H. Upmann The Banker

During a supply run for the potential tropical depressions that might develop into named hurricanes, it is tradition to stock up on libations.  So I found myself in the humidor at Total Wine and looking for something fun to smoke.   While I picked up a few sticks that are tried and true, I recalled how interesting the H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez had been for it’s creaminess, so I decided to try something by the same label, the Banker by H. Upmann.

The Banker by H. Upmann

This has a combination of things that I found interesting– the ring is huge but not that gaudy, as it’s being used to hold up a nice piece of parchment.   It’s tastefully rendered in green and gold that are colors usually associated with financiers.  It’s also a square roll, which is not my favorite box pressed but it is something that is unique to run into.

Banker Squareness

After unwrapping the parchment from this cigar, the understated creaminess that I got from the AJ Fernandez was a compliment to the lead flavors.  Unlit, the bigger aromas were leather, coffee, and spice.

After lighting, this really opened up the flavors of leather, and spice–  I got a nutmeg out of this on the first part of the cigar, and that nuanced creaminess helped balance everything out.  This didn’t make this a sweet cigar, this was more like a sense on the back of the tongue that indicated that was the final flavor of the inhale.  The smoke lingers languidly, and smells of leather and coffee with tobacco.

Banker Foot

The draw is smooth without being too easy, and it made a decent foot that didn’t feel like it was going to fall off the cigar without warning.  At the midpoint, the cigar was still quite predominantly leather in flavor, but the coffee had faded and the nuttiness and nutmeg developed quite pleasantly.   Towards the end of this cigar, it had a dryness that reminded me of a red wine, and I decided to throw in a square of chocolate into my experience.

Choccy and Banker

Like so many other things, I like chocolate to be dark.  I also rather enjoy my sweets to be a bit on the salty side, so I love the sea salt addition.  This paired well with the cigar and the sparkling water I was drinking at this stage.  The ending notes of this cigar are more coffee than leather, with a tinge of nutmeg and that almost elusive creaminess that really helps this stick bloom.   As far as I’m concerned, this is another winner for a good medium body evening smoke with friends.  It would go well with coffee, liquor of any choosing, and any soft drink that I can think of.

Alpha Infused Edition New Orleans

As I posted in the Alpha Infused post, I picked this up at the Heights Cigar Shop. They had several varieties of the Absinthe infused cigars, and I wanted to know the differences.  This is the Alpha Infused edition New Orleans,  which is a smaller half corona style, and popular enough that I took the last two in stock.  While there isn’t a ring on these, I do love the label on the inside of the cigar box.

Empty New Orleans Edition

I decided to light this up at a picnic among friends this past weekend. By some wonderful miracle, it was a gorgeous afternoon that did not rain during the time we all were eating and mingling.  It was lovely to have a pop-up tent, a steady breeze, a comfy camp chair, some grilled eats, the great company of some fantastic people, and a tasty cigar.

Alpha Infused edition New Orleans

While this particular version of the Alpha Infused is smaller, it’s certainly not short on flavor.  And honestly, it doesn’t look interesting as it’s sold only in a cellophane wrapper with no ring, no indication of what potential it has. Much like the larger cigar, this had a beautiful aroma before lighting.  A bit more floral in notes than the larger version, and spicy.  The New Orleans edition doesn’t have quite the amount of creaminess that had been in the larger cigar.   After lighting, it doesn’t ease up on the flavors.  This cigar is strong in the ways of the wormwood and absinthe spices.  Perhaps the smaller version just made the melange of flavors more compact and intense on delivery.

Edition New Orleans Foot

The draw is smooth and not too easy, which is good on a smaller cigar.  A foot was certainly doable, although I didn’t want to get it too long.  While in the large cigar the spiciness mellowed, that was not the case with the edition New Orleans.  This cigar does not ease up with any mellowness at all.  The spice flows along the smoke and it stays very steady through the whole of the stick– there’s a bit of the creaminess that I found fascinating in the large cigar, but it’s certainly a flavor you’d have to remember to find as it’s not very apparent.  This stick is a tiny intense smoke of deliciousness.  It will not go gentle into that night, and it was a perfect picnic smoke.

Tatuaje Jekyll & Hyde

I’ve been watching old episodes of Top Gear on Amazon Prime, and James Nesbitt was the celebrity guest on the episode I watched yesterday.  He looked so familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him until I realized that I had thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal of Hyde and Tom Jackman in the BBC mini series of Jekyll.  I felt that he had executed the role of two men in one physical form quite well, he almost felt animated as Hyde.   This is still one of my favorite adaptations of the story and if you can get a chance to watch it, please do.  It’s definitely a horror story with elements of a crime drama and just a dash of dry humor to really be enjoyable.

Charming Jekyll
Photo from IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497298/

But as I was watching his go around the track with the Top Gear crew, I remembered how I had saved two of the Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters for years to have an occasion special enough to smoke them: the Jekyll and the Hyde.  A few months back, I was in a rather nasty accident with an uninsured driver. Had it not been for my own fast reactions, more than my car would have been totaled. Those next days, I decided the occasion that was special enough to smoke those cigars was that I was still standing (albeit, painfully, but still standing) and that saving things for a special occasion may not always lead to that said special event.  So I broke out the Han in Dark Chocolate Carbonite, some wine, and my Jekyll and Hyde.

Han in Dark Choconite

I was still a little shaken to drive the Sunday after the accident, so my friends met me at my apartment’s patio to enjoy their cigars with me.  And I had saved these for so long that I honestly don’t remember where the Jekyll came from (it was released in 2014), but I know that the Hyde had been given to me by a friend who also loved the Pudgy Monsters series. The Hyde had been enjoyable but I had forgotten to get any evidence of this (which is a damn shame), so we’re going to go full force into the Jekyll, which was definitely my favorite of the two.


Tatuaje did a clever thing with the rings on the Monsters series– they’re all colors that would be associated with the beastie they’re named after.   For the Jekyll, it’s a lighter cream label with a hint of green while the Hyde label is full on green and black, in honor of the potion that Jekyll made to become is more dramatic half.   While one might think a cigar that has been crafted after a character who was conflicted about his own goodness and vileness would be mild and demure, the Jekyll is probably one of the pepperiest cigars I’ve had. I absolutely loved it.  The first whiff while unlit was earthy and peppery, with a tinge of something that reminds me of the ocean.

Lit Jekyll

After being lit, the spicy pepper smoke takes over.  It feels as though there’s a bit of salt to the stick, just to make the peppery notes even more pronounced.  The beginning of this cigar were both light and punchy at the same time– as the aroma of chili wasn’t expected but it wasn’t a heavy handed tobacco flavor.  At the midpoint, the earthiness comes back, and the saltiness dies down.  The peppery smoke stayed with me through the whole of the smoke, though.  It was relentless and amazing.   The draw was firm, but not difficult and this cigar was definitely a longer smoke.  It made me slow down and actually savor the moment, which was precisely what my rattled nerves needed.

This is a fantastic stick, and I am hoping to grab more of the Pudgy Monsters this October, if I’m so lucky to find another box of them.

Padron Anniversary Series

One of the things I like most about the culture around cigar smoking is that there’s such a variety to enjoy, and that there’s so many nuances to enjoy it that can affect the final smoke.  The first time I had Padron Anniversary Series, was tickled most by the fact that this was my very first cigar with a serial number.   I’ve since had the honor of smoking other Anniversary Series and having the opportunity to use a variety of cutters to explore other ways the flavors draw through the cigar. But this first time, I relished that this was a beautiful box-pressed cigar (and I have come to realize that I prefer a classic box pressed stick) with an elegant but simple design to the cigar ring.

As this was gifted to me, I can’t tell you about the establishment that sold it, but I can tell you that the other times I’ve smoked this label it has been consistently great.  For this go, I had a glass of vodka (Tito’s is usually my house brand) on the rocks and I enjoyed this on the patio of my apartment.

Generally, I think smoking within the scope of abodes is just a more natural setting to enjoy a cigar.  I don’t mean within the house, but having a stick with a group of friends or on my own within the security of someplace private just seems to have a better chance of actually relaxing me.  And that’s part of what having a cigar is about– relishing that moment, not rushing it. Enjoying and savoring the time it takes to smoke a cigar.   While I obviously don’t mind having my sticks within the lounge scene,  I feel that having a moment privately just makes the whole experience better.

The cigar is great with a straight cut or a v-cut. I haven’t tried it with a punch,  but I suspect it’ll still be great.  It’s got a mellow leathery smell before it’s lit, and after it’s lit, there’s notes of coffee and notes of vanilla.    At the mid-point, the vanilla turned more cocoa, and the finish of the cigar had a nice hint of pepper and nuttiness to it.   In fact, I’d say that the complexities of this cigar are hard to describe, as the strength of the varied flavors changes as the cigar is smoked.  The leathery aroma was prevalent more at the beginning and the end, but diminished in the middle of the stick.   To me, the cocoa notes only showed up in the middle.  The coffee was throughout the stick, but stronger at the end and the beginning. The tiny hint of vanilla only seemed to be at the beginning, but I feel like that was mostly in the smoke from the cigar’s wrapper. The draw was smooth, and allowed for the creation of  a nice foot on the cigar.   This is a cigar I have enjoyed several times and look forward to enjoying several more times.

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature

I was gifted an Arturo Fuente Reserva Corona Hemingway Signature a few weeks ago from a very dear and close friend. It was my choice for my own personal Independence Day smoke.  As this year’s 4th of July is in the middle of the week, I opted to make it a low-key day. I decided to stay in my lovely air-conditioned abode, dodge the inevitable mid-afternoon-to-evening storm (I had planned on grilling some food, but storm axed that idea) and enjoy the view from my windows and patio. I wandered out to attempt to grill some food(and got soaked for it), and do some physical exercise, but generally I waited for nightfall to enjoy my cigar, a glass of wine, and a fantastic view of fireworks around the Tampa Bay area.

Since this stick was a gift, I won’t be able to fairly say where it was purchased.  Instead, I will offer you a bit of insight and nostalgia on friendship. There are some that think that there’s a soulmate for everyone, I believe that everyone has more than one soul mate. There are likely people in your lives that mean nearly everything to you, and it doesn’t always have to be a romantic relationship. Love should come to all of us in many guises, and a full life should include more than one type of affection in one’s life.  I have been blessed to have friends for whom my soul would be less. My dearest, closest friends may not always been in my same zip code, but they reside in my heart, always. So, for Independence Day, I wish you the ability to recognize the love of those who have supported you, and that you are in a position to be supportive to those you care most about.

Enough blabber, let’s get to the cigar!

Arturo Fuente has a stellar reputation, and this cigar is certainly evidence as to why. Dominican filler around an aromatic Cameroon wrapper lends this cigar a unique puffability. The smoke from this cigar is almost like airy cotton candy– it doesn’t smell sweet, but it’s got a swirl to it which makes smoking this stick even more enjoyable and relaxing.  It rises slowly, and lingers in the air around you, providing a lovely aroma of this medium body cigar.

The draw on this isn’t just smooth, it’s downright easy.  I don’t usually subscribe to the ‘long foot’ methodology of ashing my cigar, but this particular cigar lends itself well to allowing the smoker to draw smoothly and easily without needing to ash right away.  There’s notes of a light coffee, and a hint of a vanilla in the exhale. The cigar actually is very consistent– there’s no new nuance of flavor from the beginning to the end of the smoke.

Overall, I would recommend this medium to light-ish side of cigars to just about anyone looking to have a pleasant and relaxing smoke before a good evening or at the end of a long day.