Altadis USA introduced the H. Upmann Reserve Maduro in 2008, around the same time that they also unleashed the Montecristo Reserva Negra (which is a spankin’ good cigar.) I liked that Montecristo so much that it made my top ten for the year, but I have to say that I made the choice with some hesitation.
Last year Imperial Tobacco hoovered up Altadis like a dust bunny, making it not only the owner of major brands like Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, but also 50% owner of Habanos S.A. And as much as I’d like to say that the size and power of the company — and its reputation as the neighborhood bully — has proved a detriment to the quality of its cigars, I can’t.
The fact is that I don’t like a lot of Altadis cigars. A gargantuan international conglomerate can be expected to produce a homogenized product with mass-market appeal, and they do. But occasionally they also produce something special, like the Reserva Negra and the RyJ Museum Edition.
So I was looking forward to seeing if the Upmann Reserve Maduro could live up to the Reserva Negra. They use the same wrapper, a San Andres Morron from Mexico, which I have come to believe is the tastiest maduro wrapper in use. The filler is a Nicaraguan and Honduran blend, and the binder is from Nicaragua.
Six sizes are in production:
- Sir Winston – 7 x 50
- Belicoso – 6 1/8 x 52
- Titan – 6 x 60
- Toro – 6 x 54
- Robusto – 5 x 54
- Corona – 5 x 44
I smoked this in both the Belicoso and the Robusto sizes and found no significant difference in flavor between sizes.
Like most Altadis cigars, the H. Upmann Reserve Maduro is built pretty consistently — the roll is solid and it’s a nice looking stick. The dark brown maduro wrapper does not look over-processed, the way some oily black maduro wrappers can be, and is finely toothed. Some moderate veining does not detract too much from its overall appearance.
Both the robusto and the belicoso burned evenly and produced a solid light gray ash. Both sizes draw very well, almost too well at times — the final third of the belicoso was a little too loose and I had to ease up on the throttle to avoid a hot burn.
Overall very good construction.
The Reserve Maduro is a mild to medium-bodied cigar that is framed by the aroma of its wrapper. The base flavor for the first couple of inches is grassy with soft bittersweet chocolate accents.
The herbal foundation of the cigar gradually gives way to a woodier flavor with a slightly tannic finish. It remains mild and mellow but the aroma intensifies, adding a shot of espresso to the sweetening chocolate.
Without much drama the cigar gently transitions to a nutty flavor and the chocolate overtones dissipate, leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste that is easily masked by a few swigs of black coffee.
If the Montecristo Reserva Negra is like a rich Godiva chocolate, then the H. Upmann Reserve Maduro is a handful of peanut M&Ms. The chocolatey aroma characteristic of San Andres maduro is utilized to great effect in both cases, but the Upmann is by far a milder bodied, less serious cigar.
My only complaint about the Upmann Reserve Maduro is the lack of transition — from start to finish this is a somewhat montonous smoke. Its one tune is sweet and easy listening, but after thirty minutes I wanted to change the station.
The Reserve Maduros are packed 27 to the box and retail for around 5 or 6 dollars per stick. If you’re a sucker for mild and sweet maduros, you’ll want to put this one on your sampling menu.