When visiting Bespoke Unit Founder Paul Anthony in London, we both had the pleasure of sampling JC Newman’s newly-released blend, The American. Paul had actually been waiting in anticipation to try these with me since he received the in the USA before moving over.
Released to much fanfare and critical acclaim, the aptly-named range was announced as the first fully US-made cigar. So where better than to first try it while overlooking Buckingham Palace from Green Park in London?
In this article, Paul and I will be reviewing the JC Newman The American, where I’ll be touching on the following points:
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- Brand: J.C. Newman
- Range: The American
- Reviewed Vitola: 7 x 47 Churchill
- Filler: Connecticut Havana Seed, Pennsylvania Mennonite
- Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Wrapper: Florida Sun Grown
- Factory: El Reloj [Tampa, Florida]
- Handmade: Yes
- Body: Medium
- Estimated Smoking Time: 90 – 100 Minutes
- Pricing: $16 – $19.50 / Single
The first 100% US-made cigar, The American features a Florida Sun Grown wrapper from Corona Cigar Co.’s Jeff Borysiewicz in Clermont, Florida. As for the binder, it’s Connecticut Broadleaf from an eighth-generation family farmer Jon Foster. Finally, the filler consists of Foster’s Connecticut Havana tobacco and Mennonite-grown varietals from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
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JC Newman The American Look & Feel
- Wrapper Hue: Dark Cinnamon
- Rolling Consistency: Mostly Even
- Spring: Supple
- Aromas: Fudge, Star Anise, Molasses
Delivering an oily sheen, The American’s Florida Sun Grown wrapper boasts a dark cinnamon hue with a slightly mottled texture. A few veins are present but the rolling consistency is excellent, indicating a perfect construction. Similarly, applying pressure onto the cigar reveals a supply yet resistant spring.
Furthermore, its aromas are nothing short of compelling, which rich notes of fudge, star anise and molasses. Being in the UK at the time of testing this cigar, I could happily liken it to a hearty sticky toffee pudding.
JC Newman The American Review
As with all of our cigar reviews, both Paul and I smoked a few each from the box. In total, I have actually smoked around five. Meanwhile, Paul has the remainder of the box and has also tried The American in the Torpedo vitola.
As a result, we should be able to provide a well-rounded overview of the smoking experience it can provide by taking into account any anomalies.
- Draw: Some Resistance
- Aromas: Raisins, Oak, Molasses
With a quick snap of my Xikar MTX, which is one of our favourite cutters at Bespoke Unit, I gave the cold draw a try. I was happy to rediscover a similar molasses note from earlier with a more savoury character.
This was a very woody oak aroma as well as a distinctive raisin flavour identified by Paul that came as something as a surprise.
As for the draw, mine were occasionally on the tight side but nothing that was overly uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Paul didn’t seem to be having any particular issues.
1st Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Chocolate, Molasses, Cedar
I usually hate using cedar wood as a descriptor as it often comes across as quite lazy. However, it was quite hard to avoid it here given that is the most dominant note of the first third.
With a hint of what I would describe as mildly dark chocolate, I was delighted to again experience the molasses. Yet, on this occasion, it had a spicier profile as you would expect from gingerbread.
2nd Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Bergamot, Chocolate, Leather
Even well into the second third, the flavour profile remains relatively consistent save for a slight development in character. Indeed, the chocolate note persevered but seemed to be getting slightly darker with each draw.
Meanwhile, the cedar had more-or-less faded to instead reveal a thick leather note. That said, the most astonishing change was the nuance of citrus that could be picked out in the retrohale.
At first, I would have described this as something similar to grapefruit. However, the citrus would linger and gain a greater resemblance to the bergamot note of a tarry Earl Grey tea.
Final Third Smoking Experience
- Notes: Leather, Charred Oak, Dark Chocolate
By the final third, the fragrant note of bergamot had effectively subsided. Instead, The American revealed a mostly leathery and earthy profile.
This savoury experience featured some deep charred oak, which left a thick texture on the tongue.
As for the chocolate, it was still very much present.
However, it had evolved to embody a darker profile, which was somewhat reminiscent of cocoa nibs.
- Ash Backbone: Slight Resistance
- Burn Angle: Slightly Wavy
- Temperature: Warming
- Draw: Some Resistance
- Final Smoking Time: 120 Minutes
Firstly, The American produces a surprisingly delicate yet pale ash that would often drop off after about an inch. In terms of the burn, it was occasionally wavy but never needed much touching up.
As for the smoking temperature, I found it to be a little warm without becoming uncomfortable. However, this is likely due to the fact that we were smoking them at the height of summer. Unbelievably, yes, it can get quite hot in London!
While I initially had a few draw issues, these would almost always open up by the second third. Although I still found it a little tight, it never produced more resistance than was comfortable.
Finally, The American is a long and enduring smoke. Indeed, it took both Paul and I much longer than expected to finish, which actually made us late for some appointments later in the day!
Ideal Pairings With A JC Newman The American
As a 100% US-made cigar, let’s have fun and consider some American pairings to enjoy with the blend. Indeed, a peaty single malt from Islay would be an excellent accompaniment, but it only seems appropriate to consider some related pairings.
Firstly, this would be a cigar that I would thoroughly enjoy with a Root Beer. Paul prefers Diet Coke as his refreshing beverage of choice, which also works quite well. However, I’m very fond of the aromatic and herbal properties that a craft root beer can offer when enjoying a cigar.
Otherwise, you may want to consider a well-aged bourbon, which although won’t provide the same experience as a peated single malt, it will accord quite well. If you’re willing to travel around the continent, a dark rum would work too.
Finally, a deep and rich American filter coffee would be splendid with this cigar if you’re wanting to try it with a hot beverage. Usually, I’d opt for an espresso but I feel that the deep and savoury character of the cigar would be better extended by filter coffee.
After a fun little photo shoot in front of Buckingham Palace, Paul was kind enough to give me the box to take home. An elegant hommage to Americana, everything was made in the USA – including the hinges!
However, it’s far from garish with a stained top that’s decorated with a single sticker feature hallmarks of American culture. On the left is a seal and signature of approval.
I should note that there are two signatures. Firstly, a printed one of JC Newman. Meanwhile, the second from Drew Newman, his great-grandson, which seems to have been written by hand.
Included with the box is a small booklet that recounts JC Newman’s story and those who were involved with the creation of this blend.
Each farmer is given a biography and a portrait as well as the Miami-based box maker, Miguel Cabrera, Nick Cutro, who designed the moulds, and the artists and printers for the box and labels.
Speaking of the label, it exudes American pride with an almost regal presence. Rather than overdoing it, only a single band is used with the design that is found on the box. Indeed, it wouldn’t look out of place if the cigar was in a cabinet alongside a selection of heritage or pre-revolution Cubans.
Although a great cigar to socially enjoy with friends, this can also be something to reserve for special occasions. Given that it’s an enduring cigar that smokes for quite a while, it might be the ideal choice for special occasions as it’ll keep you occupied for the duration.
Whether this is an outdoor barbecue, when golfing, or even at a wedding, it’s both a reliable and enjoyable cigar for a variety of palates. Alternatively, this may be a cigar to bring out on the 4th of July if you’re feeling particularly patriotic!
Finally, I personally believe that the pricing for The American is quite reasonable and reflects the work gone into its creation. For singles, prices begin at $16 for the Robusto and will climb up to $19.50 for the Churchill.
Given that it’s the only cigar of its kind, there is little point of reference. However, it does provide you with good value for money with regards to both the experience and what it represents.
Being the first of its kind, JC Newman’s The American is a momentous release for the cigar industry. Not only does it prove that the USA can create its own cigars but it also demonstrates that America has the cigar culture to excel at it too.
Indeed, it is certainly worth taking the opportunity to try The American at least once given its cultural significance. In fact, I would argue that it would even be negligent of cigar enthusiasts not to try it.
That being said, I’m personally more partial to JC Newman’s Brick House Double Connecticut. However, this is an altogether different smoking experience and it would be unfair to compare the two.
"A rich expression of American savoir-faire. A robust cigar packed with rich and deep flavours, The American is a culturally significant release that is definitely worth sampling."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★
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