Cigars and Champagne have somewhat of a storied history.
There is of course the Davidoff Dom Perignon, named after the world’s most famous Champagne house. A handful of decades later came Illusione’s Epernay, named for an area in the heart of the Champagne-producing region and perhaps more importantly, made to pair with Champagne.
Rosé and cigars don’t enjoy the same sort of connections. Rosé, which some believe is the oldest form of wine, takes on a variety of different styles, regions and color, the latter of which probably helps to explain some of the reason why most people don’t think of rosé when pairing a cigar.
Cigars tend to be thought of as a masculine activity and rosé, with its pink to red colors, certainly looks more feminine.
Altadis U.S.A. certainly didn’t shy away from that color with the H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé, a follow-up to last year’s H. Upmann Ingot The Banker Private Holding. The boxes are pink. The bands are pink. There’s gigantic foil running almost the entire length of the cigar, and it is pink. The foot bands are pink. The only thing that’s not pink is the wrapper, which comes from Cameroon.
- Cigar Reviewed: H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- Wrapper: Cameroon
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & Peru
- Length: 6 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Churchill
- MSRP: $12 (Box of 12, $144)
- Release Date: September 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: 5,000 Boxes of 12 Cigars (60,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
You can’t really tell what the cigar looks like until the foil is removed. After that’s done, I’m a bit surprised given the wrapper looks like Cameroon, which it is. I’m a bit surprised Altadis U.S.A. went with this wrapper, as opposed to a very light Connecticut or even an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper as it probably would have gone with the theme a bit better. Aroma off the wrapper is medium-full with some underlying sweetness, cedar, pecan, and a weird dry bread-flavor that reminds me of walking into a Kentucky Fried Chicken.1 The foot is full with root beer, a strong cedar flavor, some creaminess and a touch of paint. I didn’t review the original Ingot The Banker. I’ve never smoked one. But I do remember one thing: the box wreaked of paint so bad we had to take the cigars out of the box and store them in their own bag—so as not to contaminate any other cigars in our humidors—and immediately throw the box out. I bring this up, because the cold draws of The Banker Ingot Rosé are almost exclusively paint. It’s full flavored with paint over paint over some undefined acidity and a touch of oatmeal at the back end. If I was not smoking these cigars for review, I probably would have stopped.
But this is a review and that means despite whatever lingering health concerns I might have, I light up the H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé. I’m pleasantly greeted by some lemon, walnuts, hoisin sauce and Cran•Apple juice. It’s actually quite pleasant and I don’t get any of the paint flavors that I picked up on the cold draw. The cigar loses a bit of sweetness as the first third develops, but it’s still quite rich and complex. A creamy cedar flavor is the most dominant with a damp waffle cone and meatiness behind it. On the tip of the tongue I get a sharp lemon and some saltiness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. One sample needs a touch-up, while the other two are fine.
My notes suggest that this blend “seems heavy (Dominican),” which is interesting considering the filler has Dominican tobacco, as well as leaves from Nicaragua and Peru. Whatever the case, the flavors shift a bit with a distinct creamed corn entering the profile, joined by peanuts and a rougher cedar upfront. Underneath that is some creaminess, much more isolated than before, meatiness, white pepper and bitter peach. On the back of the throat I get white pepper before the cedar comes in to finish the cigar out. Orange is present right as I take a retrohale, but it quickly disappears. Touch-ups are needed on all three cigars at some point in the second third, largely to keep the cigar burning. Elsewhere, the H. Upmann remains pretty much the same, particularly in its intensity levels.
It gets noticeably less sweet flavor-wise in the final third with the creaminess and the faint touches of fruitiness completely departing the profile. The Rosé becomes increasingly toastier with acorns and earth over top of the cedar. Complexity decreases, likely due to the increased puff rate in trying to keep the cigar burning until the end. As much as that constitutes as a big change, the largest is in the strength, which all of a sudden is full. It continues to build as each puff, a very surprising end to the H. Upmann, even as it happens for the third consecutive sample.
- Honestly, there are so many questions and general confusion I have with this release. Here’s the short of it:
- A. The packaging is not good. It’s not good by itself and it really makes no sense given what the cigar tastes like.
- B. This is a really good cigar that is going to be completely overshadowed by terrible marketing.
- In more specificity, here are my other issues:
- I’m confused as to why this cigar, which is packaged to look like a bottle of rosé, is part of The Banker series. What those two things have in common is beyond me.
- I’m quite baffled by what Altadis U.S.A. was going for with this release. The marketing material talks about cigar collectors, but I just don’t think the cigar is designed in a manner that is going to get your typical cigar collector excited to even try one, let alone a box.
- Looking at the minute details isn’t any better. I don’t understand the various fonts used on both the cigars and particularly the cursive script in the card included in the box. There’s also at least nine different fonts used on the box between the ones used by Altadis U.S.A., Boveda and the health warning.
- It requires a fair amount of force to remove the foil and keep the main band on the cigar. It’s not something I’d recommend doing as I can definitely see how this will damage a cigar. The good news is that there are actually two main bands, one is meant to be removed with the long piece of paper covering the bottom two thirds of the cigar. I’d recommend you just undo the main band, undo the foil and slide the foot band off. You’ll find that you still have a main band up top on the cigar.
- I find myself regularly complaining about the absolutely unnecessary use of foot bands, but this is on a different level. This cigar contains four pieces of paper: two main bands, the foil, and the foot band. I’m not sure what the point is, particularly since three of them are discarded before I light the cigar up and the massive piece of foil means consumers can’t really tell what the cigar looks like.
- I don’t know what H. Upmann, the brand, is supposed to be. In fact, I’m not sure what much of anything in Altadis U.S.A.’s portfolio is supposed to be. It’s one problem that both Atladis U.S.A. and to a lesser extent General Cigar Co. have to figure out if they want these legacy brands to thrive.
- Finally, this is a good cigar. If Altadis U.S.A. doesn’t have the employees that can recognize that the Rosé and the 92-rated VegaFina are different than just about every other cigar the company offers, then there are much larger issues. These are fundamentally different cigars than anything in the company’s portfolio, particularly compared to anything that is coming out of Tabacalera de García. Neither one of these cigars is being marketed to the people who might most enjoy them.
- I think this cigar would pair pretty well with a semi-sweet sparkling rosé. More and more I find pairings of medium-cigars with sparkling wine to be a satisfactory experience.
- Two of the three cigars were some of the best tasting cigars I’ve rated all year. Unfortunately, all three suffered from varying degrees of burn issues.
- Peruvian tobacco has one of the best histories of any. For a while, many Dominican manufacturers would label Colombian tobacco as Peruvian because they believed Americans would be wary of buying cigars with Colombian tobacco in them. For what it’s worth, I don’t find Peruvian and Colombian tobacco to taste similar.
- Strength is medium-plus to medium-full for the first half of the cigar, somewhere in the latter stage all three cigars ramped up to full.
- Altadis U.S.A. and JR Cigar, which are both owned by Imperial Brands, plc, advertise on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time is a lengthy two hours and 20 minutes.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., JR Cigar, Payless Cigars & Pipes and Smoke Inn all carry the H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé.
I’m unsure what to make of the H. Upmann The Banker Ingot Rosé in just about every way, including the cigar. All that being said, outside of the cold draw and a few burn issues, I really enjoyed it. The Rosé is the best cigar I’ve smoked from Altadis U.S.A. in a very long time and that’s a problem on a number of levels. One of them is the fact that most people that might enjoy a complex, rich and at times powerful cigar, will never try it. The pink packaging, the $12 price point, the fact the cold draw tastes like paint or the general attitudes of many advanced smokers towards a company like Altadis are all issues, many of them self-inflicted, that will lead the person who might enjoy this cigar to buy something else. The Rosé is not the blend to fix all those issues, but it does show that Altadis U.S.A., or more specifically Tabacalera de García, is capable of blending a legitimate 90+-point cigar, sans some burn issues, and that’s a huge step in the right direction.