Origin : Cuba
Format : Churchill / Julieta No. 2
Size : 178 mm (7) x 47
Ring : 47
Price : N/A (prerelease)
H. Upmann is one of the oldest and most respected brands. Created in 1844, the marca is known for its soft to medium blend and delicate flavors.
I have always been a Sir Winston aficionado. Its creamy texture and soft development makes it a lovely long cigar for any time of the day. Therefore I was delighted when Habanos S.A. decided to make a Gran Reserva with one of my favorite vitola from an elegant flavored blend.
Habanos will be releasing 5,000 numbered boxes of 15 cigars.
The first night of the XIXe festival del Habanos was quite challenging. The rain was the last minute guest and didn’t allow the cigar to have the launch we were all expecting for. Luckily we still managed to receive some samples for us to enjoy.
As most of the pre-release it is important to note that the cigars are coming straight from the factory and didn’t have enough time for the leaves to blend between each other. However this is a Gran Reserva therefore the leaves have been aged for 5 years before being rolled. All leaves are coming from the 2011 crop.
Appearance : 5 out of 5 stars
As expected the wrapper leaf is sublime. As all the Gran Reservas cigars the quality of the wrapper is perfect. Soft, oily and claro, everything I love. The Sir Winston Gran Reserva is a true beauty to look at. Its double black and gold band Gran Reserva highlights the cigar brilliantly.
Construction : 2 out of 5 stars
From a Gran Reserva cigar you expect at least a perfectly rolled Habanos. As mentioned by Habanos S.A., only the best rollers from the top factories have been involved in the construction of the Sir Winston GR. When feeling the cigar I understood the construction was really poor… They probably forgot half of the leaves. Looking at the foot you see important gaps and pressing the stick you can almost touch your two fingers. This was not a good start to the tasting.
Flavor : 2.5 out of 5 stars
As I said previously we need to understand that this is a pre-release. Some pre-releases weren’t great and the cigar turned out to be very good few years later. However I strongly believe that for such a prestigious cigar this should not happen and even the pre-release should be at the consistency of the future development of the cigar.
When lighting the stick, as it was under-filled the draw was extremely soft (too easy?), it took me 40 minutes to smoke a Julieta No. 2 when it normally takes me 45-50 mins for a robusto.
The first few puffs were extremely unbalanced and bitter, full of ammonia. Many of us would say “it is young”, but as the leaves are extra aged they should not develop that much bitterness.
Hopefully the second third would soften the blend and bring some balance in flavors but on the opposite the strength kept on increasing, with a strong after taste of burnt feeling. Few notes of fresh grass and earthiness were appreciated but not what I was expecting from a H. Upmann. The cigar developed some hints of exotic spiciness such as cinnamon and nutmeg but difficult to enjoy due to the strength and the over draw.
The last third finally improved slightly with more resistance and more balance between the flavors and the acidity.
Value : 2 out of 5 stars
Many of you may tell me that I am rating the cigar a bit hard as it is a pre-release. But looking at the Magnum 54 pre-release last year or the Cohiba Majestuosos that was exceptional I am highly disappointed with the quality of what should be the finest Habanos released this year.
Overall Rating : 2.5 out of 5 stars
After giving us a taste of the Wide Churchill Gran Reserva and the Epicure No. 2 Reserva that we are still waiting for on the market, Habanos S.A presented us the Sir Winston Gran Reserva. We all understand the actual challenge Cuba is experiencing when it comes to crops and production. However I would rather have a year without a very special release but when it is announced it comes out ready to be enjoyed.
H. Upmann Sir Winston Gran Reserva (Pre-Release)
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