Written by Puff Staff

Monday, 20 March 2006

User Rating: / 2

h upmann cuban vs non cubanhabanos
ratings and scores

The Great, Which Is Better Debate – The Cuban Brand or The American Brand
Round 1: H Upmann

This is it...It's time to Rumble!!! Which cigar is the best? Will it be the Cuban Brand Name Cigar? Will it be the same named American Version of the Cigar?

The scene of the debate is where the toilet water flows the opposite way! There is no Big Dipper – we have the Southern Cross in the sky at night. We are in the land where you can eat one of the two national emblems! Australia – Land of the Prisoners! Where else could we find a more apropos location to hold this grudge match between the two cigar behemoths?

Helping me with tonight’s tasting is Buddy the Lizard. If he runs away during my smoking of a cigar, it is a bad sign.Buddy the Lizard

We have my wife Angela to give us the Angela Factor. This is the pronouncement that if the cigar smells good, then I can leave the doors open while I smoke (should always include your wife in these tastings and in any articles you write, otherwise you are never allowed to have cigar parties or smoke on the patio). If it is a bad cigar, I will burn up $10 of incense to remove the odor.

Enough of the preliminaries and on with the fight.

In the Champions Corner is the Cuban H Upmann. It looks almost like a Macanudo, light and easy to smoke. This cigar could pass for a beginner's in the cigar battles from its looks. Just look at that outer wrapper, a nice light brown color with no smudges on it. You can see it is rolled well and is ready for a light to begin pummelling your senses.

In the Challengers Corner is the American H Upmann. Not just any H Upmann, but an H2000 that looks tanned and ready to go. It has that look of "smoke me I am the best!" With that dark outer leaf that feels like fine suede under your fingers, how could you not be impressed with this cigar?

Here are the rules of the fight. I will relate how each look to me in person (even with digital photos you have to see and hold these cigars to know the entire story) and how they feel to the touch. I will describe how they look up close and if I see or feel any imperfections.

Next I will smoke each cigar completely. I will be taking notes of how it tastes as I smoke the cigar. The aroma or aromas that come from the cigar. To help cleanse my palate now and then I will have a plain cracker and water. Unfortunately for me, during these bouts, I will not consume any alcohol that might cover the true flavor of the cigar. Finally, I will smoke the cigars on succeeding days. That way I can make sure my taste buds are fresh for each encounter. Finally I will switch between which country's entry I begin with first, this time I will begin with the Cuban and next time I will begin with the American. Everybody got it? Good!

On with the fight...

The Champion is the H Upmann Robusto, approximately five inches in length with a 50-ring gauge. It is a great hand rolled cigar; it has one half moon vein that runs the length of the cigar. The cigar feels firm in the fingers and has an excellent aroma. With an ample cap, it is easily cut and ready to fire up.

The first draw on this cigar lets you know immediately this cigar is not for the faint of heart. It is almost overwhelming in flavor and gives your head a quick spin. A draw back is that it does have a bit of acid and salty flavor to the tongue. 

As I continue to enjoy this Cuban representative, I see the ash is medium grey in color, with a lot of black zebra stripping. The draw continues to be A+, but the cigar is overly heavy on the nose. This is not a beginner's cigar; the looks are deceptive since it could pass for a light Macanudo. 

I must admit that this Cuban cigar is a lot sharper in taste than I remember from years past. There is considerable difference between this Cuban Upmann of today and one of five, ten and twenty years ago. From personal experience with this cigar in the past, I do not remember ever having an Upmann that was so sharp in taste. 

The ash began to bend over when I was about one inch into the smoke. It had a good even burn up this point. But from this point the Cuban Upmann taste went from a strong sharpness to a mild harshness. Earthy and nutty flavors that were initially intense have become burnt tasting.

After a good 45 minutes, I put the cigar down and let it die out like a good soldier. Although the flavor went from extremely strong, to sharp to a mild harshness, the cigar never was "Hot" in my mouth. It burned evenly all the way through and even though it was heavy on the nose, if you are a seasoned cigar connoisseur you would still enjoy this cigar because of the variety of its intense flavor.

Now with the Factors:
Angela Factor – She said it smelled CHEAP!
Buddy Factor – He stayed around through the whole cigar.

Overall I would say that the Cuban Upmann was a disappointment to me. I remember a cigar that was strong on flavor, but not overpowering as it was at times with this tasting. Although constructed extremely well, the Cuban Upmann did not have the mystique that it once held. Instead of flavors that blended well and let you know they were there, this cigar just blasted your mouth and nose like it was trying to overpower your senses. 

My score for the Cuban Upmann – 89!

Now onward to Round Two of this bout, with the challenger, the American branded Upmann H2000.

It looks dark, sleek and heavy when you first spy the challenger. When you put it between your fingers you notice how it feels smooth like fine suede. The aroma when you bring it to your nose is simply exquisite. (I have told you this all before, but it does need repeating!) 

The H2000 lights easily and burns very evenly. The first draw is smooth and in contrast to the Cuban Upmann, it is very easy on the nose. The aroma is light years ahead of the Cuban and the H2000 has absolutely no "acid" type of taste. 

As I continue to enjoy this fine cigar for the next hour, it continues to draw very well. I never have that "hot" taste or feeling you have in some cigars. The taste makes you feel rich and it does not overpower your senses at all. The ash is a light grey to light white, but uneven as opposed to the Cuban Upmann. In fact the H2000 ash was at least a third longer than its Cuban counterpart before it first fell off.

With the tasting continuing, the outer leaf took on a nice oily shine. I truly enjoyed rolling this cigar between my fingers, enjoying the rich aromatic aromas that wafted up from the cigar. 

There was one drawback to the H2000, a very hard vein right at the cap end. I waited to see if this defect would have an affect on my smoking pleasure of the cigar. 

Towards the end of the tasting the smoke was still cool on my mouth and nose, although it was getting a little hot to hold in my fingers. Finally this great soldier died out. The heavy vein did not have an affect on the flavor of the cigar, but it was still disconcerting to have such a big vein in the smoking end of the cigar.

Overall the H2000 was a superior cigar. It is not a beginner’s cigar, but it is not so heavy that most cigar connoisseurs could not enjoy the nuances of taste, aroma and the touch that the H2000 offers. 

Now with the factors:
Angela Factor – She loved the aroma of this cigar. Said it smelt rich and full.
Buddy Factor – He stayed with me from start to finish on this cigar also. 

Overall the only negative about the Upmann H2000 was the large and very firm vein at the cap end of the cigar. To my satisfaction, this one negative did not have any affect on the taste or smoking of the cigar. This cigar offered me what I like, good sensory enrichment! From taste, to touch to smell this cigar gave me something from start to finish. It drew well all the way through and never failed to give me pleasure during my hour of smoking.

My score for the H Upmann H2000 – 94!
H Upmann 2000 Vs. H Upmann Cuban
So the first round winner is clear and resounding, it goes to the American challenger. A shock I am sure to some, not to those that have experienced both cigars. Once again I must state that the mystique of the Cuban cigar is overblown in this case. The Cuban had a slight acid taste that remained with me on my tongue and lips from the initial light up. I did not realize this until I reviewed my notes to write this article. Just before writing this paragraph I went over notes I did about five years ago on the Cuban H Upmann and I was surprised to see how much quality difference it appears to have happened between that tasting and now. When I compare that to even older notes, you can readily remember and reflect on the downfall in quality with the Cuban cigar since the downfall of the old Soviet Union. The Cuban cigar of today does not have the flavor, taste or quality of five, ten and twenty years ago while their counterparts have been growing steadily in those same areas.

Until next time, this has been your host CigarGuyTim giving you the blow-by-blow description of the first round robin Cuban versus American cigars. May you always have a long ash and great cigar!

Cigar Guy Tim Reporting from Australia





Cigar Guy Tim
Reporting from
Down Under

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