One of the oldest and most respected premium brands, H. Upmann cigars have historically been the preferred smokes of many a famous aficionados.
Hermann Upmann, of the famed German banking family, founded this legendary cigar brand in 1844. A financial prodigy, Herman was sent to Cuba to head up a branch of the family bank. Young Hermann, a cigar aficionado, jumped at the opportunity to live in the famed homeland of premium cigars. Not long after arriving on the Cuban shores, Herman opened the legendary H. Upmann cigar factory and tobacco leaf Trade Company, thereby combining business and pleasure.
H. Upmann cigars are known for their beautiful construction, most of them with perfect Colorado hue wrappers. For the most part, H. Upmann cigars are mild to medium in strength, but they are very rich in taste and aroma. As the production spread to include tobacco leaves from other cigar countries, the span of strengths and flavors has expanded to include full-bodied smokes, while maintaining their reputation for superior quality. In fact, you can now find H. Upmann cigars to satisfy the tastes of most aficionados, no matter their preference.
Hermann appointed Joseph Frankau of J. Frankau & Co., as H. Upmann's agent for the United Kingdom. After watching the brand and factory undergo many a transformation and ownership change over the years, J. Frankau & Co. bought the factory and the brand in 1922. In 1936 they had enough of remote management, and sold it to Alonso Menéndez of Menéndez, García y Cía Co. This firm, too, went through many transformations and ownership changes, yet their brand representation continues to this day.
Following the embargo on Cuba, production of H. Upmann cigars was relocated to the Dominican Republic, primarily for the purpose of producing cigars for the US market. These cigars are made in the world’s largest handmade cigars factory: Altadis’s Tabacalera de Garcia S.A.S., situated in La Romana. La Romana is famous also for its great golf course 'Diente De Perro', which was designed by the great Pete Dye. Golf and cigars have always been a swell combination!
Not content to produce just Dominican tobacco cigars, the H. Upmann line has been enriched to include Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos, made exclusively for Altadis USA.
Kennedy's Infamous Upmanns
In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of a disastrous war. In response to the threat, President John F. Kennedy enacted a trade embargo on Cuba. As a consequence President Kennedy's favorite cigar, the H. Upmann's Petite and Petite Corona cigars, were about to be made illegal.
With the embargo just hours away, President Kennedy sent then press secretary Pierre Salinger on a mission to acquire every box of Upmann Petites that was to be found in the Washington DC area. Salinger set off and ended up every Upmann Petite he could get his hands on, 1200 in all. It was only after his return to the oval office that President Kennedy signed the embargo, making all future sales of Cuban cigars illegal. In response to this proclamation, H. Upmann opened their Dominican Tobacco plant, setting into the motion the future of the H. Upmann label.
Did you know: Cigar boxes, as we know them today, originated at the original H. Upmann factory in Cuba?
When the managers of the London branch of the Upmann bank tasted the cigars that Herman Upmann made in Cuba, they asked for a regular supply of them. To preserve the quality of the cigars on the long ride back to England, Hermann chose wooden cigar boxes made from the wood of the Spanish Cedar tree. These boxes of 25 and 50 cigars were so well received that Hermann began packaging all his cigars in his new creation.
The boxes, branded with the bank's seal, proved to be aesthetically appealing in addition to the moisture controlling qualities they innately contained. These boxes became so popular that they were soon adopted by other manufacturers, and quickly became a standard in the world of cigars.
Today, the H. Upmann boxes are adorned with colorful artwork, and are decorated with many of the various gold medals and awards the brand has won over the years. Most notably, the boxes still bear the personal hand-written signature of Hermann Upmann, a testament to their commitment in maintaining the quality and care they established nearly 200 years ago.