H.Upmann Half Corona

(Size: 3 1/2″ x 44  —  Time: 40mins)

The H.Upmann Half Corona is a cigar I have been smoking fairly regularly over the last couple of years. It was a much anticipated new vitola from Habanos SA in 2011 – arguably developed as a response to the increasingly stringent smoking laws in many countries around the world.  These have led to a need for flavourful, quality, cigars which could be enjoyed in a short timeframe, thereby avoiding frostbite. It has been well marketed, and I particularly like the stylish tins of five which are occasionally available.  Unfortunately the availability of the tins is largely dependent upon whether the Cubans have been able to get their hands on any metal… I do appear to have set up a suitable opportunity to reflect on the geo-politics of the region, but that’s probably best saved for another day.

H Upmann Half Corona

I should say upfront that I am a fan of this cigar, and have refined my tasting notes (from 2012) based on my experience smoking a couple of boxes of these during the intervening period.  My notes had gone somewhat AWOL over the last six months or so…  However, now that they are found, you can look forward to my usual flurry of activity over Christmas as I catch up with many unpublished reviews.

Appearance /15

The H.Upmann Half Corona looks like a good little package from the off. A nice chocolatey wrapper encases the filler, showing only a few knobbly bits and very few, small veins. They are nicely firm to the touch, with just a little give, and a gorgeous, neatly packed foot.  13

Smoking Characteristics /25

H Upmann Half Corona 2

The pre-light draw was very good – a touch firm, but still a pretty effortless draw.  The cigar lit quickly and evenly without needing any early attention. The burn wasn’t razor sharp, and there were a couple of touch ups needed to keep it level as the cigar progressed, but there was nothing which anyone would be bothered by (I’m just a bit prissy when it comes to an even burn). The ash was fairly dark and quite flaky – it held reasonably well, but I’d be lying if I said it inspired confidence… Smoke production was good throughout – with good density and a pleasant aroma.  22

Flavour /25

The pre-light draw has a touch of grass on it, but immediately with lighting this gives was to a lovely dry cedar-wood profile.  Early flavours maintain the slight tang of cedar, with a touch of pepperiness coming to the party.  What I would consider to be the true character of the H.Upmann Half Corona soon starts to develop, with a rounder, creamier profile coming to the fore.  Creaminess with hints of fennel soon gives way to something far more appealing…  Honey comes forward to mix with the cream for a delicious period around the one-third mark.  The honey soon gives way to a slight grassiness, which together with the rich cream is redolent of asparagus with hollandaise sauce!  Never a bad thing.  As the cigar builds towards the end the greener flavours give way to a touch more pepper.  The cream remains, but more subdued, and a lovely maltiness evolves.  22

Overall Impression /35

The notes I took whilst reviewing this H.Upmann Half Corona are a very good reflection on what I have found the vast majority to smoke like.  These are lovely little sticks which are surprisingly consistent from one cigar to the next for a smaller vitola.  The construction is generally good, and the flavours are pleasant and relatively complex for such a short smoke.  It is a smoke which pleases both the experienced and novice palates – I have introduced a number of curious friends to cigars with this cigar, and unanimously they have liked it as much as I have.  It’s always going to be difficult for a such a short smoke to provide enough to push it past the 90 mark, but this is one cigar which should be in everyone’s humidor.  33

Grand total… 90/100

PS. If you’re reading this near when I published it, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – I hope both bring you many fine cigars and good times.

New Jar from Habanos

Yesterday (5th October), Habanos SA announced a new ‘jar’ release. This time around, H.Upmann is the brand which has been chosen for the release, which will be exclusive to La Casa del Habanos stores – the Cuban owned international chain of franchises.

The cigars, which will be packed into a glass jar, will be Noellas measuring 135mm x 42. Each jar will contain 25 cigars, and the production run will be limited to just 5,000 jars.

In the UK, the only La Casa del Habano is Ajay’s Hava Havana store in Teddington, London. (For those living in other countries, check this franchise list from La Casa del Habano).

H.Upmann Mag 48 (2009 LE)

(Size: 4 3/8″ x 48  —  Time: 1hr 5mins)

A day spent in London, killing time before an early morning flight, clearly meant only one thing… a trip to St James and an opportunity to smoke a cigar – I’d pick something which wasn’t in my humidor. As such, I went for an LE I’ve had my eye on for a while now, the H.Upmann Mag 48. This cigar is not the size you might expect at first – it’s not between the Mag 46 and Mag 50 as you might expect, but smaller than them both, producing  a happy hour-ish smoke.

I’ve taken a couple of photos, but won’t post them at this moment as I’m at Istanbul airport and don’t want to pay to upload them from my phone at international rates… I’ll pop them up when I return. NOW UP (see below).

Appearance /15

On the Mag 48 I smoked, the wrapper itself was a nice mid-shade of leaf with an appropriate sheen to it and just a couple of small veins. However, there were just a couple of slightly unsightly marks and there was a rather large soft spot. 12

Smoking Characteristics /25

How would the Mag 48‘s soft spot affect the quality of this cigar? The light was fine, and the draw was absolutely perfect – from start to finish it was easy (but not loose) and produced plenty of quality smoke. Unfortunately, however, the burn was uneven throughout, one side always ahead of the other (regardless of the multitude of tactics I used to try and sort it out). 21

Flavour /25

Regardless of the issues with this cigar’s burn, the flavours were extremely enjoyable. At the outset there were wafts of pepper, but no harsh spiciness. Soon, this developed towards a cedary profile, which developed a slight creaminess and then gained more and more with a honey-like sweetness alongside  floral undertones. Then cream joined in the party, and there was something reminiscent of vanilla too (though the two together did not quite go the whole hog and produce an ice-cream flavour!). Finally, these sweeter flavours gave way again to a cedar profile, with pepper building towards the finale. Nicely bookended, and almost symmetrical. 23

Overall Impression /35

This particular H.Upmann Mag 48 was somewhat let down by it construction/condition. However, there was more than enough flavour for me to give a really big thumbs up to the blend – a mild-medium flavour profile (edging towards medium bodied for the strength). This is definitely a cigar which I am eager to smoke again, and could easily score 90+ with a better example, I doubt more than another year would add anything extra though. 32

Grand total… 88/100