Cigar Buying Guides

2019 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to J.C. Newman Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential J.C. Newman Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

Editors/Reviewers: Jared Gulick, Gary Korb, John Pullo

The J.C. Newman story begins in 1875 – the year Julius Newman was born in a tiny Hungarian Village. It was an unlikely locale for someone who would later preside over one of the world’s leading premium cigar brands. Then, in 1888, like many people from Eastern Europe at that time, the Newman family left Hungary in search of The American Dream. When they arrived at Ellis Island, NY, young Julius was required to choose a middle name, which he was never given. An immigration officer suggested “Caesar,” after the Roman emperor. Julius liked it, but the official misspelled the lad’s name on the ledger with an “e.” And so, Julius Newman became Julius Caeser Newman.

JC Newman cigars guide JC Newman Diamond Crown Julius Caeser cigar
via J.C. Newman Instagram

Two years later, the Newmans settled in Cleveland, Ohio. The property consisted of a modest brick house and a barn. For whatever reason, J.C. was fascinated with making cigars, which his mother encouraged. She even paid an experienced cigar roller $3.00 a month to teach Julius the trade. Sparked by an entrepreneurial impulse, in 1895 J.C. built a cigar table from some old barn wood, borrowed $50 to buy tobacco, and set up shop in the barn. J.C.’s first sale came from the family’s local grocer who ordered 500 cigars under the name A.B.C. Cigars. The letters stood for “Akron, Bedford and Cleveland,” which was the Cleveland area’s local streetcar line.

And so, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company was born. In 1895, there were over 42,000 licensed cigar manufacturers in the U.S. Today, J.C. Newman Cigar Company remains the only premium cigar maker still owned and operated by its founding family.

JC Newman cigars guide JC Newman handmade cigars history
via J.C. Newman Instagram

Success followed, and the company eventually split into two Ohio factories that provided jobs for over 700 employees. The J.C. Newman Cigar Company continued to grow, and remained in Ohio through the mid-1950s. Although many cigars were still rolled by hand, machines were later introduced to help increase production.

Yet, whether it was by hand or machine, like most U.S. cigar manufacturers, J.C. Newman cigars were rolled with Cuban-grown tobacco. J.C. also knew that the heart of the American cigar industry lay in Tampa, Florida. One reason for this was due to Tampa’s close proximity to Cuba. So, in 1954, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company moved to the nation’s cigar mecca, Ybor City.

Six years later, President John F. Kennedy enacted the Cuban embargo, making it virtually impossible for the company to source Cuban tobacco. As a result, after 1961, tobacco from the Dominican Republic was replacing Cuban tobacco. For the wrappers, J.C. Newman became the first premium cigar maker in America to use African Cameroon leaf.

Demand continued for J.C. Newman cigars, pushing the factory beyond its limitations. In another smart business move, J.C. Newman partnered with the Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, who agreed to make Newman’s most popular premium cigar, Cuesta Rey, on a handshake. This decision also led to the formation of the Newman-Fuente company. It was a huge win-win for the Newman and Fuente families. Both companies are still based in Ybor City, and J.C. Newman continues to manufacture cigars, mostly machine-made, at their historic El Reloj factory.

JC Newman cigars guide JC Newman premium cigars at Famous Smoke Shop
via Famous Smoke Shop Instagram

Near the end of the Cigar Boom 90s, bolder cigars, especially those made with Nicaraguan tobacco became the rage. To meet the demand, J.C. Newman opened their PENSA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Today, boasting three production facilities, Brick House, Perla Del Mar, El Baton, and Quorum cigars are made at PENSA in Nicaragua. Diamond Crown, MAXIMUS, Julius Caeser, Black Diamond, and La Unica cigars continue to be made by Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic, while Tampa Trolleys, Rigoletto, Factory Throwouts, Moya, and Trader Jack’s are made at El Reloj in Tampa.

124 years later, the Newmans continue the family tradition under third generation brothers, Eric and Bobby Newman, while Eric’s son, Drew Newman, represents the fourth generation as the company’s General Counsel. That the J.C. Newman Cigar Company continues to thrive is a testament to the company’s dedication to quality and to cigar consumers worldwide.

For this J.C. Newman cigar guide, we’ve sampled a cross-section of their cigars (19 so far) available at Famous Smoke Shop. These reviews will give you our basic experiences with each cigar, and a taste of what to expect if you decide to smoke it yourself. Our reviews start with Newman’s top of the line super premium, Diamond Crown Julius Caeser, and end with their Tampa factory’s machine mades. We invite you to leave a comment at the end, sharing your experience with any of the cigars below.

Coming Soon: Cuesta Rey and Quorum Cigar Reviews

Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Pyramid (6½” x 52)
Strength: Medium to Medium-plus
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana (aged 5 yrs.)
Binder: Dominican (aged 5 yrs.)
Filler: Caribbean and Central American (aged 5 yrs.)

Construction: Very good. Rolling was well done. The wrapper was even color with an oily patina, some toothiness, and an attractive cap.
Draw: Very good. Especially since I find a lot of tapered head cigars to be finicky.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and nutty.
Toasting & Light: The cigar lit evenly offering some pepper up front, more nuttiness, and a subtle note of cream.
Base flavors: Sweet tobacco, cedar, cashews, earth, espresso.
Retrohale: Creamy.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very good. Ash was mostly firm and grey in color. No major issues regarding the burn; just one minor touch-up early on.
Balance of flavors: Excellent. Mostly consistent with a few interesting change-ups.

Summary: The Diamond Crown Julius Caeser selection ranks among the upmarket cigars from J.C. Newman made at Tabacalera Fuente. The smoke was mostly smooth, creamy, medium in body, and produced a healthy volume of smoke. Notes of sweet tobacco, cashews, cedar, and light spice on the finish made the opening act of this Pyramid very entertaining.

Underscored by the cashew and cedar flavors, the second act had less sweetness, while earthier flavors emerged. Still, very satisfying with an excellent burn, and rich, creamy smoke.

The final act revealed a bolder attitude, as an espresso flavor entered the frame. Moving into nub territory, the cedar and cashews also continued to leak through. By the last inch, literally, the cigar remained bold in taste, yet never turned sour.

Suffice it to say. . . The Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Pyramid is more on the order of complex than multiflavored. No doubt, the cigar kept me interested. Additionally, cigar smokers who have a fondness for high-ticket items will more likely be drawn to this cigar. – Gary Korb

Diamond Crown Maximus Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No. 2 (7” x 50 Churchill)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Sun Grown (Natural)
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: A satiny, chocolate brown wrapper with modest veins – and rolled seamlessly.
Draw: Somewhat tight.
Pre-light flavor: Floral, salt, citrus peel, crisp spice.
Toasting & Light: Citrus peel and wet hay.
Base flavors: Toasted nuts, citrus, wood, earth.
Retrohale: Dried flowers.
Aroma: Invitingly toasty, woody and sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: A razor thin carbon line reveals a light grey ash with a bit of flake.
Balance of flavors: Body is full flavored over strength.

Summary: “Exclusively hand rolled in the Dominican Republic with Carlito Fuente’s very best master rollers,” says the JC Newman website. So you have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for, quality-wise.

The spice I found when lighting up bows out pretty quickly; it’s replaced by a zesty citrus peel character…and it’s really good. Retrohale the Maximus, and it’s straight-up dried flowers – not a hint of spice or any peppery burn.

It’s not long before the Diamond Crown Maximus triples down on this sweet sun-grown citrus taste, which gets my brain turning about candy: sweet, tangy and bordering on tart, this is the cigar that will appeal to the gummi crowd.

Listed at full, it’s the flavors that contribute most of the body; it’s not until the last 2 inches that this Diamond Crown Maximus gets a little heft to it – some earth and spice is introduced, as is some strength. It’s savory, but not in the usual steak way.

Even though this Newman super premium shows off some impressive body, I would say this Diamond Crown Maximus might have a hard time standing up to a beefier cocktail. So if smoking 16 bucks is part of your personal reward plan, choose an equally opulent drink like cognac. – John Pullo

Diamond Crown Cigar Review (Natural)

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No. 4 (5 ½” x 54 Robusto )
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: Evenly golden brown and smooth with a Cuban-style triple cap.
Draw: A little loose.
Pre-light flavor: Cookie-like. Like animal crackers.
Toasting & Light: Leathery, floral, and sweet.
Base flavors: Cedar, toast, leather, spices, and a sweet finish. Some pepper upfront.
Retrohale: Surprisingly feisty with peppers, spices, and floral notes.
Aroma: Spicy wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns mostly even, but a little fast with the extra airflow. The ash is pure white and holds well.
Balance of flavors: Refined with nothing jumping out much more than anything else.

Summary: Much like the Brick House Connecticut, Diamond Crown Natural starts off a little more peppery and evens out as you smoke it. The cedar, leather, toast, spices, and sweetness I picked up are almost standard for a Connecticut-wrapped cigar with a Dominican core.

Not long after lighting it, nuttiness started popping up sporadically, and this gave the smoke a salty-sweet finish. Flavors were smooth, balanced, and I can tell that some TLC went into the blending room when this was crafted. It seemed that every nuance was complementary to something in the blend. It’s not a highlight you’ll often find.

A little after the halfway mark, this blend absolutely came alive. Sure, it was still undeniably Connecticut, but the flavors just seemed so pronounced and for lack of a better word…available. There was a slight emphasis on salt here, but it never broke off enough to overstep.

If you’ve got money to burn (pun intended), then Diamond Crown Natural is refined and offers everything – and more – you’d want in a Connecticut. If you’re more frugally minded, I think you’ll be plenty happy with a cheaper thrill like Brick House Connecticut instead. – Jared Gulick

Diamond Crown Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No. 4 (5 ½” x 54 Robusto)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: Nearly black in color, with a couple of small wrapper blemishes and a triple cap.
Draw: Great.
Pre-light flavor: Wood, salt, and faintly sweet.
Toasting & Light: Grains, wood, and a little salt.
Base flavors: Dough, baking chocolate, salted nuts, and some wisps of crisp earth.
Retrohale: Creamy with notes of flowers and sweet veggies.
Aroma: Spicy.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent. There was a crack near the foot that started to split, but it worked itself out. The ash is mostly white and holds fast.
Balance of flavors: An excellent, complex mix.

Summary: Back in 1995 when Diamond Crown was first blended, there were few cigars larger than a 52 gauge. It’s hard to believe now, but at the time, most didn’t think it was even possible to roll anything larger. To ensure success, Stanford Newman teamed up with Carlos Fuente Jr. on the Diamond Crown series (all 54 gauges). It was a game-changer that helped pave the way for a big-ring trend that grows to this day.

Like a four-course meal at a five-star restaurant, Diamond Crown Maduro serves world-class flavor without wasting time. Doughy flavors, along with baking chocolate, salted nuts, and crisp earth were all available from the start. They ran as a sort of constant, never fading or growing…just a steady stream of flavor with every puff. Who needs changes when the cigar tastes this good? On the retrohale, you’ll find smooth layers of flowers, sweet vegetables, and even a little cream.

All this from a mellow cigar, too? Sold. Look, I get it…top shelf smokes are sometimes hard to justify. If you can afford to smoke these regularly, rock on and go with it. If not, maybe pick up a few for special occasions. They say you get what you pay for, and Diamond Crown Maduro’s steeper, super-premium price tag inclines me to believe that it’s sometimes true. – Jared

Perla Del Mar Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Perla G (6 ¼” x 54 Toro)
Strength: Mellow (listed Medium)
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: The Perla has a very delicate looking Connecticut leaf; beautifully box pressed with a triple cap, the leaf shows a few veins while the seams are obvious. Firm in the hand.
Draw: Only a hint of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Massive taste of barnyard – followed by hay and leaves.
Toasting & Light: Coffee, vanilla and fresh-cut wood.
Base flavors: Coffee, wood, bread and earth.
Retrohale: Toasty sweet with a hint of pepper.
Aroma: Has a roasted nut quality.
Burn & Ash Quality: The grey ash flakes a bit, but holds well otherwise; the burn has a slight wave, but it’s certainly livable.
Balance of flavors: Strength eventually catches up to flavor intensity.

Summary: The Perla del Mar’s Connecticut wrapper looks exceedingly delicate, like it’s ready to split if you even just look at it the wrong way (fortunately, it didn’t). This Toro-sized Perla G is finished with a neat, crisp box pressing, and retains its shape throughout most of the smoke.

For a Connecticut, I was a little surprised that the smoke wasn’t that creamy in body…a function of the Nicaraguan tobaccos underneath, maybe. In short order, the taste gets very bready; after an inch, the smoke sweetens up nicely. And in true Connecticut fashion, a little bitterness shows from time to time.

The profile opens up nice and wide in the second half – the Nicaraguan tobaccos are driving a tangy-sweet mix brimming with coffee and wood, though I still get some of that dryness associated with Connecticut wrapper. And it’s about now that the Perla shows some strength, so don’t think you can go and puff it mindlessly to the finish.

I smoked the Perla del Mar on a clean palate, my first cigar of the day – and the flavor really popped. But where this cigar really shines in the retrohale: vibrant sweetness with a bit of bite. It’s a great sensation, and an eye-opener if you make this your first cigar of the day. – John

Perla Del Mar Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Perla TG (6″ x 60, box-pressed)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder & Filler: Pueblo Nuevo, La Reina, Condega, and Jalapa (Nicaragua)

Construction: The wrapper had a smooth appearance and texture. It wasn’t as toothy in feel as some Broadleaves, and the head was applied with a triple seam cap. The box-pressing was nicely squared, and the feel of the cigar was solid and hefty in the hand. However, when placed in the mouth, the cigar seemed to have a bigger feel to it than other 6x60s.
Draw: Perfect. Thick, creamy smoke flowed nicely from the foot and through the head.
Pre-light flavor: Slightly sweet and leathery.
Toasting & Light: Despite its wide ring size, the cigar lit fairly quickly and evenly. The initial flavors were sweet and earthy. About a quarter-of-an-inch in, some black pepper manifested itself, but quickly faded.
Base flavors: Sweet tobacco, leather, oak, earth, black pepper, cocoa.
Retrohale: Peppery, but not overwhelming.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very good. Some uneven spots, which I blame on this cigar’s width, but no major touch-ups or issues. The ash was light grey, and fairly solid.
Balance of flavors: Very good. More earthy in the middle stage, but the other flavors added just enough support to keep it all in check.

Summary: This is a BIG cigar. If you’ve smoked any of the smaller sizes in the Perla del Mar line, you’re in for a hearty surprise. The smoke was rich, dense, very creamy, and medium-bodied. Due to the extra tobaccos at the core, it also offered an earthier, spicier experience. With its San Andrés wrapper I was expecting it to be sweeter. Thing is, the additional tobaccos tended to drown-out some of the wrapper’s natural sweetness. It leaned more to the peppery side, but I also got a fair amount of leather, cedar, and cocoa at times.

Suffice it to say. . . Big ring cigars really DO have an effect on a cigar’s blend. If 660s are your thing, you’re gonna like this cigar a lot. It also helps if you like your cigars more spicy than sweet. – Gary

Brick House Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 54)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: This cigar was so well built, it actually lived up to its name. The wrapper was even in color from top to bottom; the rolling is virtually seamless; and the Habano wrapper was finished with a triple seam cap.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Light sweetness and a slight fruity note.
Toasting & Light: The cigar toasted evenly in less than 20 seconds, and that was all she wrote. Smoke also flowed easily through the head. The initial puffs were smooth with some sweet notes, earth, and light pepper.
Base flavors: Earth, cedar, sweet tobacco, cinnamon.
Retrohale: Peppery. About a “6” in intensity on a scale of 1-10.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent.
Balance of flavors: Just right.

Summary: For the first two thirds the smoke was smooth and earthy with an undercurrent of sweet tobacco and cedar in the mix. Occasionally, some hints of cinnamon came into play for a pleasant note of sweet spice.

At the midsection, the body fattened-up taking the smoke to medium-plus. A little more earth entered the scene, too, but the sweet spice and cedar remain present and well-balanced.

Act II is also where you realize you’re smoking a no-nonsense, Nicaraguan cigar. It’s like someone suddenly turned on the lights. The remainder of the cigar delivered a bolder edge, and remained so from there.

Suffice it to say. . . The Brick House Robusto has just about everything you could hope for in a well-made Nicaraguan cigar—well-balanced flavors, a fair price, and superb quality. Even newer cigar smokers would be wise to put this cigar on their “must try” list of Nicaraguans. Finally, if consistency is a precondition for you, the Brick House Robusto makes a very loyal companion. – Gary

Brick House Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5” x 54)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca (Maduro)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Firm and tightly rolled, the triple capped wrapper shows few veins and the tiniest bit of tooth and oil. The seams on this Brazilian top coat are hard to find.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor: Leather is very obvious, along with wood and earth. There’s also a whiff of barnyard, and a raisin-sweet aftertaste.
Toasting & Light: Gritty earth, wood and dried fruit – with a slight hint of spice.
Base flavors: Pepper, earth, semi-sweet chocolate, charred wood, coffee.
Retrohale: Spice and hay.
Aroma: Slightly floral, and creamy sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: This Maduro burns true, with a neatly stacked ash.
Balance of flavors: Complex, savory and sweet, with a good balance versus strength.

Summary: Brick House is being generous here – this is a fat Robusto. Once lit, this Brazilian Maduro is noticeably darker in overall taste than the standard Brick House…but once I start taking in some huge rips of that thick n’ chewy smoke, I begin to appreciate how the wrapper’s chocolate sweetness balances out the charred wood sensation.

Then Brick House gives a peek of some tasty things to come: the smoke gets sweeter; the finish gets a little longer, more meaty and buttery. Just before the halfway mark the smoke takes on notes of sweet spice, cedar and coffee, leaving behind a lip-smacking, leathery sweetness. There’s still some pepper hanging out in the background for good measure.

At the last third comes the breakthrough to savory status we’ve been waiting for, as the Brick House Maduro is finally burning with sweet, buttery smoke laced with cedar, leather and a trail of spice to the finish.

For as much as I liked the Brick House’s sweet moves, I will say, this may be a pretty meaty smoke to some: it’s Nicaraguan, it’s Maduro – but it’s not overbearing, even if it is your first smoke of the day. I also think you’ll discover some neat tastes here from the wrapper – so if this is your introduction to Arapiraca, the Brick House Maduro is worth the price of admission. – John

Brick House Double Connecticut Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Corona Larga (6 ¼” x 46)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade
Binder: U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Leather-hued wrapper with some dark blotches and a quad cap.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet with notes of nuts.
Toasting & Light: A shot of pepper with leather and earth.
Base flavors: Leather, toast, wood, earth, nuts, and a touch of cream. Hints of coffee rise up as it progresses.
Retrohale: Buttery, with pepper, spices, and some floral notes.
Aroma: Butter and nuts.
Burn & Ash Quality: Sharp burn line with a grey ash that holds for about an inch at a time.
Balance of flavors: A gentle approach and nice balance.

Summary: Brick House Connecticut is one of the few value-priced smokes to be wrapped in genuine U.S.-grown tobacco. J.C. Newman took it a step further with the inclusion of a U.S.-grown Connecticut binder, too. With manufacturers cutting costs via Ecuadorian varietals, this cigar is a rare bird on those points alone. So…how does it taste?

To put it simply, this little Connecticut offers more than I expected. Upfront, it’s uncharacteristically peppery. This effect quickly wanes off and makes way for mellowed toast and woody flavors. From there, the cigar slowly builds off that foundation with buttery notes of cream and nuts.

Coffee takes the stage at the halfway point. It’s somewhat faint, but much like the flavors did at the beginning, it’s a slow rise of java notes as it smokes toward the band. The retrohale was my favorite aspect – ultra buttery, with softer tones of pepper and spices, and some floral attributes as well.

In closing, there’s a lot more to enjoy than Brick House Connecticut’s meager price would suggest. We often define mellow cigars as boring…but that’s not always the case. This blend is a fine example of one that isn’t. Whether you’re just starting out, or simply just want a cigar that doesn’t ask too much of you to be enjoyed, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for here. – Jared

El Baton Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Corojo
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Milk chocolate brown and smooth with a few prominent veins and a slight tooth.
Draw: A little loose.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and spicy peppers.
Toasting & Light: Grains, and a tinge of pepper on my lips.
Base flavors: Hints of cedar, dark wood, nuts, earth, and a spicy…almost nutmeg-esque sweetness.
Retrohale: Intensely flavorful with peppers, shortbread cookie, and exotic spices.
Aroma: Nuts and spices.
Burn & Ash Quality: Slightly wonky burn with a firm, marbled ash. A small crack in the wrapper at the two thirds mark got out of hand. It didn’t affect my enjoyment.
Balance of flavors: On the spicier side, but still excellent.

Summary: El Baton is a revived J.C. Newman brand that dates back to 1914. Back then, they were only a nickel apiece. After a few short years, it was shuffled off the market by cheaper, machine-made sticks. Fast forward to 2008, and Newman’s grandsons, Eric and Bobby breathed into El Baton a new life.

Grainy flavors and a burst of tingling pepper were the start of my El Baton session. Sweetness was interspersed – a sort of natural tobacco element that’s synonymous with Corojo. Not long after, the smoke evolved. First, a tsunami of savory, salted nuts. Next, an onslaught of dark wood and earth. This went on and on, like your favorite song on repeat. It didn’t matter how many times you heard it – you loved it just the same.

The retrohale was unshakably potent. Not so much in strength (though, trust me, it’s there), but in flavor intensity. There was pepper, spices, and even some shortbread cookie. It’s hard to break this cigar up in tangible sections. It seemed like there were too many to count. All I can tell you is that it was a wild ride.

Compared to the portions of their portfolio I’ve sampled, El Baton is the outlier. Its flavor forward, spicy repertoire gives it that sought-after contemporary appeal. Much like IPAs cater to the craft beer enthusiast, this cigar is geared toward today’s post-boom smokers. If you crave complexity, this cigar is locked and loaded. – Jared

La Unica Cabinet Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No.400 (4½” x 50 Rothschild)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Claro
Binder & Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: Very good. Cigar felt pretty solid. It also had a semi-boxed pressed shape to it, which I found interesting, and I liked it. Wrapper was very blonde, varied slightly in color from the middle down to the foot, and was finished with a well-made triple seam cap.
Draw: Just right. Smoke flowed easily from the foot and head.
Pre-light flavor: Toasty and sweet.
Toasting & Light: Cigar took to flame pretty quickly. My wrapper charred easily, so watch it.
Base flavors: Toasty, nutty, sweet tobacco, cream.
Retrohale: Creamy with little else early on.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Perfect. Burn was even, forming a firm, almost solid grey ash. When ashed, an attractive perfect cone shaped was revealed.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: This La Unica Cabinet started off sweet and mellow, and paired perfectly with my coffee. The flavors were light and airy with some toastiness, followed by some nuttiness, sweet tobacco, and cream. At the midpoint, the body took an upturn revealing some earthy notes as the sweetness took a back seat. In the last act, the smoke acquired some slight bitterness and additional strength. This blocked-out some of the more satisfying notes, but all-in-all, still a worthwhile smoke.

Suffice it to say. . . I’ll get some Doubting Thomases here, but this little number reminded me of some milder Cuban cigars. It burned perfectly, offering some mellow, toasty, and sweet flavors. I was even tempted to call my La Unica a “perfect cigar,” but it fell short in the last inch. Then again, it was the last inch – or I smoked it faster than usual. And at just over six bucks for a single (at press time), I’d say I got my money’s worth out of this Rothie. Highly recommended for newbs, or for vets looking for a well-made, mellow alternative. – Gary

La Unica Cabinet Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No. 200 (7” x 49 Churchill)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: This La Unica has that characteristic veiny, toothy broadleaf. Lumpy and bumpy and chocolate brown, it’s firm – but not exactly straight on both sides.
Draw: Somewhat tight, but opens up after an inch.
Pre-light flavor: Honey sweet, nut and leather.
Toasting & Light: Hay, roasted nuts, and the tiniest bit of spice.
Base flavors: Barnyard, wood and cocoa.
Retrohale: Roasted coffee with a hint of pepper.
Aroma: Sweet and woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: The solid white ash gives off a bit of flake, and burns mostly straight.
Balance of flavors: Very mellow, very even in flavors.

Summary: La Unica originally debuted in the mid-80s, made on that famous handshake between Stanford Newman and Carlos Fuente, Sr. Newman wanted a bundle cigar; a bit of an odd request, as many of the bundle cigars sold back then were just factory seconds (although we know better now). It was up to Newman to select the blend, and it was Fuente who picked the sizes…and the rest is history. La Unica would finally find its way into a box around 2007; the brand is still produced at Tabacalera A. Fuente.

This La Unica Maduro is not the most beautifully rolled cigar, as it’s not straight on both sides. The ash on this slow burner is a little flaky, with the end looking like a broom – but it holds well. Flavor is a whole different ballgame, however…

This smoke is a chance for Connecticut Broadleaf to stretch out and show you its range. Because it just keeps getting sweeter as you go – like on the border of caramel…then berry sweet.

Eventually this sugar rush tapers off, stepping aside to show off a more charred wood taste. Something else that really gets me about La Unica: the delightful buzzing on my lips. It’s more of that peppery taste in the Broadleaf that I’m picking up.

The La Unica Maduro is an easy cigar to retrohale, and a great one to learn on. You’ll get, like, one flavor – so if you try it through the nose and can pick something out, take your “Learned to Retrohale” merit badge and show it to your friends with pride.

For Maduro regulars, La Unica is mellow, sweet snack food. And though some may call it an “old timer’s delight” – given the response (hint: big) that La Unica got on our Instagram, it’s a cigar that holds fond memories for many of us. This one’s a must for beginners, too – super mellow and finishing short, this Maduro is Exhibit A in the evidence that dark cigars are not always strong. Very enjoyable smoke. – John

J.C. Newman Machine Made Cigars – Made in U.S.A.

Trader Jack’s Cigar Review

Country of Origin: United States
Size: Lonsdale (6 ¼” x 45)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Piloto Cubano
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua

Construction: Well-crafted with a rustic look and some water spots. There’re prominent veins but the cap is snug and stays put.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor: Berry, fruit, and a hint of vanilla.
Toasting & Light: Sweet, sweet, and more sweet. Almost like a fruit juice flavor.
Base flavors: Fruit, berries, sugar, vanilla, and just a pinch of spice with a rum finish.
Retrohale: Too mellow to register.
Aroma: Slightly nutty and sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Ash stays put longer than anticipated and it burns mostly straight.
Balance of flavors: Not a bad mix considering the price and the infusion.

Summary: The aroma from opening the bag reminded me of those old Smarties candies. You can even smell it when the bag’s closed. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…I’m not about to go all oddball on the tasting notes, but it was dead-on.

It’s said that this cigar has an island feel to it. I sensed notes of berry, fruit, and a trace of vanilla. The cap is ultra-sweet…like those sugary fruit juices that are heavy on the corn syrup. That flavor progresses into fruit, berries, vanilla, and a splash of rum on the finish. Some of that sweetness fades as you near the midsection, but it’s more consistent than it isn’t.

Here’s a quick checklist. Is the cigar complex? Nope. Decadent? Nada. Good looking? Nein. What Trader Jack’s is, however, is a great value for your money. I was as skeptical as they come before I lit mine up, but truth be told, it was smooth, sweet, and delicious. I could just as easily light one up on my back patio as I could in the Caribbean. Remember when I said J.C. Newman claims these things give an island vibe? To that point, they’re absolutely right. Trader Jack’s is my new favorite guilty pleasure stick. – Jared

Moya Cigar Review (Natural)

Country of Origin: United States
Size: Casadores (5 ½” x 48 Toro)
Strength: Mellow (listed Medium)
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: A few cracks, prominent veins, and splotches. Looks disheveled.
Draw: Slightly tight.
Pre-light flavor: Buttery and nutty.
Toasting & Light: Big savory note that quickly fades.
Base flavors: Nuts, cedar, earth, and grass.
Retrohale: A hint of floral, and pepper, especially later in the cigar.
Aroma: Warm and buttery.
Burn & Ash Quality: A nice dusty-grey ash and a sharp burn line.
Balance of flavors: Leans earthy and nutty.

Summary: When the price is under $2 per stick, there are going to be issues. It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN. Moya Natural’s main issue is that it’s too earthy and grassy for my palate. But aside from being a tad tight on the draw, that was my only real complaint. Flavor is subjective, and since everything else stacks up, I can’t knock it for being outside of my purview.

From foot to nub, it’s a steady stream of earth, grass, and some inklings of cedar and nuts. There are no noteworthy changes, so if you like this kind of thing, you’ll be in for a solid hour of it.

So, if a double dose of earth is your thing, here’s what you can expect: Solid construction, ash that sticks like Duct Tape (just look at the pic!), consistency, and a price that will even impress your better half. – Jared

Moya Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: United States
Size: Casadores (5 ½” x 48 Toro)
Strength: Mellow (listed Medium)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: Rough around the edges and milk chocolate brown.
Draw: A hair tight.
Pre-light flavor: A trace of meat and rich tobacco flavor.
Toasting & Light: A little sweet with some wisps of dry cashews.
Base flavors: Cashews, grains, faint spices, damp earth, and coffee toward the finale.
Retrohale: Grains and a little spice.
Aroma: Nutty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns straight with an easily dislodged ash.
Balance of flavors: Leans earthy and nutty.

Summary: My guess is that if you’re looking at Moya Casadores, you’re shopping exclusively on cost basis. On that front, these cigars are among the most frugal you can find.

Upfront, it’s nutty with notes of cashews and grains. I find the cigar to be a little mindless with a gentle complexity. The second third got much earthier with a heavy lean on damp earth and a somewhat sweet and grassy finish. The finale – that begins similarly, and it ends with some darker coffee flavors. I just wish it would have had more.

Sometimes you smoke a cigar because you just want to puff on something. Moya Casadores Maduro will fill that void at a super comfortable price. If that sounds like you, sticks like these can be a welcomed accompaniment to an agenda-free evening. – Jared

Factory Throwouts Cigar Review

Country of Origin: United States
Size: #59 (6¼” x 45 Corona Gorda)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun-grown (also available in Claro)
Filler: Caribbean and Central American

Construction: Very good, as machine-made cigars go.
Draw: Good, but could’ve been just a tad easier.
Pre-light flavor: Slight licorice taste.
Toasting & Light: Almost instantaneous. Initial flavors were a little sweet and toasty.
Base flavors: Sweet tobacco, cedar, beer nuts, light spice.
Retrohale: Woody.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: For what it is, this machine-rolled Corona Gorda offered an enjoyably sweet and mellow experience. Yes, the #59 has a pleasant personality, but don’t expect it to change much. Factory Throwouts cigars are admittedly produced for value. As the J.C. Newman website puts it, Factory Throwouts are made with “slightly discolored tobacco from expensive Ecuadorian Sun-grown imports, bought at a cheaper rate, with the savings passed on to the consumer.”

Moving along. . .the cigar offered a mellow smoke with well-defined flavors of sweet tobacco, cedar, beer nuts, and a hint of spice on the finish. There were also some earthier moments, but for the most part, this cigar breezed along with excellent balance. The longer it smoked, the more I liked it, and it was excellent with my coffee.

Suffice it to say. . . Leave your cigar snobbery at the door. For a little more than a buck-fifty, to my palate, it performed well. Like the Tampa Trolleys below, this is also a workin’ man’s cigar. It’s made to get you through your day and set you up for that after-hours primo. – Gary

Factory Throwouts Sweet Cigar Review

Country of Origin: United States
Size: #49 (5 ½” x 49 Robusto)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Sun Grown
Binder: Homogenized
Filler: Dominican Republic
Flavor: Sweet Cap

Construction: Rolled evenly with a spotty wrapper.
Draw: Good.
Pre-light flavor: Nice vanilla scent; the taste is all sweet from the cap, with a mellow flavor.
Toasting & Light: Wood and cream.
Base flavors: Sweet coffee, tobacco.
Retrohale: Cedar, burnt sugar.
Aroma: Toasty and sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns straight with the occasional runner; the ash is white, with a bit of flake.

Summary: Ever thought you’d be reading tasting notes for a mixed filler machine-made cigar? Believe it or not, I found a few. This Factory Throwout’s highlight is the sweet tip: it’s an enjoyable combination of marshmallow and vanilla sweet, as opposed to the overbearing, saccharine-sweet cap that many the way-more expensive premiums get treated to.

If there’s one thing I can say about JC Newman Cigars, it’s that they’re dead-honest. From the card on the front of the bundle: “Slightly Off Color”. You can see an example here:

There is no spice or pepper, though retrohaling the cigar does offer a bit of flash. Made with Dominican tobaccos, this Factory Throwout burns mellow-plus from beginning to end. The sweet tip lasts long enough to add a dusting of vanilla even after an inch and a half.

Factory Throwout Sweets are rolled on the same machines the Newmans have been using in their Tampa factory for 80 years; but will these give sweet tipped premium cigars a run for their money? I say this one at least makes a respectable showing.

What I like most is that the company is completely transparent about their cigarmaking process, which Gary described earlier: the wrapper is sun grown in Ecuador, but didn’t make the grade for premium handmades – so J.C. Newman buys it up cheap, rolls it on these Throwouts, and passes the savings to you. – John

Tampa Trolleys Cigar Review

Country of Origin: United States
Size: Churchill (7¼” x 52)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua

Construction: Roughhewn. The wrapper was veiny and showed several shades of brown, like it was colored-in with a crayon. The cap was a bit sloppy with a semi-tapered appearance, like a Marblehead cap. I also picked up a nice cocoa-like note off the wrapper.
Draw: A bit firm, but not an issue before lighting. Once lit, the draw produced a weak amount of smoke that worsened after the first inch.
Pre-light flavor: Unusually fruity.
Toasting & Light: Not bad. The initial flavors were sweet and nutty.
Base flavors: Earth, sweet tobacco, cedar.
Retrohale: Citrus and light pepper.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very good. The cigar burned evenly revealing a firm, almost entirely white ash.
Balance of flavors: Good.

Summary: Take a ride with me on the Tampa Trolley. With this sample’s weak draw, something told me this cigar was plugged, which is rare for a machine-made cigar. Once lit, puffing became more work than play. At just over an inch, the smoke increased, but only slightly. Rather than fight, I decided to take fewer puffs and let the cigar burn down a bit.

Staying with it paid-off at the next stop. After struggling with the draw for the first couple of inches, at the midpoint the cigar redeemed itself offering a richer tasting, yet still very mellow smoke. From there, the profile held steady with notes of earth, sweet tobacco, and cedar. Moreover, the retrohale had an interesting citrusy-peppery flavor.

Suffice it to say. . . I wish Tampa Trolleys had a little more going for it. Then, maybe my sample was “the funky stick” in the bundle. In any event, I can recommend Tampa Trolleys to anyone who likes to chew or smoke cheap cigars while preoccupied with other tasks. Odds are they’ll have better luck than I did, too. – Gary

Rigoletto Cigar Review

Country of Origin: United States
Size: Black Jack (5 3/8” x 46 Corona)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf (Maduro)
Binder: Homogenized
Filler: Dominican Republic

Construction: A rugged Broadleaf with color streaking and plenty of veins.
Draw: Some resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Earth, and slightly sweet.
Toasting & Light: Same earth and grassy sweetness, with a bit of hay.
Base flavors: Wood, grass and mellow tobacco.
Retrohale: Toasty and very mellow.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns great – with a white flaky ash.

Summary: Established as a brand in 1905, Rigoletto is a machine-made from JC Newman’s U.S. collection. Yes, we smoke them all.

At the risk of dating myself, this Black Jack is what I call a “drugstore smoke.” I worked at a pharmacy in high school, and I sold these – along with a bunch of everyday sticks like Bering, Parodi, and cigarettes – to the guys who came in for their newspaper and a handful of cigars. To this day, Rigoletto remains an everyday burn for a buck and change.

Of course, the Rigoletto Black Jack isn’t going to win any beauty contests…any more rustic and you’re in cheroot territory. But isn’t it what’s on the inside that’s important?

The smoke output is on the thin side, the taste is easygoing and the aroma is sweet; there isn’t much to say about flavor, other than you can bank on the Dominican tobaccos to keep it mellow. Although the sweetness of the Broadleaf does keep it interesting.

If you’re thinking about smoking Rigoletto, consider it a companion cigar – as it’s less about the cigar itself, and more about bringing some extra enjoyment to what you’re doing while smoking it. For instance: one of our customer reviewers called this, “the best fishing cigar for the money” – and I’m hard pressed to disagree. – John