For the most part, cigars tend to come packaged in boxes—or bundles—of 10, 15, 20, 24, 25 or 50 cigars. Every once in a while there’s a rare 11-count box, but I can’t recall writing about a cigar that comes packaged in boxes of 200. At least until Warped announced Upper Realm.
Upper Realm is a 5 x 48 Rothschild vitola made entirely of Nicaraguan tobacco. An Instagram post from Warped went further into detail about those tobaccos:
Blended to showcase the 3 prime growing regions of Nicaragua, and enter into a new realm of flavor profile for Warped. Esteli Criollo ‘98 is the dominant varietal for this 100% Aganaorsa Nicaraguan Puro. Jalapa Corojo ‘99 and Condega Corojo ‘99 fill out the remainder of the blend.
“I wanted to showcase all of the power of Nicaragua into this blend and go beyond our comfort zone of the percentage of Esteli for the blend,” said Kyle Gellis, Warped’s founder, in that post. “It’s a spice revolving door for the first third before the Jalapa starts to shine all while having the underlying earthiness of Condega. It’s a complex and perplexing experience with a core of balance.”
While the MSRP is only $12.50 per cigar, the unique packaging quantity means that each box has an MSRP of $2,500 per box. While there were 50,000 cigars created, the release is limited to 250 numbered boxes.
- Cigar Reviewed: Upper Realm
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo 2012)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $12.50 (Box of 200, $2,500)
- Release Date: November 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 200 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While not a particularly large cigar, I find that each Upper Realm feels a bit light for the size. That said, the cigars are rolled to a very impressive cylindrical shape, very much what I would think of as the prototypical cigar shape. The Upper Realm’s wrapper has a great amount of oil and a reddish hue breaking through the brown color. There’s a lot going on with the band, most notably the words “UPPER REALM” embossed onto the band, albeit in the same near-black color of the band, hiding it quite a bit. The aroma from the wrapper has nuttiness, aloe and a tingle that is reminiscent more of sawdust than pepper, though I don’t taste much sawdust flavor. The foot is slightly stronger, around medium-full, with chocolate, oak, some new carpet smell, and minor amounts of caramel. Cold draws have some ammonia along with a very defined white rice flavor, sweet red grapes, cocoa and pine. Flavor-wise, everything is very intertwined; construction-wise, I find the resistance on two cigars to be loose for the size.
It begins with peanut butter, chocolate, oak, earthiness and creaminess. One sample starts sourer than the other two, with no nuttiness to be found. I find that each Upper Realm has a lot of bright and fresh hay and leather flavors. That can make it seem like the cigar is a bit young, but I don’t think that’s actually what’s happening here. Secondary flavors include oak, roasted pork meatiness, barnyard, popcorn and touches of green pepper. The finish includes rocky mineral flavors, creaminess, leather, vegetal flavors and a mild sweetness. One cigar has a kettle chip flavor, but all three are too vegetal for my liking. Retrohales are very different with a dominant bright red pepper over wood, leather, mineral and bread flavors. The finish sees the vegetal flavors really stand out alongside some tzatziki sauce-like creaminess, leather, oak and some citrus. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. As was the case with the cold draw, the resistance on two cigars is open. Touch-ups are needed to help with both smoke production and uneven burns on all three cigars.
While the vegetal flavor is still present during the second third, it’s reduced. Oak and stale bottled water flavors take over as the top spots. The fresh hay remains as a secondary flavor, joined by the aforementioned vegetal flavors, a sharpness reminiscent of alcohol burn, and some yellow mustard. The finish has a very defined watered-down bourbon flavor along with oak, popcorn and cinnamon. The harshness and vegetal flavors combine to sort of muddy the refinement of the profile. Retrohales continue to be quite a contrast compared to the main flavors. This time nuttiness and a mineral-laden earthiness lead strawberry, black pepper, leather and some rubber-like flavors. The finish has peanut butter, popcorn, wheat and burnt bread. Unlike the other parts of the profile, the finish of the retrohale is very intertwined. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. Each cigar is burning a bit hot and showing other signs that it might be underfilled. Two cigars need touch-ups, though the other one is burning like a champ.
Oak and earthiness edge out leather as the strongest flavors in the profile. That trio is substantially stronger than everything else, which is pretty similar to the second third. Vegetal flavors, straw, black pepper and a peach sweetness serve as secondary notes. The peach sweetness picks up during the finish, though, unfortunately, the harshness does as well. Retrohales see a return of the white rice flavor, joined by floral flavors, white pepper and some honey sweetness. Unlike the first two thirds, the Upper Realm’s retrohale is now clearly stronger than if I just puff without sending smoke through my nose. Unfortunately, the finish is not as pleasant; white rice and leather dominate over white pepper and some generic harshness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full and slowly getting more intense. I still find that the cigars are burning hot, but it’s not as hot as before. Unfortunately, two cigars need touch-ups in the final third.
- I cannot think of another cigar that comes in a box, not humidor, of 200 cigars. There are a number of releases that have come in 100-count boxes—most famously, the Rocky Patel The Edge—and La Flor Dominicana’s Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch series comes in boxes of 105 cigars, but 200 is a very different number.
- While there’s no way of knowing, I’d be curious to find out how many of these are sold to consumers as intact boxes.
- It also presents a bit of a weird scenario that a retailer would almost certainly need to open up one box to let a consumer at least try the cigar before they agree to purchase 200 of them.
- Two of the three cigars showed a number of signs that each might have been underfilled: the cigars felt light, the draws were open, the cigars burned hot and the they both routinely felt like they were close to going out. The third cigar showed some, but not all of those signs.
- While rarely the strongest flavor, the near-ever-present vegetal flavor really impacted the profile. Combined with the hay flavor, it created an interesting fresh-tasting mixture that I would have been fine with for 10 or 15 minutes but wasn’t enthralled with to taste throughout the majority of the cigar.
- I hadn’t remembered what this blend was while smoking the cigars, but was surprised to be reminded of both the blend and the factory once I started writing up this review. While I understand AGANORSA has a wide library of tobaccos, this is not what I think of when I think of AGANORSA’s Nicaraguan tobaccos. I think this only furthers the idea that something was off in the bunch, likely affecting combustion, which then affects flavors.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time is one hour and 20 minutes.
I would be surprised if the cigars I smoked were deemed "properly bunched" by the people who actually bunch cigars in a factory. As such, I'm pretty sure that what I smoked isn't what was intended, which makes the whole review process somewhat weird. I can only review what's in front of me and perhaps what I smoked was what the blend was supposed to be, but I'm skeptical that's the case. The flavors were certainly unique—not always for the better—but the real takeaways were obvious and persistent construction issues.