upmann’s banking legacy may not have lasted very long, and his choice of sides in The Great War (guided, of course, by his nationality) may have stunted the development of his cigar business. Thankfully, the quality he developed and instilled in the cigars he gave his name to has outlasted all of that and we can still today enjoy the product he created more than a century ago.
Brand Founded: 1844
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 17