This week, J.C. Newman Cigar Co. is shipping the first release of the year of its famous Yagua cigars. A total of 1,250 boxes of Yagua are being shipped to 396 premium cigar retailers in 46 states. The second and final release of Yagua in 2023 will ship in November.
“It continues to shock me that Yagua has developed a cult-like following,” said fourth-generation owner Drew Newman. “I didn’t make Yagua to sell. In fact, I didn’t think that cigar enthusiasts would like Yagua because it breaks all of the cigar-making rules. Yagua is misshapen and unattractive. We roll it with under fermented tobacco, and no two Yagua are alike.”
Yagua is a recreation of a farm-rolled cigar that Lazaro Lopez, general manager of the J.C. Newman PENSA cigar factory in Nicaragua, remembers his grandfather making at his family’s tobacco farm in Cuba in the 1940s. Over dinner in 2019, Lopez shared this story with Newman:
“At our family farm, my grandfather would take fresh tobacco leaves from the curing barns and roll cigars without any molds or presses,” said Lopez. “In an attempt to give his cigars a traditional shape, he would tie a handful of them together using pieces of the Cuban royal palm tree, known as the yagua. When he was ready to enjoy his personal cigars, he untied the bundle. He loved how every cigar had its own unique shape. I still remember the rich aroma and taste of my grandfather’s cigars.”
Shortly after being rolled, twenty Yagua cigars are bound together while still wet using a Yagua palmiche palm leaf. Each box of Yagua contains a bundle of twenty cigars still wrapped in the palm leaf. Yagua cigars measure 6 x 54.
“Yagua is a difficult cigar to roll because we use an under fermented Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, blend the filler tobaccos differently, and do not use the usual tools and techniques of a cigar factory,” said Newman. “As the wrapper is not fully fermented, we have age the cigars for a full year after they are rolled.”