H. Upmann The Banker

Today the Nubbit brothers invest some time with the latest from H.Upmann – The Banker.

The Banker Arbitrage cigarWrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican

The Banker brand consists of three vitolas: The Arbitrage (7x56), the Annuity (6x52), and the Currency (5.5x48).

We are smoking three sticks each, which we purchased. All three of Draw’s are the large Arbitrage, while Punch smoked one of each size.

It is always good to have a theme or back story when introducing a new blend; like freshly severed head, or car engine parts, or a prescription for mental illness, or anything patriotic. The Banker’s story can be found on the H. Upmann web site and goes something like this:

In 1844, German bankers Carl and Herman Upmann traveled to Cuba where they created an exceptionally unique cigar. They securely locked it away in their vaults to be gifted to their most important clients.

Now, 170 years later, that award-winning blend has been recreated in The Banker by H. Upmann. “

Let’s see what kind of interest The Banker can earn as we smoke it.

Punch: These have a nice, distinctive look. 80% is covered with vellum and a foot band along with the regular band. After taking the foot band off I could pull hard on the vellum wrap and free it from under the top band. I found out later that I didn’t need to do that strenuous tugging, as it has two upper bands sandwiching the vellum, and I could have just removed the outer one.

This fancy durable vellum makes me feel like I should write a short, important note on it. Maybe something like “This is a STICK up.” Or, “I have a gub.” (My penmanship isn’t so neat.)

Draw: After talking to Punch on Skype about “smoking The Banker” we pretty much expect the NSA/FBI on our doorsteps any time now. And after what you just said about notes, I suspect it will be more a matter of minutes, than hours.

This is a good looking stick. There’s a mild vellum finish to the wrapper, and a visible thin vein or two. The triple cap appears to be applied with an abundance of glaze, but this made it a very crisp punch. I notice a few soft spots, but peering at the foot reveals a pretty uniform bunch of filler. The scent is cocoa powder, and urea. More straw then than hay, if any straw at all. The cold draw is bittersweet chocolate, or, thus, more cocoa, and some very mild floral or fruit. Very mild saltiness, and a loose-to-medium draw.

P: After using my big punch, the draw on the Arbitrage and the Currency was medium. But the Annuity was way tight. I poked that one with a cake tester to gain a very small improvement in the draw, but it is still unsatisfactorily tight for me. The pre-light draw yields some mild fruit and cigarette tobacco like my grandpa’s cigarette packs used to smell – Pall Mall if I remember correctly.

Initially on lighting, I get some sweet tea and new leather – overall a mild flavor. The Currency had a slightly harsh attack followed by some melon rind and leather.

D: MELON RIND! Yes!! Honeydew rind!

P: At one-half inch in the attack has become decidedly sweet and the melon has faded.

D: The melon rind comes across to me as green coffee bean. Overall the flavor is kind of mild. There is almost a mint in the aftertaste. On my second one I got way more leather, particularly on the attack. The finish, this puff, had a hint of hazelnut – I don’t know if that’s really what I tasted, but its the word that came to mind. Not so much mint this time.

P: Starting the second third the flavor profile is really pretty simple: leather and tobacco, with a slight sweetness and pepper on the finish. The body is close to medium, but does not have much breadth. The burn has been like a glowing pencil point with the wrapper staying consistently a half inch or farther ahead of the glowing tip of the filler. In the two smaller vitolas I noticed some sweet cedar coming on at this point. The Annuity is still way too tight for my liking, hindering a satisfactory volume of smoke production.

D: Similar here – green coffee bean or melon rind with new leather in the middle and finish. There is some mint on the back of throat in the aftertaste. The burn line has been even; ash held for almost two inches until a purge caused it to drop. The flavor has been mild-to-medium, not overly complex, and very consistent. Nothing objectionable at this point. The smoke volume has been generous.

Into the second third on one of mine, there was a pungency starting… I also had a sudden peninsula pop up. The pungency is piney, and is throughout the flavor profile. After stoking from the touch up, I purged the stick a bit and… it worked to clear the pine from the draw, but not from my mouth.

P: At halfway I noticed some sweet cedar coming on in the big stick, too.

D: Same here. But it came and went. It left the sweetness, and a touch of cream which shows up through the draw, evening things out. Purging routinely removes the cedar. I am definitely a little loopy from the nicotine, now.

P: You think you are only loopy, now?

Here in the last third my cedar is still present in the background, otherwise not a lot of change except for a slight increase in the flavor intensity. When I removed the band on the Arbitrage the wrapper underneath began flaking/unwrapping – we’ll see what happens when the burn line gets there.

The flavor profile on the Annuity is remaining consistent – leather and sweet cedar – as with the larger Arbitrage. Maybe a slight meatyness in the finish. And the smaller Currency at this point is also sweet cedar, but with wood instead of leather. It seems to have a simpler, but stronger, flavor.

D: At about this point, with the first of these I tried, I was overwhelmed with the headiness. I took in a Pepsi, and I never got my groove back. The Pepsi dominated the subtler flavors. I’m going to call no-joy on this particular stick – not it’s fault, but rather due to my inability to handle the nicotine right now.

With the next one I tried, at just under four-fingers, I got a lot of cedar/pine, which can be ameliorated by purging, bringing forth a dill-like flavor, along with the cream and leather. What I get is reminiscent of chicken-salad: a pleasant but surprising taste. Still a minty residue. This is not a cigar to rush; the flavor spoils quickly when hotboxed. The challenge is, especially near the end, to toke often enough to prevent it from going out, without overheating it. When done right, the flavor is really quite interesting, very meaty with just a touch of “horseradish” as zing.

P: Having lost the wrapper integrity on this Arbitrage, the draw in the last inch-and-a half is really loose. I’m getting some meat flavor. Unfortunately it is getting very mushy and disintegrating rapidly, preventing me from taking it any farther to finish it.

D: I’ve never started a cigar that didn’t have a finish.

P: So you are getting philosophical on me? Like pilots say “taking off is optional, landing is mandatory”.

Burn it or Spurn it?

Punch: This is a stick you can bank on to be good. It has a nice, interesting, progression; starting a bit harsh but quickly moving to new leather and melon rind, then to sweet cedar – up until into the last third where it stayed earthy with cedar. I preferred the smaller Currency as it moved along faster than the bigger denominations, making the changes more obvious to me. Medium-full bodied, and if you take it easy the nicotine should not become a problem. The construction and burn were great overall, with the exception of the wrapper lifting under the band on the large, Arbitrage. This is one of the best I have had of late and is well worth caching a few in your humidor for heading off a depression.

Draw: Put these on deposit. If you’re like me, you’re out of work and living in your parents’ basement, but you’ll think The Banker is a good cigar. Consistent flavor to the last third where the flavor gets meaty. Go easy on it and your interest will grow. A great return on your investment.

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