The good news is, Altadis has been on something of a roll lately, cranking out their usual everyman sticks while managing to create more distinctive brands like Romeo by Romeo y Julieta that appeal to the more dedicated cigar smoker.
The Banker certainly looks attractive, with a medium oily, Colorado-hued Ecuadorian Habano wrapper hugging a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler leafs. There are only three sizes: the obnoxiously large Arbitrage, at 7x56; a robusto for people with normal size heads called the Currency, at 5.5x48; and the subject of this review, the toro-sized Annuity at 6x52.
The green band makes for an appealing contrast to the moderately dark wrapper. However, peeling off the admittedly nice looking paper overlay was tricky since we didn't want to risk disturbing the band, which seemed to be clinging to the wrapper leaf. We later found out it was sticking to a second, identical band that was not stuck to the wrapper. The cigar itself is well-rolled in typical Altadis fashion, with a sort of sloppy but well-intentioned attempt at a triple cap.
And it's a good one. There's a substantial blast of spice and pepper upon lighting but it quickly settles down to a simple but pleasant flavor profile. The smoke is smoothly textured, with a light leather and wood character upfront, fresh tobacco, and a tinge of spice. There are occasional hints of seeds or husks on the finish, but otherwise, aside from intensifying in body as it progresses, the Banker is a reasonably rich, medium-bodied smoke that helps bide the time well.
With just a bit more complexity, and a little more oomph, this could be a real standout cigar. We had a tough time pegging it on our ratings system. It's better than "good," on the basis of it being more distinctive than it needed to be.
You can smoke this now and enjoy it, but we have a suspicion that six months or so of aging at as low a humidity as you can stomach might yield a much improved experience. Hmmm...a conglomerate cigar with potential? Okay, we're going with a rating of "very good" for the H. Upmann Banker—a cigar we may just need to revisit later this year.
F: Dominican, Nicaragua
A smooth and pleasant yet distinctive cigar with woody and lightly leathery flavors and a little spice to keep things lively. Appealing in presentation.