J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has begun shipping the first release of its celebrated Yagua cigars for 2023. A total of 1,250 boxes are en route to 396 premium cigar retailers across 46 states. The second and last Yagua dispatch for the year is slated for November.
The unique Yagua cigar has garnered an unexpected, almost cult-like following, much to the surprise of fourth-generation owner, Drew Newman. “The acceptance and demand for Yagua continually amaze me. We didn’t initially create Yagua with the intent to sell. I had my reservations, thinking that cigar connoisseurs might not appreciate it because it deviates so much from the standard norms of cigar-making. Yagua is irregular in shape, it might even be considered unattractive. We use underfermented tobacco in its creation, and no two Yaguas are identical.”
The Yagua is a nostalgic tribute to a type of farm-rolled cigar that Lazaro Lopez, General Manager of the J.C. Newman PENSA cigar factory in Nicaragua, recalls his grandfather crafting on his family’s tobacco farm in Cuba in the 1940s. Over a meal in 2019, Lopez narrated this memory to Newman:
“My grandfather would take fresh tobacco leaves straight from the curing barns and roll cigars without using any molds or presses,” Lopez recounted. “To give his cigars a semblance of traditional shape, he would bundle them together, tying them with fragments of the Cuban royal palm tree, known as the yagua. Upon deciding to enjoy his personal cigars, he would untie the bundle. The result was an array of uniquely shaped cigars, which he relished. I vividly recall the rich aroma and flavor of my grandfather’s cigars.”
Echoing this old-world method, twenty Yagua cigars are tied together while still moist using a Yagua palmiche palm leaf after being rolled. Each Yagua box delivers a bundle of 20 cigars, still swathed in the palm leaf. The Yagua cigars are of 6×54 dimensions.
“Crafting the Yagua presents its unique challenges because we utilize an under fermented Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, blend the filler tobaccos differently, and sidestep traditional cigar factory tools and techniques,” Newman explained. “Since the wrapper is not fully fermented, we let the cigars age for a complete year post-rolling.”