J.C. Newman Cigar Company had a transformative year in 2019. While the brand has long been known for its ultra-premium offerings created by the venerable Fuente family in the Dominican Republic, and its Nicaraguan portfolio in recent years, 2019 saw the company turning back to its roots in America. J.C. Newman was founded by Julius Caeser Newman in 1895, with Newman rolling cigars in a barn behind his family’s home in Cleveland, Ohio. The company is now in its fourth generation, operating as the oldest family-owned premium cigarmakers in America.
Following years of planning, the Newmans’ vision for their company in the next era was brought to the surface. This began with a multi-staged renovation to the historic El Reloj factory, where the company has been headquartered since 1954. As the facility will celebrate its 110th anniversary in 2020 simultaneously with J.C. Newman’s 125th anniversary, the company embarked on an ambitious, multimillion-dollar endeavor. This included an overhauled shipping area for the company’s distribution operation, an update to the aging building’s infrastructure (ensuring El Reloj can withstand another 100 years while maintaining the building’s iconic integrity), and new areas intended for public visitors, such as an expanded museum, audio/visual experiences, and a boutique-style factory rolling floor. These updates have the potential to offer cigar hobbyists a peek behind the curtain, with interactive elements such as cigar blending and rolling—an experience formerly only available through excursions to cigar factories throughout the Caribbean. On a larger scale, the company’s efforts seek to reinvigorate Tampa’s historic Ybor City—the former cigar capitol of America—striving to normalize premium cigars in the eyes of Americans once more by exposing the care and craftsmanship of the trade firsthand.
But J.C. Newman didn’t stop there, as the company introduced one of the most talked-about cigars of 2019: The American. This cigar features tobaccos exclusively grown in the United States throughout every portion of the blend. In addition, the cigars use American band printing, cellophane, boxes, and more, being billed as the first 100-percent American cigar. J.C. Newman also debuted a limited-edition cigar for the Tobacconists’ Association of America (Brick House Ciento por Ciento) and a peculiar, head-turning project known as Yagua. Further cementing their praise-worthy year, J.C. Newman was among the loudest voices against unfair regulations aimed at premium cigars, including a lengthy testimony by Drew Newman at the U.S. Small Business Administration hearing in Washington D.C.
It’s an impressive resume coming from a company in its year prior to a milestone anniversary, giving us a strong feeling that the best is yet to come.