H. Upmann is a brand name of premium cigar, made in two versions: one produced on the island of Cuba for Habanos SA, the Cuban state-owned tobacco company, and the other produced in La Romana, Dominican Republic for the Franco-Spanish tobacco monopoly Altadis SA, now part of Imperial Tobacco. Established in 1844, the H. Upmann brand is among the oldest in the cigar industry.
H. Upmann is among the oldest cigar brands in existence, dating back to the 1840s. Around 1840, banker Herman Upmann opened a branch office in Havana, which provided ample opportunity to send cigars home to Europe. The possibilities of a commercial endeavor became clear to Upmann and in 1844 he invested in a cigar factory and the H. Upmann brand was launched.
Upmann is sometimes credited with the invention of packaging cigars in cedar boxes to give to their customers. These original boxes were labelled with the H. Upmann name and contained other manufacturers' cigars, most likely as an advertisement for the operation, until the Upmanns bought their own cigar factory in 1844: the famous H. Upmann Factory, now known as the José Martí Factory, in Havana. In another version of the story, it was the Upmann brothers' nephews, German and Alberto, who founded the factory and the cigars became associated with it.
Through the late 1800s, the H. Upmann brand gained international recognition at various exhibitions and won seven gold medals which still adorn the lithographed art on today's H. Upmann boxes, along with Hermann Upmann's original signature.
Failure and reemergence
In 1922 both the H. Upmann Bank and the cigar business went bankrupt, the bank because of speculation in German marks and Mexican oil properties. p. A British firm, J. Frankau & Co., bought the brand name and continued production until 1935, when the company was sold to the recently established Menéndez y García Co., makers of the Montecristo brand. This new ownership group continued production of H. Upmann cigars until the nationalization of the tobacco industry after the Cuban Revolution.
The favorite cigar of US President John F. Kennedy was the H. Upmann Petit Upmann. The night before the embargo was signed, he had aide Pierre Salinger procure every box he could gather from Washington, DC tobacconists, for a total of 1,200 cigars.
After the Cuban Revolution
After the revolution, Menéndez and García moved the brand first to the Canary Islands, then the Dominican Republic, where production of this brand still continues for the American market under the ownership of Altadis SA.
The Cuban-made brand still remains a popular cigar in the world market, where it is made in a variety of fully handmade, hand-finished, and machine-made vitolas. In 2002, when Altadis SA bought a controlling share in Habanos SA, numerous changes were made to the Upmann lineup. The vast array of Upmann sizes was rationalized, with redundant and poor selling sizes among the company's more than 30 vitolas eliminated. By 2006, according to the company, the H. Upmann line had been whittled down to just seven handmade and five machine-made sized.
In 2005, Habanos SA made an uncharacteristic move by releasing a new H. Upmann size as part of their annual Edición Limitada release. This is odd because the rule of the past has been that only the five globally distributed marques (Cohíba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagás, and Hoyo de Monterrey) have been used for Edición Limitada releases, whereas H. Upmann is a multi-locally distributed brand. This limited edition size was the large Magnum 50, thought to be an enticement to smokers with whom the Magnum 46 is very popular. Shortly afterwards, Quintero was demoted to a multi-local brand in the Habanos portfolio and H. Upmann was raised to a global brand, with distribution in every nation that imports Habanos cigars.
Vitolas in the H. Upmann Line
The following list of vitolas de salida (commercial vitolas) within the H. Upmann marque lists their size and ring gauge in Imperial (and Metric), their vitolas de galera (factory vitolas), and their common name in American cigar slang.
- Connossieur No. 1 - 5" × 48 (127 × 19.05 mm), Hermoso No. 4, a corona extra
- Corona Junior - 4½" × 36 (114 × 14.29 mm), Cadete, a short panetela
- Corona Major - 5¼" × 42 (133 × 16.67 mm), Eminente, a corona
- Corona Minor - 4⅝" × 40 (117 × 15.88 mm), Coronita, a petit corona
- Epicure - 4⅜" × 35 (111 × 13.89 mm), Epicure, a short panetela
- Magnum 46 - 5⅝" × 46 (143 × 18.26 mm), Corona Gorda, a grand corona
- Majestic - 5½" × 40 (140 × 15.88 mm), Crema, a corona
- Monarca - 7" × 47 (178 × 18.65 mm), Julieta No. 2, a churchill
- No. 2 - 6⅛" × 52 (156 × 20.64 mm), Pirámide, a pyramid
- Petit Corona - 5⅛" × 42 (130 × 16.67 mm), Mareva, a petit corona
- Regalia - 5⅛" × 42 (130 × 16.67 mm), Petit Corona, a petit corona
- Sir Winston - 7" × 47 (178 × 18.65 mm), Julieta No. 2, a churchill
Edición Limitada Release
- Magnum 50 (2005) - 6⅜" × 50 (162 × 19.84 mm), Double Robusto, a double robusto
- Magnum 48 (2009) - 4⅜" × 48 (110 × 19.05 mm) Magnum 48, a short robusto
- Anwer Bati, The Cigar Companion: The Connoisseur's Guide. Third Edition. Philadelphia and London: Running Press, 1997; pg. 115.
- Wall Street Journal, 2 May 1922.
- "Review of H. Upmann Corona Major Cigar: JFK's Favorite Cigar". About.com. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Habanos SA's website.
- Min Ron Nee and Adriano Martínez Rius, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars. Hong Kong: Interpro Business Corporation, 2003.
- Official website of Habanos S.A.
- Reviews of H. Upmann Cigars
- H Upmann Cigars on the Cuban Cigar Website
- Video of Pierre Salinger on JFK's cigars