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Review of H. Upmann Corona Major Cigar

JFK's Favorite Cigar

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Cuban H Upmann Petit Upmann Cigars

Here is the full story behind President John F. Kennedy's love for Cuban Petit Upmanns and the signing of the Cuban Trade Embargo, according to an email message received from Dick DiMeola in response to our review of the H Upmann Corona Major cigar:

"I retired as COO of Consolidated Cigar Corp., predecessor to Altadis USA, in 1998, having been in the cigar business since 1956 (I still dabble in it). In my early years, I worked for Faber, Coe & Gregg, Inc., the country's premier importer and distributor of Cuban cigars, among others.

What you say about JFK's love of H. Upmann is true, and it is also true that an aide purchased 1200 H. Upmanns for Kennedy just prior to his signing the Cuban Embargo in 1962. That aide was his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, who confirmed the story in a speech at a Cigar Association of America annual meeting, I believe it was in 1987, at which I was present.

But the cigar was not the Petit Corona, which in that era was 5" x 41r and retailed for 40¢, it was the Petit Upmann, which was a machine made cigar, 3 3/4" x 32r that retailed for 25¢."
"Here's a clip I just found of Pierre Salinger telling the story from the dais of a dinner, which, although I don't know the time and place, I suspect was some sort of cigar event in London, since to Salinger's right sits my friend, Nicholas Freeman (RIP), the owner at the time of Hunters & Frankau, the UK importer and distributor of Cuban Cigars. The clip also shows JFK smoking the small cigar.

As an aside, although the H. Upmann Petit Upmann is the size mentioned by Salinger, I was in charge of inventory control for FC&G at the time and we did not import that cigar under that name. It was sold in the U.S. under the frontmark, Demi Tasse. Perhaps Salinger was confused because it was called Petit Upmann in England, Cuba and the rest of the world."

P.S. According to my friend Simon Chase, of Hunters and Frankau, London, one of the most knowledgeable cigar men in the world, specializing in Cubans, who was there, the Pierre Salinger video in which he talks about JFK's cigar, is of a luncheon that took place in the private room of Wilton's Restaurant, Jermyn Street, London, Friday, May 3, 1991.
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