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23/02/2011

Born in 1844, the H. Upmann brand always puts on its bib and tucker as a continuation of a highly prestigious cigar-making tradition. The brainchild of a German banker whose bank went belly up, its creation and development bear out the significant and longstanding race-mixing that marks everything in Cuba.

Culture, traditions, families, even some habanos are in Cuba the upshots of long and nonstop mixtures. Spaniards and Africans were the primary underpinnings of the Cuban nationality, yet that fundamental tree grew out branches as a result of successive migrations of Chinese, French, Haitian, Jews from all over Europe, British, German, Dominican, Polish and even Japanese people.

And it’s precisely that Teutonic origin what churned out one of the flagship brands of Cuban cigars. It’s all owed to the hard work and perseverance of its founders, two German brothers who decided to settle down in balmy Havana in the first half of the 19th century.

Origins and Golden Road

Word has it that it was the taste for habanos what actually counted the most in Herman Upmann’s decision to settle down in the Cuban capital back in 1840. He founded a bank of commerce and a habano factory in 1844. As time rolled on, he clung solely to the second business and that company has lived out till this day with its emblematic products, penciled in as an ineludible benchmark in the realm of the most refined habanos, and featuring medium-mild taste.

Vitolas like Sir Winston, Upmann No. 2 and the Magnum line have panned out to be milestones of good taste and nonstop pampering, a token of Cuban cigar makers’ tradition and painstaking efforts. The countless gold medals that deck out their boxes, won mainly in different international tradeshows through the 19th century, speak volumes of its achievements.

By 1845 –following its foundation the previous year- the brand had strengthened and enhanced its output, moving from its initial home to a new workshop called Flor del Pacifico (Pacific Flower), in a partnership with his fellow countryman Enrique Claufsen. In 1891, H. Upmann left its former headquarters on 75 San Miguel Street and set up shop in a building on Carlos III Avenue that could sit up to 200 employees and generate much larger throughputs.

In the early 20th century, the property was turned over to British company Frankau S.A. in 1922, which in turn built a partnership made up of Spain’s Jose Salaun and Francisco Fernandez, and Germany’s Paolo Meller. After taking quite a few twists and turns, and as the 100th anniversary was drawing near in 1944, the brand moved its plant to 407 Amistad Street.

In 2003, H. Upmann cigar factory moved to a four-story building on 23rd Avenue and 14th Street in the Havana neighborhood of El Vedado. The edifice is roomy and quite suitable for its demanding functions, with a façade that runs along an entire block.

In this special place that still nestles a nearly 170-year-old tradition, a brand reinvents itself as if it were predestined to eternity, a brand that stands out for its signature soft-to-mild strength and the aromatic taste of its vitolas, made with leaves out of the celebrated plantations of Vegas de Vuelta in Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s westernmost province and the land of the world’s finest black tobacco –the result of exceptional soils, local microclimate and the expertise of the planters.

For All Generations and Moments

As one of the novelties scheduled for the 13th Habano Festival, H. Upmann is unveiling its new Half Corona vitola (ring gage 44, 90mm long), highly recommended for those willing to puff on a habano in any circumstance.

Armed with the brand’s classic features of aromatic and balanced taste, with medium-mild strength, the H. Upmann Half Corona is a short format in sync with the current conditions faced by habano lovers and aficionados. It’s designed for people who count only on brief periods of time and just a handful of places for smoking, but unwavering when it comes to enjoying in full swing the sensations that a great habano can actually offer to any smoker, either a seasoned aficionado or a rookie.

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