In 2015, Altadis U.S.A. shipped a unique new creation with a very interesting backstory. The Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch was a cigar was reportedly produced for the company’s Grupo de Maestros, a team of six managers of Altadis U.S.A.’s Tabacalera de García factory located in La Romana, Dominican Republic.
However, that first release was not the final chapter in the Grupo de Maestros series, as the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch II was shipped the next year and the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch III was released in 2017. Fast forward to the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, where Altadis U.S.A. showed off the newest addition, which for the first time was not under the Montecristo marca.

The newest member of the family is the H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut, a four-vitola line that commemorates the 175th anniversary of the Cuban H. Upmann brand next year. Not only is the new cigar the first in the series to be covered with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, but it also is the first to feature two different wrappers thanks to a maduro cap on the head. Internally, the blend includes a Dominican binder and filler tobaccos hailing from both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and the cigars are being rolled at the Tabacalera de García factory.
There are currently four different vitolas of the H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut, all of which are packaged in boxes of 20.

  • H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut Robusto (5 x 52) — $8.35 (Boxes of 20, $167)
  • H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut Toro (6 x 50) — $8.60 (Boxes of 20, $172)
  • H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut Belicoso (6 1/8 x 52) — $8.80 (Boxes of 20, $176)
  • H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut Churchill (6 3/4 x 48) — $8.95 (Boxes of 20, $179)

  • Cigar Reviewed: H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut Belicoso
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera de García
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut & Connecticut Maduro)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: $8.80 (Boxes of 20, $176)
  • Release Date: October 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Covered in a golden brown wrapper, the H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut is silky smooth to the touch, with a thin sheen of oil easily visible. The cigar features a distinctive and very noticeable cap made up of darker tobacco and is quite spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong nutmeg and sweet bananas along with cedar, leather, earth, barnyard, almonds and white chocolate, while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy peanuts, oak, cocoa nibs, hay, earth and coffee beans.

Staring out, the Grupo de Maestros Connecticut features a fairly standard dominant combination of leather and cashew flavors, along with cedar, cinnamon, hay and earth in various amounts. There is a touch of white pepper on the retrohale, along with some orange citrus sweetness, but neither note is strong enough to make much of an impact as of yet. The draw is excellent so far with just the right amount of resistance after a v-cut, but the burn needs a touch up early on to keep from getting out of control. Smoke production is right around average, while the overall strength really struggles to make it out of the mild range by the time the first third closes.

Thankfully, the orange citrus sweetness on the retrohale becomes a bit more prevalent during the second third of the H. Upmann, combining nicely with the still dominant flavors of leather and nuts. Other notes flit in and out as well, including hay, earth, potato chips, cedar and dark chocolate, along with just a touch of mocha coffee on the finish. The white pepper on the retrohale has also increased in strength noticeably, although it is still fairly light in the grand scheme of things. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress, while the burn that was a bit problematic has now become almost totally trouble-free. There is one big change: the overall strength ramps up in a significant way, coming close to a solid medium by the end of the second third.

The final third of the H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut is a virtual carbon copy of the second third, with the same leather and nuts combination easily dominant, followed by other flavors of gritty earth, hay, cedar, dark cocoa, coffee beans and a touch of cinnamon. Although the level of the white pepper has remained about the same, the orange sweetness on the retrohale has decreased quite a bit, leading to less complex profile overall. The draw continues to be excellent, but the burn has started to waver again, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times. Finally, after a significant push in the second third, the strength has stalled, ending up pretty much in the sample place it was by the time I put the nub down with a little less than an inch left.Final Notes

  • This newest release in the series is also the first time: that the cigars were not packaged in 100-count boxes made in part from the shelving of the Tabacalera de García aging room, the cigar is offered in more than a single vitola; and aren’t limited.
  • I am not really sure what purpose of the cap of darker tobacco is, but to me it makes the cigars look a bit unfinished compared to examples that feature more elaborate designs like the La Flor Dominicana
  • Each of the three samples I smoked had a soft spot between the secondary band and the foot, although they were located in different places.
  • Interestingly, while the cold draw is quite restrained in terms of the flavors I picked up, the main scent I noticed emanating from the wrapper was a very distinct nutmeg note combined with earth and banana sweetness.
  • Altadis U.S.A. and its sister companies advertise on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 39 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co.,, Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar have them in stock.
84 Overall Score

It is not often that I find the aroma exceeds the actual flavors in a cigar, but that was the case multiple times with the H. Upmann Grupo de Maestros Connecticut. While the wrapper smelled strongly of nutmeg and bananas, the actual profile is restrained in nearly every aspect—in fact, some might call it bland—with very few flavors really distinguishing themselves on the palate. Construction was fine overall and the strength is well-integrated, but there were very few flavor transitions, leading to a fairly monotonous profile that is not going to challenge your conceptions on what a Connecticut-wrapped blend is anytime soon.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.