Cask strength

H. Upmann Magnum 56 Edición Limitada 2015

Although largely unknown even by many passionados, the H. Upmann brand was established by the Hupmann brothers in 1844, having emigrated from Europe. It is believed that they dropped the initial ‘H’, since it has no pronunciation value in Spanish. Instead, the ‘H’ signifies either “Hermanos”, “brothers” in Spanish; or Hermann, the name of one of the founding brothers.

The fifth such habano to have the Magnum appellation, the Magnum 56 and first edición limitada of 2015 finally hit the shelves during the UK ‘summer’. Having been given a wholly new vitola de galera, the 56 cepo certainly had many waiting with great anticipation as to how the billows of expectantly flavourful smoke would taste, particularly with an inch longer than that of a traditional robusto to prolong the experience.

With this in mind, only a digestif with stamina and body would be a suitable pairing. Kavalan is not necessarily a name which immediately springs to mind when considering whiskey, nor is the country of Taiwan as a producer of the wondrous nectar. However, in only ten years Kavalan as a single malt distillery has won over 100 international awards for quality, including the coveted World Whisky Award for World’s Best Single Malt whisky bestowed upon the Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Single Cask Strength in January 2015. Thereafter, the ex-port cask from their flagship single cask Solist range became incredibly scarce. Nonetheless, having tasted it, as well as the ex-Sherry and the Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength a few weeks earlier, I was sure the latter would be more than a match to the newly released gordito habano at 57.8% strength.

Having inspected most of a box to find the habano with the right springy feel, free of blemishes and a beautiful maduro capa with a light sheen, elation took over having found the perfect example to taste. The compact to the touch Magnum 56 certainly feels impressive and makes its Magnum 50 kin positively diminutive in width. I was sure the pre-light draw would have a great deal of intermingling notes and I was not disappointed. Light mushroom earthiness, faintly moist hay and the softest of malty notes with a touch of cocoa delighted the palate.

After careful toasting of the considerable boquilla of the 56 ring gauge, mounds of billowing, tasty, almost chewy smoke engulfed the taste buds. To commence, it was very easy on both the palate and retrohale as the first few puffs featured the requisite light earthy notes of an H. Upmann. Nonetheless, the maduro wrapper immediately provided a satisfying touch of sweetness on the finish to the savoury earthiness.

The ease of the draw and the smooth and well-balanced flavours are as equal a delight as the Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask Taiwanese whiskey. The vanilla and woodiness of the ex-Bourbon cask provides a welcome refreshment to the palate but more importantly, compliments the cigar well. There is no tension, but a synergy with each flavour of the distinctive habano and whiskey having their equal play on the palate. The fact that it is 57.8% cask strength is astonishing considering how smooth the finish is on the palate.

After the first inch, cocoa notes become more pronounced on the retrohale and the more savoury notes begin to dominate. The mushroom qualities and earthiness come to the fore, leaving a long bitter chocolate and dark roast coffee bean finish. Into the second-third, the youth is exposed with a thin additional bitterness to the earthy, honeyed vegetal flavours the brand is known for. Additional spice elements appear, including a black pepper spice which is introduced on the retrohale.

Leathery notes come through in the final-third, along with toasted tobacco in addition to the earthiness. As the build-up of flavours come together with increasing richness, the precipitate is much stronger than the first half of the cigar. The spice intensifies, with a more piquant white pepper cutting on retrohale. At this stage, it is all the more important that the Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask whiskey is fully capable of providing palate refreshment for this cigar whose balance should improve with a few years of careful ageing.

The leather-style individual case for the bottle (which is numbered 60 out of a mere 201), was almost as impressive as the Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Cask single cask whiskey itself. For the £110 price point, Scotch producers may have a lot to learn in giving extra value to the consumer rather than having to pay double or more for a discreet touch of luxury to the packaging of your prized treasure. The only fault I would point out would be the gratuitous golden ribbon which in my view, does nothing for the aesthetics or accentuation of the quality of the whiskey. Nevertheless, it is a handsome and delectable lot and the next Solist expressions expected to be finished in ex-Manzanilla and Pedro Ximénez casks leave the taste buds in great anticipation of further delectation.

Tasting notes and details:

H. Upmann Magnum 56 Edición Limitada 2015

Factory NameMagnum 56

Size56 x 5.9”  (22.23 x 150)mm

Box code and dateOPG  MAY15

Wrapper – beautifully maduro, light sheen. No overtly protruding veins.

Draw – very good – compact but satisfying. Light mushroom earthiness & moist hay. Faint malty notes with a touch of cocoa.

First third – as expected, thick earthy smoke, cocoa notes as well as sweetness of the maduro capa on the finish.

Second third – a thin veil of bitterness exposed due to the youth and black pepper notes appear on the retrohale.

Last third – deeper, leathery notes and toasted tobacco feature alongside sharper, white pepper when retrohaling.

PairingKavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask (57.8%). This single cask, single malt from a first-fill ex-Bourbon cask initially offers clean and fresh tropical notes on the nose. Once the tulip glass has been warmed whilst gently grasped, the wonders of vanilla and gentle spices reach out. The palate is enveloped with balanced vanilla, honey and oak spices. Each sip compounds the great complexity and smoothness of the long finish. Certainly will not disappoint!

H. Upmann Magnum 56 Edición Limitada 2015 H. Upmann Magnum 56 and Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask 001b H. Upmann Magnum 56 and Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask 002 H. Upmann Magnum 56 and Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask 003 H. Upmann Magnum 56 and Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask 004 H. Upmann Magnum 56 and Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask 005 Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask and case Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask in case

© 2015 - 2016, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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Cohiba Robusto Supremos Edición Limitada 2014

Luxury cigars and Cohiba are as synonymous as luxury cars and Rolls Royce in the minds of most cigar smokers, not just connoisseurs. As a brand, Cohiba understandably has its detractors for its premium price, but when you are enveloped in the voluminous smoke with complexity, balance and richness of flavours of one, you will thereafter understand why.

The Cohiba Robusto Supremos Edición Limitada 2014 is undoubtedly the most anticipated cigar of 2014, and having had the pleasure of sampling one, I can state the quality lives up to the hype. With a ring gauge of 58 (in 64ths of an inch), it is the thickest cigar ever made by the Cuban masters of totally handmade cigars and for good reason.

The robusto (at a comparatively meagre 50 ring gauge), has been a moderately recent vitola (length, thickness and shape) preference in the world of cigars, with its widespread commercial introduction and zenith in the 1980s and 1990s respectively. The added girth not only improves the draw of a cigar, but after a 52 gauge, allows far more premium long-filler tobacco to be expertly placed by the torcedor for the smoker to savour. The master blenders thus need to take extra care and attention with the blend of tobaccos to make sure the balance sits right with the added complexity.

Having sampled the Robusto Supremos with cask strength Blue Label (The Casks Edition travel retail exclusive) whisky, it was a perfect marriage of sweetness of the maduro wrapper, dark cocoa bean and spice to the succulent and taste bud tantalising Blue Label with its hint of peat more prevalent with the higher alcohol by volume of 55.8%. The hour and ten minutes of smoking pleasure hardly required any attention of relighting or rectifying any erratic burning of the flawless gloriously oily wrapper. In conclusion, this cigar is entirely befitting of not only its Cohiba cigar band, but also its special designation as an Edición Limitada. It will only improve with time and will surely one day be considered one of the chef-d’oeuvre of all Habanos.

Tasting notes and details:

Cohiba Robusto Supremos Edición Limitada 2014

Factory NameMagnificos (totally new vitola)

Size58 x 5.0”  (23.02 x 127)mm

Box code and datePMS  SEP14

Wrapper – beautiful maduro (as all Edición Limitadas have been since 2007) glistening and oily.

Draw – perfect, as it should be for 58 ring gauge.

First third – first few puffs are full of flavour. Cocoa and some spice but mellowing out.

Second third – very easy to draw thus bellows of creamy smoke. Some white pepper experienced on the long finish. Darker cocoa is present on the retrohale.

Last third – richer but balance incredibly still held for such a young cigar. Spicier elements are more prevalent and even with just an inch left, this great cigar is still smoking well. Solely for fear of burning my fingers must I conclude my degustation of a supremely delicious robusto befitting the appellation.

PairingJohnnie Walker Blue Label – The Casks Edition (travel retail exclusive) Scotch whisky – 55.8%. Great interaction between the two. Highly recommended pairing.

CRS2014-01 CRS2014-02 CRS2014-04 CRS2014-05 CRS2014-06 CRS2014-07 CRS2014-08 CRS2014-09 CRS2014-10 CRS2014-11 CRS2014-12 CRS2014-13 CRS2014-14 CRS2014-15 CRS2014-16

© 2015, Harmic Davidkhanian. All rights reserved.

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