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Staff Reviews

H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon Robusto Larga Staff Review

Tom O. O's picture

Tom O.

It’s time to revisit a classic Cuban-legacy cigar with a Cameroon wrapper – one that’s been on store shelves for decades from a brand that actually dates back to the 1840s: H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon. I’m smoking a 5 x 50 Robusto Larga. I call this an “old man cigar.” Why? Because I mostly associate older guys who’ve been buying cigars since before the 1990s as being the biggest fans of H. Upmann. Believe it or not, there’s still a contingent of smokers out there who look for boxes and bands that haven’t changed in years. Either they’re fiercely brand loyal, or their eyesight is shot, and they keep on smoking the same ol’ cigars that look familiar to them. H. Upmann fits the bill, friends. Let’s find out what this classic Cameroon tastes like after all this time.   

H. Upmann is overshadowed by the more popular Cuban-heritage cigars, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, within the portfolio of Altadis U.S.A. – the parent company of several old-school brands handmade for the American market. To be fair, H. Upmann has gone through a considerable image makeover in the recent years with a Nicaraguan edition from AJ Fernandez, a yellow-banded Connecticut blend, and the revamped 1844 Reserve. Vintage Cameroon harkens back to another era with its maroon and white boxes and red and gold cigar bands. The Robusto Larga is sheathed in a cedar sleeve, and when I slide it off, a mellow aroma of nuts, wood, and coffee perfumes the nose. Inside, a bountiful core of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian long-fillers completes the package.

Hints of honey and cashews deliver a sweet residue after I clip the cap and take few cold draws from the head. Vintage Cameroon shimmers with an oily aura. Cameroon wrappers are much more scarce than they once were due to the political and military instability in Central Africa, where the precious wrapper crops are grown. They’re prized for their flavor, though, and you’ll often notice tiny bumps – called tooth – on the surface of the leaf, which are small pockets of oil, that indicate the wrapper’s authenticity.

The most traditional way to light a premium cigar is with a cedar spill, and since Vintage Cameroon is finished in one, why not put it to use? Lighting a cigar off a strip of burning cedar prevents any fuel impurities from invading a cigar’s flavor, and that’s why purists prefer the method. It’s a bit of a spectacle, though, because a towering flame bounces about while you’re puffing to ignite the cigar. Luckily, I don’t have any curtains to incinerate while I’m out smoking on my patio. An abundance of fragrant cigar smoke pushes out over my yard. It’s only a matter of moments before my neighbor emerges from behind the fence like a lost puppy dog looking for a treat.

Tasting notes of coffee and cocoa accompany hints of spice with a toasty aroma throughout the first fifteen minutes. A word of caution with Cameroon cigars, tap the ash off carefully. Cameroon is a naturally delicate wrapper leaf, and it’s susceptible to cracking if you bang your cigar on the ashtray with too much force. It’s also not uncommon for a crooked burn to occur occasionally on a Cameroon wrapper. A few touchups with my wind-resistant torch keeps the Robusto Larga on track. 

The cigar’s elegant and nutty sweetness continues as half of the cigar has expired. The draw is flawless and I can taste the difference made by aging a cigar in a cedar sleeve. Its woody and succulent flavor is consistent and stays away from any unwanted, bitter detours. H. Upmann’s multi-country blend comes together with lots of complex and creamy texture. Roasted nuts, buttered toast, and cedar mingle with hints of cinnamon and black pepper as the nub comes into focus.

The final minutes of Vintage Cameroon have won me over. Smoky notes of baking spices and cedar swell in an easygoing finish. I’m convinced the meat-and-potatoes crowd sticks with H. Upmann for the taste as much as the safety the same old band provides. Best of all, you can score a box for under $100 when H. Upmann is dropped into one of our daily Cuban-legacy deals. Add an old-time classic to your coolerdor today. Cheers!

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