H. Upmann Connoisseur A | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Size: 5.5 x 52
Strength: Medium
Price: $11.12 (From PuroExpress.com – Cheapest deal I could find)

Today we take a look at the Cuban H.Upmann Connoisseur A.
Thanks to Zack Dinning for the stick.
The cigar comes from a box code dated: 2014.
You need to shop around. Prices are all over the place with PuroExpress being the cheapest. I checked Cigars of Habanos and they want $15.
Forbes Magazine named the H. Upmann Connoisseur A one of the 6 best cigars made in Cuba.

From Cigar Aficionado (October, 2013):
“If you were at last month’s Inter-tabac Fair in Dortmund, Germany, you may have had the opportunity to smoke the Cuban H. Upmann Connossieur A. It’s a new cigar within H. Upmann’s Connossieur Linea brand that will be shipping to cigar shops across the world in the next few weeks.

“Measuring 5 1/2 inches by 52 ring, the Connossieur A is the same size as the Cohiba Maduro Genios (also classified as Genios in Cuban cigar factories) and is only the second cigar to occupy a place in H. Upmann’s Connossieur Linea line—the Connossieur No. 1 being the only other vitola.

“To better distinguish the Connossieur A from the core H. Upmann line, Habanos S.A., the brand’s owner and distributor, has furnished the cigar with a new, eye-catching band. Although the band still incorporates H. Upmann’s classic red-and-gold laurel design, it’s been extended to include the words “Connossieur A” on a broad, gold background below the main logo.

“Habanos S.A. told Cigar Aficionado that the H. Upmann Connossieur A is not replacing the H. Upmann Connossieur No. 1 (5 inches by 48 ring), but simply joining it, and they confirmed that the No. 1 remains in full production. When asked about the possibility of more Connossieur Linea line extensions in the future, Habanos responded that it’s too early to tell and nothing has been decided.

“The company did, however, say that the new cigar is “aimed exclusively at Habanos specialists and La Casa del Habano franchise stores.”
“The H. Upmann Connossieur A cigars come packaged in slide-lid boxes of 25.”

A butterscotch wrapper smooth as glass. Like most Cubans, it feels light. The wrapper doesn’t look so hot with a lackadaisical approach to its appearance…full of veins and exposed seams. The triple cap is pretty slick. I see some small cracks in this 4 year old stick. Fingers crossed it doesn’t disassemble on me halfway through. The cold here in Wisconsin is doing a number on my cigars. Very few make it out alive due to as soon as they leave the comfort of my humidor, the cold air gets a death grip on fragile wrappers.

From the shaft, I can smell milk chocolate, butter, cream, caramel, cedar, peanut butter, and a hint of spiciness.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell barnyard, cedar, peanut butter, cream, cocoa, and black pepper.
The cold draw presents flavors of cream, black pepper, peanuts, butter, and cedar.

The stick is poorly made as prior to sniffing it after I clipped the cap I found it to be completely plugged from top to bottom. Out came my PerfecDraw cigar poker and I very carefully reamed the shit out of this petrified tree. A few swipes and you can fill the length of the tunnel with salamander balls. Adds a nice fishy taste to the blend.

We start out with mild flavors of cream, butter, pepper, and cedar.

Cracks are forming over the entire cigar. A fragile wrapper with 4 years of humidor time. My photos will show a Frankensteinian monster appearance where the PerfecRepair glue is holding the whole mess together. I’m going to finish this review if all I have to smoke is the cigar band.

Yeah, I hawk the glue and poker that Dr. Rod invented. This is because there is nothing on the market that compares to either in design and function. If I hadn’t the poker on hand, I never would have been able to review this cigar. It was just too plugged up. And the glue came to the rescue to stop the eventual cracking of the wrapper.

I allow the glue to dry for a couple minutes and things seem to be functioning at nominal output.
A nice addition of salted caramel joins up with the bearded lady and the earth, wind, and leather.

At an inch in, the H.Upmann Connoisseur A isn’t exactly overwhelming me. By now, I’d expect a lemon meringue pie in the face to alert me to the notion that I’m smoking a highly lauded Cuban blend. But no. It’s lying there like a blonde with her panties around her ankles to keep them warm.
A small touch of lemon citrus livens things up a bit as some thick creaminess hits my palate with total disregard for my lactose issues.

Smoke time is 30 minutes.
The first third was a complete flop.

I sense the second third wants redemption. I can taste, and smell, a sweet floral perfumey flavor that is delightful. Flavors line up in order of height and areola size. Creaminess has been a constant; as well as the mild cocoa, butter, cedar, peanut butter, vanilla, and a slight nuttiness.
Strength was an anemic mild throughout the first third nearly making the blend invisible. Now we are seeing some movement that would make your lower bowel proud.

Zero complexity at first and now it grows from a seedling to a full blown super hero: Cigar Kong.
With half the cigar smoked, it steps up. It is now a real show off. This is how I wanted the H.Upmann Connoisseur A to begin; not wait til the halfway point.

Still, the blend now shines with all of its blender’s intent on display. Super complex. Strength is a solid medium. Flavors are all over the place assaulting my sensitive and fragile being with wonderful flavors that it seems only some Cuban blends bring to the table.

I should add that the construction found its mean average at the start and no more wrapper issues ensued. The draw is good. And so am I.

What a delicious cigar. Although, I do feel cheated waiting 45 minutes for wonderful to kick in.
There isn’t a lick of savory in this blend. It hovers around the sweet side of things. Graham crackers with some sort of light berry element gives the H.Upmann Connoisseur A an unusual character not expected.

We are headed to hunky dory land.

Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.
The cigar is selling it like the $20 hooker you used to hang with.
Intense. Complexity is off the charts. Transitions are middle of the road. The finish just might be the best part.

I have no idea why the first third was a total waste. I think I will blame Zack for this. I don’t have a good reason but someone has to be thrown underneath the bus. That’s OK Zack…I’m sending you 4 of my baby teeth. You can put them in Lucite and make a pen and pencil set.

This is the bona fide sweet spot. There is nothing like a superb Cuban. Everyone has their own definition of the Cuban Twang and if ever a cigar had a twang, it’s gotta be the H.Upmann Connoisseur A. It drips like yellow matter custard from a dead dog’s eyes.

We bought a fancy shmancy air purifier. Had to. Now that Charlotte and I are older than dirt, we live in an apartment now. I’m too fucking old to putter around the house and garden. So I smoke cigars in my little cave. That purifier removes every iota of smoke residue from the room 10 minutes after I finish a cigar. Wonderful invention.

And then savory marches through Paris. A smoky meatiness prevails over the sweet characteristics providing a better balance. Nuance and subtlety really kick up some dust now. The blend is approaching medium/full strength. I thought I was doomed in the first third where the cigar was so bland and mild that I thought I might have a fake Cuban. I’m reversing those worries. This is one mighty fine fucking cigar.

I saw prices all over the place…$11-$18 a pop. Be careful. As I said earlier, PuroExpress has the best deal.

Jethro Tull is playing. I was such a huge fan in the 70’s. And it reminds me of the time Ian Anderson chased his band mates out of Curved Air’s dressing room because they were smoking hash with us and Anderson really disapproved of drug use. Seen him lately? Maybe he should have used drugs because he couldn’t look worse. Keith Richards looks better than Ian.

Where was I? Loving this cigar, that’s where.
But how do I rate a cigar that was a letdown to start. But tripled down in the second half? Add two scores and divide by half I guess. I use the special Katman rating system where I used advanced geometry and trigonometry to determine the value system…which is basically pulling the rating out of my ass.

Maybe 4 years is not enough humidor time. Maybe it’s too much. Impossible to know with Cubans. Everyone has an opinion.

Thankfully, it’s not an expensive cigar by today’s boutique brand status.
I definitely recommend the H.Upmann Connoisseur A despite my early disappointment. With only one cigar to smoke, it is a total crap shoot. Reviewers need at least 3 sticks to get a feel for the eventual review outcome.
It’s a lovely 23 degrees and the windows are wide open. I’m keeping my nut sack warm because Sammy the cat has them in his mouth while he sits quietly waiting for me to finish the review…good kitty.


Insanity comes in different forms:
Doesn’t matter the decade or century, show biz will never change. This asshole with suspect credentials contacted me offering me a position of regular guest on a new radio show he was planning about cigars and music and movies. He told me that by January things would be in full motion. He lied. And I have no idea why scum bags like him feel the need to fuck with people’s heads…because they can? Here is part of a conversation I had with him on linkedin….

From Eric Daniels Mayhall: Cinematographer, director and director of photography in Gilbert, Arizona.

AKA: Eric E Mayhall, Eric Danels Mayhall, Eric D Mayhall, Eric Corral Mayhall, Eric D. Maxhall, Eric D. Mayh.

Sept 26, 2017:
“Phil, My agent is finalizing the deal when I get specifics I will reach out to you, but would love to have your stories and insight as a regular guest. Will have a regular rotation of musical guests all like yourself pro players and big names. Thanks pal the minute I hear I will email you specifics. Nothing will air til mid January 2018.”

Nov 20:
“Hey buddy…how’s the radio show looking?

Nov 20:
“Still in planning phase, working on Russel Crowe film for another three weeks. Happy Thanksgiving my friend!”

March 27 (Time to speak up):
“My friends told me it was all bullshit. I defended you. Now I look like a real asshole for believing you. It’s been a while since I was in the music business and I forgot about the level of misdirection and lies that fill that industry to the brim. Phil”

March 27:
“Phil, I have no idea what you are talking about! We have communicated only once and there was nothing in that message that you would have to defend! I am not in the music Business besides and never said that I was at any time. I took pictures and worked on video’s but that was for two magazines. I am sorry you feel disappointed and that you feel I lied to you as I assure you I didn’t but I cant help what you feel and the way you approached me about it lacks tack and dignity. Take a look in the mirror, You are the disappointment.”

I responded immediately but Mayhall had already blocked me so he never got to read my response to his insane delusional nut job denial.

From web site Stage 32…Mayhall’s description of himself…if you can make any sense of this bizarre manifesto (Clearly, English is his second language), you are better men than I:

“As a filmmaker, every day is a blank canvas to which we create or recreate what we see in our minds and feel in our hearts and souls.Everyone is born with creativity, we see it in infants and children as there unsoiled minds and souls speak, and express through multiple mediums their view of there world. We as adult filmmakers with our heart,minds and souls hardened through the experiences of day to day living,we explore our souls and hearts but come away lacking,but it is our minds were vision enhanced and shaped by stress, fear, anger,love, and joy that allows our freedom of creation to find it’s voice in our chosen medium and create our life’s true masterpiece.”

This is also from the Stage 32 web site in 2015:
“Jennifer (Rudolph) I am a DP and am starting to direct , I was wondering in your opinion would it help me to maybe take an acting class or get a small part in something so that I may understand how to get the performance I want out of my actors ? What are your thoughts and suggestions ? I am in Arizona and am working in LA often. Please help!”

You can find him on Linkedin.com: Eric Daniels Mayhall

And now for something completely different:
I was in a band called The Attitude. It was the early 80’s. And we were really good. We only played our original material…except for our kick ass version of “Hound Dog.”

We had decided to record our first album in a high falutin’ recording studio: Sunset Gower in Hollywood. $250 an hour in 1981.
Rick Tunstall, our band leader, composer, singer, and guitarist had managed to get hold of world famous, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine.

I had worshiped this man since I was 16.
I’d put on all my favorite records and lay in my bed reading the liner notes on all of those albums. He was part of a rhythm team that played on all the Simon & Garfunkel albums, all of the Mamas & Papas albums, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, John Denver, the Ronettes, the Carpenters, the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, the Partridge Family, and Steely Dan, Frank Sinatra, The Byrds, The Supremes, The Association, Neil Diamond, Cher, Barbra Streisand, J.J. Cale, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., The Everly Brothers, John Lennon, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Louis Prima, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Ike and Tina Turner, and lastly: Sonny & Cher….And just about everyone else in the music business. He is a brilliant drummer. If you look at a photo of Hal’s drum kit, it is the exact same as Ringo’s kit. Ringo copied Hal’s setup…and in fact, Hal played on quite a few Beatles songs.

Rick and I were already at the studio. The cartage company had arrived with Hal’s drum set. We were charged $250 for them to move Hal’s drums and set them up how he liked it. They worked like clockwork to assemble it properly….and then…The Man showed up.

I had been in contact with all of my rock n roll heroes while I played in the English band, Curved Air in the mid 70’s so I knew how to keep my cool…but with Hal, it was difficult.

The man was not very tall but had a slim build. He is Jewish so I let him know I was, as well….what was I thinking? “Ooh, I’m a Jew too!” Oh brother. I’m such a schmuck.
We kibitzed for a while and we explained the tunes we would be recording.

Hal sat at his kit fine tuning the kit. He reached into his stick bag, hanging from the snare, and pulled out some sheet music. He motioned me over and showed it to me.
It was the drummer’s sheet music written by hand. By Paul Simon’s hand. It was “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I was in shock. Hal let me hold it. I stared at it like it was the Holy Grail.

We rehearsed the first song one time and Hal had it. Just before we hit the “Record” button, Hal said to me, “Phil, you’re a pretty good bassist. Have you done session work?”
I gurgled something that basically meant nothing significant.
“I can get you some work if you want?”
I think that meant, “Would I? Hell, yes!”

We spent a month recording an album’s worth of material. And Hal was there for about 2 weeks to do the rhythm tracks.

Hal and I would sit in the booth while things were fiddled with by the engineer between tracks. He told me stories like he was Uncle Remus. He could drop names like it meant nothing to him at all. He told me inside stories that had me in rapture. Meanwhile, my partner Rick, took me into the lounge and proceeded to scream at me…”Do you know that the 15 minute story Hal told you cost us $85?”
I bowed my head in shame but I didn’t care.

And Hal was true to his word getting me big session work in L.A. He later went on to become my mentor doing all sorts of things for me at my own recording studio in Long Beach. We became good friends. He took scale money from me for recordings that made me a big shot in my customer’s eyes. At the time, there were only two recording studios in Long Beach…a town with around 400,000 residents. The other studio was inconsequential.

Hal and me at my recording studio in Long Beach, CA; Drummer and high school buddy Stephen Hodges loaned us his kit and is setting it up for Hal:

We became big shots in the musical community for having Hal Blaine on call.
It was the most wonderful time. Maybe I shall tell some of his stories in another review.

I have quite a few copies of his own hand written charts from my sessions. But they are carefully stored away. I found this pair of charts he wrote for a big project at my studio that was paid for by The Teague Family. For those older than dirt like me, Will Teague was one of the original members of the 1960’s folk group, The New Christy Minstrels.

Will decided to record 20 songs. And not using a rhythm section during the recordings. What a schmuck. I told him so. I told him that the timing was all over the place. So I called Hal and he agreed to come in and do the session.

He listened to the songs and shook his head. He asked why not even a friggin time keeping device was used? I thought he was going to split but I calmed him down from his high level of being exposed to unprofessionalism.
He listened a second time taking notes and writing charts.

He managed to pull all the songs together so they sounded like they were played in correct time. A real miracle and testament to the man’s brilliance on percussion.

As I was producing, I couldn’t play bass at the same time. So I came in after the studio closed, late, and spent my nights laying down bass lines all by myself in the studio. It was a real pain in the ass sitting in the booth with my bass…going direct…and operating the equipment at the same time.

Paul McCartney did the same thing starting with “Revolver.” It gave him the freedom to be more melodic.
I managed to get some nice lines down. And they paid me well.

Every 10 years, I pull out the cassette of the final mix and listen to the songs. I remember thinking how good the rhythm section sounded. I was proud as a peacock.

I asked Hal if he wanted a copy? I had wanted him to hear my bass playing against his miraculous mish mosh of trying to fix the songs.
He responded quickly to my offer:
“No. I don’t want to listen to that music ever again. Sorry Phil.”


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2 replies

  1. Great review as always brother!

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