Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In which we invest in The Banker

During one of the many Italian feasts this summer that must surely annoy the residents of Boston's Hanover and surrounding streets, Valentino traded one of his beloved Leaf by Oscar cigars (Hi Jim! Hi Oscar!) for a Banker by H. Upmann with the fab guys from Rolling Stogies.

You already know our love for the Leaf (and of the leaf, obviously, but that's a different thing) and Valentino has been spreading the word like it's his job. (Which it isn't. He just loves them. Me too, of course--otherwise I totally wouldn't write about them. I'd be all, "What? No. Never heard of them." But we all know that's not the case.*)

Anyway, that night, he received and lit up this:
Ooooh. That looks like a million bucks!
Then, not too long ago, we had the opportunity to meet up with Tom Borio (Hi Tom!) from Altadis. (Just so you know, Altadis is the company that owns a boatload of brands, including H. Upmann, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and many more!) The Banker was coming to Habanos** and we were super excited, since we already knew much love existed between Valentino and his new discovery.***. He and Tom chatted for ages about all things cigar, and then Valentino suggestively sold (but not sold suggestively because that's something else entirely) them to all our pals.
Here's the thing about Valentino: He's very (very very very) persuasive. To quote my mom, "He could charm a hungry dog off a meat wagon." But he's also incredibly trustworthy and straightforward, so if he says, "You have to try this cigar," chances are, you're going to like it. And he really did like The Banker.
The cigar is composed of a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from the Jalapa region, and aged Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.
Keep in mind, when we first encountered the classiness that is The Banker, we were surrounded by all the smells (pleasant and otherwise) that are part of a massive festival in the middle of Boston, so I took Valentino's word that the cigar achieved purchase-level status.
Once we were in the confines of the cigar bar and I could fully enjoy the Currency size (48 x 5.5--also available are Arbitrage at 56 x 7 and Annuity at 52 x 6).
As I jumped into the wake of his first couple of exhales, I liked the combination of coffeeness (It's a word now. Quiet, you.) and chocolateyness (Shut. Up.) with a hint of pepper. I guess that would make it mocha (with pepper, ew), but each flavor alternated, weaving in and out of each's presence rather than blending together to make something completely new. Think of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup--You can taste both the PB and C separately, which is fab. So too The Banker.
Then he wandered around, chatting, charming dogs off meat wagons, whatever. When he returned, the cigar was very different. The coffee and chocolate were still there, as was the pepperiness, but all had settled into the background, with an earthiness, not the dirty-kind of earthiness (you know what I mean), moving up to the front. The original creaminess that accompanied the first moments had split for parts unknown, its place taken over by rich tobacco.
"I was thinking I should buy a box," he said.
"You should totally buy a box," said the enabler, er, me.
We decided it would serve as an everyday, hanging around kind of smoke, the answer to "What should I have?" as he stands in front of the humidor, its door wide open and lights on, not unlike standing in front of a full refrigerator, wondering if there's anything to eat.
As you have probably figured out by now, I love a good (or great) backstory. Here's The Banker's story, according to the Montecristo Social Club website: "German bankers Carl and Herman Upmann traveled to Cuba to craft an exceptionally unique cigar in 1844. They locked it in the vaults and gave it as a special gift to their most important clients." We all know that means richest, right? Apparently, the bank burned down in 1922, and after all this time, the folks at H. Upmann are finally able to bring back, not quite the original, but something very close, from what I understand. I mean, I read it on the internets, so it must be true, right?


*Someone has obviously had way too much caffeine today. 

**Actually, The Banker comes to Habanos frequently and we love him! Hi Brian! :)

***The love was, and remains, one-sided, obviously. 

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