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Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Jalapa Valley Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Origin: Tabacalera de Garcia, La Romana, D.R.
H. Upmann’s Dominican-made “The Banker” cigar first hit our shelves way back in the summer of 2014. A tribute to a unique Cuban cigar of the same name that was created by original brand founder Herman Upmann for his best friends and customers over 170 years ago, the modern day Banker uses Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos in an attempt to recreate the rich taste of the original.
Initially released in three vitolas (Currency 48 x 5 ½″, Arbitrage 56 x 7″, & Annuity 52 x 6″), a fourth, belicoso-shaped vitola joined the Banker portfolio the following year in 2015 – the subject of today’s review, the belicoso-shaped 6×52 Basis Point #2.
Pre-light draws piqued my interest with an appetizing rich woodiness and marzipan-like sweetness. I had smoked The Banker in different sizes before, but didn’t remember it tasting anything like the promise of this cold draw. My interest in the cigar increased significantly as I hurried to get it lit and started.
I immediately recognized the first third of this cigar as a beautiful thing. It opened up with some dense, delicious cedar backed by powdery cocoa notes and tied up in a nice white pepper on the finish. This starting profile was shockingly great, and it resonated on my palate with all the exuberance of the opening chords of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town.”
The spicy finish became more and more prominent in this portion before a wave of breadiness kicked in to smooth things out a bit. As I burned into the 2nd third some subtle almond notes appeared, along with just a hint of the sweetness I had detected on the pre-light. The finish was finally done teasing me, and was now expressed as a full blown, big and zesty black pepper. I like that. A tasty new molasses note emerged and this thing was firing on all cylinders. Eventually the richness here got to be a little over the top and flavors started to muddle so I found it necessary to do a quick purge.
– A brief aside about “purging” cigars –
While smoking a cigar, some of the tobacco’s essential oils that provide its flavor will inevitably build up in the remaining filler leaves creating a bitter or muddled taste.
To remedy this, a careful Purge should do the trick. To purge your cigar and expel any unwanted oils, first gently knock off any ash you’ve accumulated. Then, bring the cigar to your mouth as if taking a normal puff, but instead blow slowly outward through the cigar, rotating the cigar as you do so. You’ll see the end of your cigar turn to an orange glow as it burns off any leftover oils that are funking up the taste.
Okay, now where was I? Okay, yes, the final third. In the dramatic conclusion of the Basis Point, creamy, clean flavors of oak, nougat, and leather spilled over the palate with awesome balance. The ever-present spice notes, while now much tamer, were still readily apparent when exhaling through the nose. As one last tasty surprise, a bit of warm, fruity sweetness took this smoke out on a high note.
How much difference can a slight taper make? If we’re using my experience with the Basis Point as the case in point, the answer is “ a lot.” In addition to its excellent burn and draw performance, this belicoso version of the Banker delivered a drastically richer and more diverse flavor profile than the original sizes I had sampled a few years back. The deeper concentration of flavor that a well-crafted belicoso is intended to deliver has never been more apparent to me than it was while smoking this cigar. While not my first Banker, the Basis Point #2 was certainly my most memorable, and based on today’s smoke, probably won’t be my last. This was really, really good, people. “♫ Spread the word around….”