Size: Toro (6” x 54)
Factory: J.C. Newman PENSA
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
The Yagua is another cigar from Drew Newman, J.C. Newman’s fourth generation.
At our J.C. Newman PENSA factory in Nicaragua, Drew heard of an old style of rolling cigars from the factory’s general manager, Lazaro Lopez. Lopez runs the operation down at PENSA and his grandfather used to bundle cigars uniquely in 1940’s Cuba. He would bind the finished cigars together without any molds or presses. Rather, he would use leaves from the Yagua, a Cuban royal palm tree, to give these cigars a shape.
The cigars are rolled a little more wet than usual and once the humidity stabilizes, they take the shape of the other cigars inside the leaf. Every Yagua will have a slightly different shape. Packaged in a crate style box, these really give off an antique and rural appearance. A U.S.A. Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper incases Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Just like the J.C. Newman Cigar, The American, there is nothing else in the industry like it.
A beautiful burgundy band with gold accents compliments the dark, oily wrapper. Part of the fun with this cigar is that every stick is shaped differently; the one I smoked for this review happened to be shaped like a rhombus. Upon smelling the foot, I was greeted with hay, barnyard, and a dark fruit undertone. I would not be surprised if the Yagua tree imparted some flavor of palm fruit. The cap held up nicely against a few shallow guillotine cuts until I got my desired depth. The cold draw was intriguing as well; hints of pepper, musk, and fruit complimented the sweet chocolatey wrapper. Overall, I found it to be very savory and earthy.
Toasting the cigar released a thick, dark smoke that smelled of damp broadleaf tobacco. It reminded me of the smell my father used to have on his clothes after a late-night cigar and was very nostalgic.
The first third of the cigar was medium in flavor but on the retrohale I found the strength to be medium-full. Dark spices, barnyard, and sweet fruity tones delivered in a peanut butter textured smoke was most delighting. The wrapper did not require any touch up; a slight moment of waviness evened out on its own with a good double puff. The draw was perfect, and the smoke output was spot on. All flavors were well executed, dark, and very rich.
The second third of Yaga featured a nice transition into what stayed consistent during the duration of the cigar. The spices died down a little bit and the other flavors became more prominent. Musky barnyard, chocolatey peanut butter and dark fruit took the stage. I can tell that the wrapper is well fermented and aged. There is a lot of flavor consistent with the best characteristics of Broadleaf tobacco.
The cigar never got hot no matter what I threw at it. The strength and flavor was overall medium but retrohaling gave me a little more bite. The bouquet coming off the foot was very dark and earthy.
I found myself enjoying the smell of the smoke, even when I was not puffing.
Though there was not much of a flavor change upon transitioning into the final third the cigar remained quite enjoyable.
The earthy tones and spice were well balanced and the smoke coated the mouth nicely until the very end. Sweetness came into play on the finish to make for the perfect synergy of flavors.
This cigar is constructed like El Reloj itself: very sturdy. All the components of this cigar were thick tobaccos. Even lighting it outside with windy conditions made for an even burn. The flavor was super rich, thick, and pungent. I would want to pick this cigar off the shelves regardless of the story. The wrapper drew me in, while the heap of flavor kept my attention.
Because this is a small batch, limited production cigar, there’s an element of adventure added when trying to track down the Yagua at your favorite brick & mortar store.
A Note to Retailers:
With every limited release cigar, I think it is important to not sell the cigars as a complete box. Most stores that have access to the Yagua will only have about two boxes on hand.
At the same time, I think it’s important to encourage your patrons to buy more than one, to see how they progress when aging. Smoking one after a few months, another at the six-month mark will give the best overall experience. There is a lot of fun to be had with a cigar when the production has a new technique to it.
About Nikolaos Psilopoulos
Nik has been working on the retail side of the cigar industry for 5 years. The past 3 years his palette has been experienced enough to formally taste and review cigars for your reading pleasure. At El Reloj he is running our factory store and giving tours. He is a Certified Retail Tobacconist with the PCA’s educational resource, Tobacconist University. You can expect him to further his tobacco knowledge with us at J.C. Newman and encourages visitors to ask all the questions that come to mind.
Outside of the world of cigars, you can find him enjoying the great outdoors or participating in dog sports with his Australian Shepherd.
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