Yagua by J.C. Newman Cigars | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54 Toro
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $7.50

Today we take a look at the Yagua by J.C. Newman Cigars.
I bought my sticks from a local B&M. These aren’t easy to find. You will probably need to call around to your local cigar lounge. My shop had plenty. There are 16 cigar stores in the Milwaukee area that carry J.C. Newman blends. Check here to see where you can find a Newman retailer near you.

Know why I do this? I’ve always loved to write…since a kid. I love cigars and have an insatiable desire in trying something new. I can write. OK…well enough. But no other reviewer has inserted his personal life into the body of a cigar review like I have. While I believe I’m deeper than what I portray…close enough for jazz.

I planned from the beginning to write about my early life, rock n roll days stories; as well as some everyday shit…I have digitally described some entertaining true parts of my entire life. This is for my great, great, great, great grandchildren. How cool would it be if your grandkids, 100 years from now…could be smoking George Jetson cigars and drinking whiskey…and someone says, “How about we read a couple new stories from Gramps, connect ..let him tell us about his life playing rock n roll 100 years ago?”

Think about it. To be remembered by your descendants a century after you’re gone…wow….the legacy that says they didn’t invent gonzo in 2120 like every generation thinks.

I just lucked out in having a good cigar palate; so, I had a vehicle for my life in prose, in 3 acts.

I spent years trying to get my dad to allow me to record our talks about his life. He always said sure…but when I pushed for let’s do it now…nope.

My daughter has no one but me left from my side of the family. Same on her mother’s side.

Your tolerance of my behavior; while I’ve displayed consistent idiotic and brilliant “live” in the moment spewings…gave me the vehicle to be remembered. I’m fucking 70. You just start thinking about that shit around now. I hope my family someday reads this…and think I was a cool old dude that didn’t care what people thought of him.

Released: July 27, 2020
1,000 boxes of 20 released.
From J.C. Newman web site:
“At the J.C. Newman PENSA factory in Nicaragua, Drew Newman 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.”

If ever there was a gonzo looking cigar, this is it. My cigars have been squeezed into a pentagon shaped stick. 5 sides. Some are flat, some are wiggly, and none are the same width along the length of the cigar.

As you can see in my first photo, it appears two different blends are side by side. One wrapper is 10-40 black. The other has the orangish/caramel color of a Connecticut Broadleaf.

Veins look like a subway map for London. Seams are not tight. In fact, one came apart on me in two places while I took the photos. Thank goodness for PerfecRepair Cigar Glue from Dr. Rod. I can let it sit and dry and it’s good as new.
The cigar is a heavy mother. There is resistance to be had. Thankfully, not a rock-hard cigar.
And despite the Rocky Horror Show appearance, the wrapper is very smooth.

The aroma doesn’t punch you in the nads. Light notes of dark cocoa, floral, cinnamon, caramel, cream, cedar, barnyard, and black pepper.
The cold draw presents flavors of rich dark chocolate, black pepper, cream, vanilla, buttered popcorn, cedar, dates.

Even though I’m smoking a squished cigar, the draw is on the money. I put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool.

If you like cigars, then smell them before you light up. Wine connoisseurs do this. As well as premium liquor aficionados. Why not your cigar?

An oddball dirty earth element starts me off.
I believe the first puffs are just meant to clear the carburetor.

Flavors begin: Black pepper, a campfire woodiness, dates, oatmeal with cinnamon, plus a very savory note of steaks on the grill.

This is an every man for himself type of blend. Every palate is going to taste something different…so you can stop reading me now.

The whole cigar goes spongy on me making the draw difficult. I dry boxed the cigar for two days.
The cigars come without cellos. Allows them to breathe…a good thing. Shouldn’t need months of humi time. Besides, I feel this may just be a gimmick cigar.

Strength is already a potent medium.

All early sweetness is gone. Strictly black pepper, earthy, and nutty.

The stick goes out on me. And one of the seams looks like it is going to totally unravel at any time.
The burn sucks. Correction is the Sesame Street Word of the Day. Kids with their parents in jail know this word.

This is a strange duck of a blend. At $7.50, it certainly is not a premium blend. It just might need months of humi time for the cigar to settle down. Of course, by then, the cigars will be off the market so I’m doing the best I can to describe the infant stages of this cigar.

Saltiness appears. Some smokers really like this…I do not.

I’m surprised that Halfwheel reviewed this limited-edition cigar. They gave it an 89. And the writer experienced a lot of flavors I that I don’t. A comment was made that this blend is better than the Newman Brick House.

No complexity. No transitions. The finish is spicy with notes of bread, cedar, and meaty.

1-1/4” in and I detect improvement. Fingers crossed that the cigar is not linear in function; but rather, blossoms as the burn continues.

Another description caught my attention in the Halfwheel report. The taste of rice.
I have never tasted rice in a cigar blend. I’m hoping I get first contact.

The blend is beginning to become what I consider to be a typical Nicaraguan blend. There is some depth in play, but flavors are limited to the usual suspects.

I would have preferred JC Newman used better tobacco. The incessant black pepper is now annoying. I have no idea of the blender’s intent.

If you take a gander at the Newman web site, you will see they reviewed their own cigar. It’s basically saying what I am reporting but with a little more admiration…after all, it is on the manufacturer’s site.
As I near the end of the first third, I sense that blend might be smoothing out. The spiciness is not so overwhelming. The saltiness begins to dissipate.

The mummification of the cigars wrapped in coca leaves doesn’t do any favors for the triple cap. It completely jettisons itself from the cigar…leaving a gooey, unappealing look you don’t want to show off to anyone. It looks like already chewed chawin’ tobaccy.
The cigar goes out.

Upon relight, and a sip of water, a new set of flavors appear…very nutty, dates return, oatmeal cookies, grilled meat, cedar, the pepper is in abeyance, and a warm, crusty French baguette.

The cigar shows no restraint in going out on me. Either the cigar was poorly rolled to begin with…or the smashing pumpkins effect rearranged the innards.
There is a big fat cherry on the foot, but I can’t draw on it.
The cigar is so spongy that if I were not reviewing it, I’d stop and try again in 3 months.

I’m guessing from the two reviews I read, I’m reporting accurately the flavor profile; or lack of it. There is no complexity on the horizon. Transitions refuse to come out of the closet.

I use my PerfecDraw out of desperation and yank a big hunk of loose tobacco from the stick. The draw actually improves.
And the cigar goes out…

Strength is medium/full. And if I must keep relighting it, the strength is going to hit full tilt very soon.
The constant relighting is giving the saltiness a new platform and I’m guzzling water like a thirsty dog.

Limited editions with small production always provide two ways of analyzing it…first, is it limited because the tobacco used was in short supply? Or was it an experiment gone bad and they couldn’t pawn it off on Caldwell?

I’ve reviewed plenty of cigars at this price point that were fantastic. This is not a fantastic cigar.
Yet, with each relight, the cigar shows some promise. Just because this cigar comes naked doesn’t mean it doesn’t need some decent humidor time. I have no other explanation.
But after each time I write something, the cigar goes out. I’m talking about a minute or two.

I now realize I should have smoked a few of these prior to my review. But sometimes, you just make a decision and cross your fingers it was the right one.

The constant relights are letting loose the dogs of nicotine into my blood stream.

The rolling is not good and squishing them did not help. I must disagree with an esteemed colleague on this not being a gimmick cigar. There is probably a good reason you don’t have more cigars like this on the market. It is a roll of the dice. For all we know, Newman could have produced thousands of these cigars but only 1000 made the cut.

The halfway point is not producing improvements as I’d hoped.
I’m on my second bottle of water.

The process of leaving the wrapper ‘wet’ when the coca leaves are used as a bundle wrapper is probably causing this. I believe it is the reason for the dampness of the total cigar and the cause of the burn issue.

Maybe in a few months, the cigar will be ready for duty. It most definitely needs time to rid itself of the seemingly over humidified state of frustration.

I’m also guessing that both reviews online used better humi aging than the one I am smoking. Newman provided sticks to Halfwheel so who knows how long they had the cigar before reviewing it.
I wish more reviewers would discuss the aging time of their choice of cigars for review.

I’m experiencing a plain old linear blend. Nothing has really changed from the start.
After each relight, I get a hint of flavors that should be allowing some progression of the blend. I’m smoking a wet cigar.

The cigar felt fine prior to putting a torch to it. Now it feels like the insides have collapsed.
I snip off the messy, gooey cap in hopes it might give the cigar a chance to do better.
The cigar won’t draw. The foot is red with heat. I grab my other stick and it does feel perfect.

Never in thousands of reviews have I had this issue of a wet cigar.
If you’ve smoked this cigar, I’d love to hear your opinion.

The sponginess relents a tad and the cigar feels almost normal. Yet it keeps going out.
I’m either smoking this cigar too soon or I now know the reason for the reasonable price point.

I try another approach. I snip off a good-sized chunk of the foot…eliminating the burn.
I stare at the foot as I torch it. The center refuses to burn. And the surrounding tobacco goes out immediately.

As the pattern continues, I find the same thing over and over…I get some real flavor appearing out of the darkness.

If you are going to purchase these…or have some at home…let them dry out; and don’t be in a hurry to light one up. I suggest dry boxing them for several days.

Nothing is going to change. There is no point in continuing as I’ve already reached the one millionth time I’ve had to put torch to foot.

This might be a very good cigar. But my experience at this exact moment in time has caused deep frustration. I will let the other stick spend 3 months in my humidor and try it again. If it has improved greatly, I will revisit this review and report.


And now for something completely different:

Way back in 1973, I played with a drummer named John and a guitarist named Tim. We would jam at John’s house all day long. Smoking doobs and playing. Strictly woodshedding. This had an enormous positive effect on my chops. We recorded the entire time and would take breaks to listen.

John played out in a couple of country bands. I was a rock and roller. Country did not interest me.

One day, John invited me to come record with him at a small studio in Newport Beach, CA.
Only film nuts and old guys will remember this name: Chill Wills. He was a cowboy movie actor. And in just about every western made in the 1940’s and 1950’s. And almost always in every John Wayne movie. They were buddies.

I was star struck when I met Mr. Wills. His venture was strictly a vanity project. He got some good players together to record songs he had written on guitar. And they needed a bassist. I got the gig.
I was nervous but at the end of the night, Chill took me aside and told me, “You did good, kid.”

I was invited back once a week.

Now these fellas could drink. I mean really drink. Strictly whiskey. I’ve never been a drinker and disappointed everyone. But John always brought some weed and we all imbibed, including Chill.
This man looked exactly like he did in the movies: scruffy, unshaven and never combed his hair.
I did this for a year. And then I left for Europe.

But you would not believe the people I met while hanging with Chill Wills. All the cowboy movie stars of the time.
John Wayne even showed up a few times to sing with Chill. It was hilarious. Neither could hold a note. But they got drunk and they didn’t care.


I was never allowed to keep a cassette copy of what we played. Chill was adamant about that.

Wayne always showed up without his toupee. And I never got used to looking at him this way.
Once, Wayne invited all the musicians to board his yacht docked in Newport Beach. He bought a Navy mine sweeper and converted it into the biggest yacht I had ever seen. This was one cool boat.

I met a lot of stars that night as Chill introduced me to everyone. They were polite but I was just a musician and therefore, beneath them…plus I was only 23-24.

On the last night we recorded in April 1974, Chill Wills gave me the biggest bear hug. He wished me well on my journey to Europe. And we both shed a couple of tears.

I never saw him again. But it was certainly one of those once in a lifetime experience.

The only bummer about the experience is that this big group of good ol’ boys were bigots and racists. Hollywood bigots. You know…the damn Jews run everything, and we hate them all. Wills knew immediately I was a Jew by my last name. John Wayne did too. But they got used to me because Wills liked me playing bass for him…and I was pretty low key. In fact, I was in shock most of the time being around these icons.

Sometimes we’d be sitting in the control booth and they would all be dissing the Jew film company owners, Jew agents, Jew managers, Jew accountants, etc. They completely forgot I was there, but I think they just didn’t give a shit if I heard it or not. I never said anything; though occasionally I did speak up when they started using the ‘K” word. They would laugh and knuckle me in the shoulder.

I was pretty affable at 23. And they recognized that and since I was there to play, not horn in on their clique, they accepted me…eventually. The Duke called me “Jew Boy” a couple times and I gave him the serious stink eye. He would erupt in laughter and of course, his own Cowboy Rat Pack would join in.
Of course, that was a different time and being politically correct was not in their nature.

Interesting note about John Wayne. Back in the day, the Orange County Airport was named John Wayne Airport. But the guy lived under one of the flight paths of the jets landing and taking off. He constantly complained to everyone that would listen. It pissed off all the pilots. So, the pilots stopped calling it John Wayne Airport and only referred to it as Orange County Airport. It stuck.

To give you an idea of how I appeared to these straight laced actors…might provide the reason I was considered a fucking Hippie.


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13 replies

  1. Phil, as long as you are writing I am going to be reading your reviews and rock and roll adventures.

    I have sent you cigars before and should send you more. Hopefully some that are new for you to review and some that are just good smokes for you to just enjoy…

    Take care my man!!

  2. Your review on this stick is spot on! It was like reading my own thoughts. I paused when you wrote gimmick because that is exactly what I posted on Instagram under a pic of this cigar. I love a good gimmick but this ain’t one. The Newmans got our money either way. I have one more that I’ll try in a year or two.

    Also glad to see you stay true to form and not measure your words. I know the Newmans are like family.

  3. Thank you, Arless.
    I figure I’ve got another 20 years in me. Ha! Imagine the commotion I will bring to cigar reviews when I’m 90!
    Someone will put a contract out on me.
    God help everyone.

  4. Thank you Keith…
    I needed to hear from someone that I’m not crazy…you know what I mean.
    Thanks again,

  5. Hello, Katman!!
    I am grateful that I had the pleasure of meeting you at Nice Ash!!!
    I appreciate your generous gift of a Robusto, Foundry Time Flies by AJ Fernandez!!!
    The cigar was fantastic! Thank You!!!
    P.S. I have just found the San Cristobal Revelation, my new favorite! You gave it a great review.

  6. Mr. Johnson,
    It was my pleasure.
    I am finding that I am missing one Foundry Time Flies I put some peyote in. Can’t find it.
    How are you feeling? I didn’t give it to you did I?

  7. Phil,
    That’s absolutely awesome!!! I am sooooo dumb and trusting that I never heeded any concerns and even had to look up Peyote to know the joke!!
    Thanks for your humor! I am awwwwwwwwwwwwesome!

  8. Hey Chris,
    This is me at a gig on peyote. (1972)

  9. Sweet!

  10. Hello, Phil!
    Hope you are feeling better!
    I am interested in a Humidor and wondered if you had any suggestions? Also, do you known anything about the Oshkosh Humidor Company? I am looking at their Humidor and Humidifier. I would appreciate any of your wisdom on the humidor subject.

  11. Hi Chris,
    I have not heerd of the Oshkosh company. I see problems. Their FB page only goes back to 2017 and no photos of humidors. Their web site no longer sells humidors; if they ever did…just that funky humidifier that has a bogus MSRP of $70 but can be had for $40. I found it on Amazon and only 13 reviews…all positive of course, which leads me to believe they are shills. But no price. Just a link back to Oshkosh.

    As far as humidors go, you didn’t say what size you are looking for. Remember that if a humidor is advertised as a 200 count, the reality is it might hold 100 cigars. Or 200 if the cigars are all petit coronas.
    All the online cigar stores sell humidors. Finding a style you want is not hard…but I would recommend you stay away from anything with glass on it or on the sides. Gaskets eventually leak and your humidor is useless. Stick with all wood.
    Make sure the cedar used is only Spanish cedar. Regular cedar will fuck up your cigars.

    Most people love the Boveda packets but depending on the size of your humidor, I find it takes more packets than Boveda advertises. And the packets can’t be laid on top of each other. Both sides need to have air flow.

    I use propylene glycol beads. Most smokers know them as Heartfelt Beads. Very expensive. But I find the best choice for humidification.
    Go to cigarpage.com and they sell bags of beads at a reasonable price and work every bit as well as the expensive ones. I’ve been using their beads for years. You dump a small amount in a little glass or plastic container and fill 2/3 with distilled water. I use a mix of distilled water and PG Solution that all online cigar stores sell.

    As far as a hygrometer goes, I swear by Zederkoff. It’s a square unit showing humidity and temp. I find them extremely accurate. Again, online stores sell them. If you are on a budget, go to cigarbid.com. They usually have them and you can get them cheap ($10-$15 each). I always put two in each humidor as a check and balance.

    So, good hunting and if you have anymore questions, you can ask again.
    All the best,

  12. Thank you very much for the input! Very thorough and helpful!!!!

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