JC Newman

June 16, 2024

JOYA Cabinetta Lancero (7 x 38)





Video review HERE.


(Description provided by Drew Estate)

"At every cigar event, the question pops up: 'What about the Cabinetta Lancero?' We get it; there's a certain charm to the elegance and rich experience of a great Lancero, but let's face it – it's a niche favorite. So, 'by popular demand', here it is the Cabinetta Lancero Limited Edition for 2024… and trust us, it's better than ever!" - Juan Martínez

In 2016, Joya de Nicaragua's branding was getting a facelift. The "Cabinetta Serie" morphed into "JOYA Cabinetta" under the JOYA family, together with the likes of JOYA Red, JOYA Black, and the later addition, JOYA Silver. The aim was to cater to both the traditional and contemporary cigar smoker, satisfying cravings for flavorful yet not overpoweringly strong experiences. However, in the 2016 revamp, we waved goodbye to the Lancero. But good news – in 2024, it's back, albeit in a limited run of just 1,000 boxes globally.

JOYA Cabinetta is all about connections, seamlessly blending our rich heritage with modern innovation. It's a bridge from time-honored tradition to modern-day versatility, designed to delight cigar smokers across the spectrum. From the curious to the seasoned aficionado. This blend's magic lies in its milder binders and fillers, beautifully complemented by the spicy kick of its dual wrappers – a top-grade Ecuadorian Shade CT caressing its length, capped off with a Nicaraguan H. Criollo head for that extra richness. This unique combination ensures a creamy, silky, and smooth smoke, with a spicy twist in the final third.

"Forget the usual 'barber pole' cigars that are all about looks. This dual- wrapper approach is not just for show – it's a game-changer in flavor and aroma," explains Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, the mastermind behind the 2007 blend.

JOYA Cabinetta is globally available in three vitolas: Corona Gorda (5 1/4 x 46), Robusto (5 x 50) and Toro (6 x 52).

JOYA Cabinetta in the Lancero format was re-introduced at the PCA 2024 Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas this March as a Limited Edition. The MSRP will be $9.95 a cigar and $199 a Box. Its return in this much-loved vitola is set to stir up excitement among lancero enthusiasts and JDN devotees alike. 


The cigar is nicely made with the 2 different wrappers and has an average feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was a bit firm but I decided to go with it. The initial flavors at light up were pear, brown sugar, and black coffee with hints of sweet cream. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2 to 8. Nice start.



At the first third (20 minutes) there are more pear notes and they are sweet. There is also brown sugar and a little underlying sweet cream. The black coffee is now earthy. The finish is pear with very good lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied. The cigar is fairly balanced. I rated the first third 94.




As I moved through the second third (41 minutes) the only thing that changed is the earthy black coffee rose and the nice sweet notes decreased a little. The cigar is still medium bodied. The finish is unchanged. I rated the second third 93.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 12 minutes. In this section the criollo wrapper came into play and the burn of the cigar slowed significantly. The cigar is also quite rich. There are light pear notes but a lot of rich brown sugar and a full bodied black coffee. The cigar is now medium to full bodied. The finish is light pear, rich brown sugar, and very good lingering black pepper. The cigar took off in the final third. I would love to have this cigar is an all Criollo wrapper. It would be great! I rated the final third 95. These are back for a limited time so be sure to grab a few.




Overall Score: 94

June 15, 2024

Viaje Birthday Blend Collector’s Edition Criollo 2024 (6 1/4 x 54)






Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Halfwheel.com website)

One month ago, Viaje announced that it would once again celebrate company founder Andre Farkas’ birthday with a new installment of its Birthday Blend Release. In particular, a 6 1/2 x 54 torpedo that earned the cigar the company’s Collector’s Edition tag, identifying it as a one-and-done release.

Yesterday, the company announced that it is keeping the celebration going with the Birthday Blend Collector’s Edition Criollo, which swaps out the Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper for a criollo 98 wrapper of undisclosed origin. Previous versions of the Birthday Blend have used a Nicaraguan criollo 98 wrapper.

It is also being released in a 6 1/2 x 54 torpedo vitola that is priced at $12.88 per cigar and $322 for a box of 25 cigars.


The cigar is nicely made and the wrapper is a medium to dark brown. It has a nice feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were lemon citrus, brown sugar, nutmeg, and leather. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. The flavors are very Viaje-like. Pretty good start.



At the first third (33 minutes) I still have lemon, brown sugar, and nutmeg but the leather is very high. Very high. I decided to smoke this cigar extremely slow to see if the flavors improve. So, at this point they are ok. The cigar is medium bodied. The finish is leather with good lingering black pepper. I rated the first third 91.




As I moved through the second third (1 hour 12 minutes) a surprising thing happened. The flavors actually improved. Going ultra slow has helped. In this third the lemon and brown sugar came out more, especially the brown sugar. The leather dropped back to a manageable amount. The cigar is still medium bodied. The finish is unchanged. I guess going ultra slow is the key to Viaje's. I mean, I always go slow but with this cigar I am going slow to the point it almost goes out. I rated the second third 93.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 48 minutes. The Maduro version had a time of 1 hour 30 minutes and I went slow on that one. So as you can see I really slowed down for this cigar. But the flavors went back to the way they were in the first third; lemon, brown sugar, and heavy leather. Big change from the second third. I can't remember a cigar that had the middle section as the best section. I rated the final third 91. This cigar was a bookend scored cigar; 91-93-91. Very different from most. But going ultra slow paid off. Coincidentally, this cigar has the same core as the maduro. I will revisit the Maduro and go just as slow to see if it also improves. But, if you're a Viaje fan you'll probably not go wrong with either.




Overall Score: 91.67

June 14, 2024

The Aged Side of Carenas – Altadis U.S.A. Launches the Newest Addition to the Awarded Saint Luis Rey Line – Saint Luis Rey Carenas Ultramar



The Saint Luis Rey Carenas line, first launched in 2021 and recipient of a spot on the coveted Cigar Aficionado Top 25 Cigars of the Year, is expanding with a new extra-aged blend – Saint Luis Rey Carenas Ultramar.

This latest offering from Altadis U.S.A. is a tribute to the early days of the cigar trade when sixteenth-century Spanish vessels traveled ‘ultramar,’ or overseas, from Puerto Carenas in the New World to Spain carrying tobacco leaves. The precious tobacco leaves, destined for the King of Spain, were stored in barrels in a clandestine part of the ship as a measure to keep the valuable commodity safe from pirates.



“The transport of tobacco in the ships destined for Spain from the New World, was the first known form of tobacco fermentation and aging” explains Gabe Diaz, Brand Manager for AUSA. “The original Saint Luis Rey Carenas parallels how the tobacco would have tasted in the New World… The Saint Luis Rey Carenas Ultramar represents the extra-aged tobacco that would have been smoked upon the shipment’s arrival in Spain.” Inspired by this colorful cigar history, Saint Luis Rey Carenas Ultramar is an extra-aged blend of tobaccos developed by the Grupo de Maestros of La Flor de Copan and is handmade in Honduras with premium Honduran and Nicaraguan filler and boasts an exquisite Nicaraguan wrapper and binder.



The Saint Luis Rey Carenas Ultramar box is stained deep blue to represent the rolling waves experienced by the merchants travelling the high seas in a risky adventure to deliver these prized goods to the Spanish King. The scene depicted on the beautiful box interior shows a ship navigating turbulent waters and the box insert includes the mapped route from Puerto Carenas to Sevilla, Spain. Ultramar…The Aged Side of Carenas.

The Saint Luis Rey Carenas Ultramar comes in the following four frontmarks:

Frontmark             Size            MSRP/Cigar

Corona                   45 x 5 5/8     $9.10

Robusto                 50 x 5          $9.64

Toro                      52 x 6          $9.75

Magnum                60 x 6         $10.69



June 13, 2024

Celebrating Stanford J. Newman's 108th birthday with special cigar



Eric, Bobby, and Drew Newman invite you to join them today as they light up 18-year-old cigars and share family stories in celebration of the 108th birthday of their father/grandfather, Stanford J. Newman. An inaugural member of Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar Hall of Fame, Stanford was a leader and innovator in the American cigar industry for more than 70 years. 

 In the underground cigar vault in J.C. Newman’s iconic El Reloj cigar factory in Tampa, Eric, Bobby, and Drew Newman light up Diamond Crown MAXIMUS Stanford’s 90th cigars.  These exquisite cigars were rolled in 2006 with tobaccos grown in the late 1990s and have been aging in the cigar fault since then.

 Please light your favorite J.C. Newman cigar, enjoy this special birthday video, and enter to win a special package from Eric, Bobby, and Drew containing two of these 18-year-old cigars. Click on the link below to watch and enter.

CELEBRATING STANFORD NEWMAN’S LEGACY: A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY SMOKE

June 12, 2024

PLASENCIA 1865 TO RELEASE THE ALMA DEL FUEGO OMETEPE EDICIÓN LIMITADA – TORPEDO 6 X 54



Plasencia 1865, a world-leading premium tobacco grower since 1865, announces the release of the Alma del Fuego Ometepe Edición Limitada. This blend is the first of its kind, as it is the only cigar that has a wrapper made with tobacco from Ometepe. This tobacco was named Hoja del Fuego by the Plasencia family. Only 1,000 boxes (that double as a luxury humidor) containing 20 cigars were created of this ultra-premium blend, which carries an MSRP of $100 per cigar. Each cigar is housed in a hand-blown glass tube. The Plasencia family drew inspiration for this blend from old indigenous mythology, surrounding the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua.

When two towering volcanos rose from the depths of Lake Nicaragua, the Island of Ometepe was born. Its name is derived from the ancient Nahuatl words “OME” (two) and “TEPETL” (mountain). The early indigenous natives considered Ometepe to be their promised land, and a sacred site that was home to the Gods. The Plasencia Alma del Fuego Ometepe Edición Limitada is dedicated to Ometepe, the promised land.

Néstor Andres Plasencia, fifth generation of the Plasencia family and board member stated: “This cigar is a remarkable work of art. Since 1865, we have nurtured and cultivated tobacco, and at last, we have successfully grown a wrapper of unparalleled beauty in Ometepe, Nicaragua. The island of Ometepe is of great significance to our family as it has been to the Indigenous peoples of this region. We celebrate this achievement with the Plasencia Alma del Fuego Ometepe Edición Limitada.”

MSRP: $100 per cigar, $2000 per 20 count boxes.

Available in a Torpedo 6X54.




June 11, 2024

Cohiba Riviera Lancero (7 x 38)





Video review HERE.


(Description provided by General Cigar)

Cohiba has welcomed its first Lancero.

The new size will be added to the brand’s ultra-premium Riviera collection, a six-region blend named after the lush San Andrés Tuxtla Valley where the cigar’s wrapper was cultivated. 

Cohiba Brand Ambassador Sean Williams said, “The Lancero is a sophisticated vitola, and it was with great intention that we chose to debut this format under the Riviera line. Cohiba Riviera embodies the brand’s style and substance in a way that is classically modern, and our resurgence of this classic size feels new and contemporary in its box pressed format, especially under the Riviera umbrella.”

The cigars are box-pressed and presented in regal purple boxes that contain 15 cigars. 

Cohiba Riviera Lancero (7” x 38); SRP per cigar $14.99

Handcrafted in Nicaragua at STG Estelí, Cohiba Riviera is a bold and balanced blend made with exceptional tobaccos from Nicaragua, with Honduran tobaccos grown exclusively for the collection. The cigar is made with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper that crowns a Honduran-grown Connecticut binder and features filler tobaccos including proprietary Honduran Jamastran and Honduran La Entrada, as well as Nicaraguan Condega and Nicaraguan Estelí. 

The medium-to-full bodied offering delivers an elegant smoking experience consisting of dark chocolate and espresso notes with a hint of leather and subtle cream on the finish. In addition to the soon-to-be-released Lancero frontmark, the blend is available in three sizes, including Cohiba Riviera Robusto (5” x 52); SRP per cigar $19.99; 20 cigars per box; Cohiba Riviera Toro (6.5” x 52); SRP per cigar $21.99; 20 cigars per box, and Cohiba Riviera Perfecto (6” x 60); SRP per cigar $23.99; 10 cigars per box.


The cigar is dark brown and has an average feel in the hand for a Lancero.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good with a touch of firmness. The initial flavors at light up were pear, apple, brown sugar, and chocolate. There was black pepper rated at 8. A very nice start.



At the first third (18 minutes) the flavors have boiled down to pear and brown sugar with chocolate. The cigar is very sweet. The black pepper is still at 8. The cigar is medium bodied but leaning toward medium to full bodied. The finish is chocolate with very good lingering black pepper. This is a tasty cigar. I rated the first third 96.




As I moved through the second third (42 minutes) I had black coffee at the base to go along with the chocolate. The pear and brown sugar are still the front end flavors and they are somewhat lighter due to the introduction of black coffee. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is black coffee with some chocolate and very good lingering black pepper. The cigar lost a little with the black coffee coming into the picture. I rated the second third 94.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 3 minutes. The black coffee inched up a little more. The pear and brown sugar are faint and there is still chocolate at the base. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is pear and chocolate with very good lingering black pepper. The cigar started out with a bang but couldn't hold it. I rated the final third 93. This is a good cigar. I rated the Robusto version in October, 2023 and it received a rating of 91.67. This is a better cigar. Smallbatchcigar.com has these in 3 packs for $45 and you can get 10% off with code tinytim. 




Overall Score: 94.33

June 09, 2024

CAO FASA Noche Toro (6 x 50)








Video review HERE.


(Description provided by General Cigar)

CAO is launching two new collections called CAO FASA Sol and CAO FASA Noche. The lines share the same blend yet offer unique smoking experiences due to their distinctive wrappers.

Ed Lahmann, senior brand manager explains, “We built CAO FASA on a versatile, nuanced blend that combines a Cameroon binder with fillers from the Dominican Republic and three Nicaraguan growing regions. From this foundation, we set out to highlight the importance of the wrapper on the overall experience of the cigar. CAO FASA Sol and CAO FASA Noche could not be more alike, yet they could not be more different. They’re literally like night and day, and still perfect for either occasion. This is what CAO is all about…taking our fans on a journey through the tobaccos we choose.”

CAO FASA Sol and FASA Noche will be available as full-time additions to the CAO portfolio. Both blends will be offered in a Toro (6 x 50; $6.99) and Gigante (6 x 60; 7.99) format, packed in 24-count boxes.

Today we look at the FASA Noche.

CAO FASA Noche is handcrafted at STG Esteli in Nicaragua where artisans crown the blend with a Connecticut-grown Broadleaf wrapper. Its effect on the blend is bold and transformative. The cigar has a medium-bodied and full-flavored profile, layered with nuances of molasses, white pepper, chili powder and dark roast coffee.


The cigar is nicely made and has an average feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were apple, citrus peel, brown sugar, dark chocolate, and espresso. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2 to 8. Nice start.



At the first third (25 minutes) the flavors are working very well together. The apple, citrus peel, and brown sugar give a nice sweetness and the dark chocolate and espresso make a solid base. The black pepper is still very good. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is espresso with very good lingering black pepper. I rated the first third 94.




As I moved through the second third (57 minutes) an interesting thing happened. I lost the apple and citrus peel. What's left is brown sugar, dark chocolate, and espresso. So, the cigar has sweetness but where did the apple and citrus peel go? The cigar is still medium to full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is not bad but I miss the apple and citrus peel. I rated the second third 92.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 16 minutes. This cigar burned a lot faster than the Sol. I got 18 less minutes out of this cigar than the Sol. But, in the final third I welcomed back the apple and citrus peel notes. They were accompanied by brown sugar, dark chocolate, and espresso. The cigar got back to something I really like. The cigar is now full bodied. The finish is dark chocolate and espresso with very good lingering black pepper. I rated the final third 94. Of the two, this cigar is better than the Sol and well worth trying with a nice price point.




Overall Score: 93.33

June 08, 2024

CAO FASA Sol Toro (6 x 50)








Video review HERE.


(Description provided by General Cigar)

CAO is launching two new collections called CAO FASA Sol and CAO FASA Noche. The lines share the same blend yet offer unique smoking experiences due to their distinctive wrappers.

Ed Lahmann, senior brand manager explains, “We built CAO FASA on a versatile, nuanced blend that combines a Cameroon binder with fillers from the Dominican Republic and three Nicaraguan growing regions. From this foundation, we set out to highlight the importance of the wrapper on the overall experience of the cigar. CAO FASA Sol and CAO FASA Noche could not be more alike, yet they could not be more different. They’re literally like night and day, and still perfect for either occasion. This is what CAO is all about…taking our fans on a journey through the tobaccos we choose.”

CAO FASA Sol and FASA Noche will be available as full-time additions to the CAO portfolio. Both blends will be offered in a Toro (6 x 50; $6.99) and Gigante (6 x 60; 7.99) format, packed in 24-count boxes.

Today we look at the FASA Sol.

CAO FASA Sol is handcrafted in Honduras at HATSA and features a Honduran Olancho San Agustin (OSA) wrapper. Blended to offer a seamless transition from start to finish, FASA Sol gradually increases in strength to a medium plus profile, as its nuances build from roasted almonds to five-spice and toast. This is a captivating smoke that engages from draw to retrohale.


The cigar is nicely made and has an average feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were a pear/apple combination, light brown sugar, and leathery black coffee. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. Pretty good start.



At the first third (34 minutes) the notes were the same but the leathery black coffee has risen a little. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is leathery black coffee with very good lingering black pepper. The cigar is not too bad. I rated the first third 92.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 4 minutes) the notes are still the same but the leathery black coffee has increased a little more. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The sweet notes are gradually decreasing and the leathery black coffee is gradually increasing. At this point I rated the cigar a 90. 




The cigar lasted 1 hour 34 minutes. In the final third the sweet notes bounced back. I had nice pear/apple notes with nice brown sugar. The leathery black coffee went back to a manageable amount. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is unchanged. I rated the final third 92. Not a bad cigar. Give it a try.




Overall Score: 91.33

June 07, 2024

AGANORSA LUNATIC FIRERACKER JOINS PRESTIGOUS LIST



This year’s annual United Cigar July Firecracker series will be the highly coveted Lunatic line by Aganorsa Leaf. This explosive release continues the tradition of excellence in craftsmanship and innovation that has become synonymous with the United Firecracker line and our nations’ independence.

The Lunatic Firecracker showcases the culmination of creativity and dedication from two powerhouses in the cigar industry. These limited-edition, 3 ½ x 50 cigars are produced at the Aganorsa Factory in Nicaragua.



Oliver Nivaud, Director of Operations for United Cigars stated, "The Lunatic Firecracker represents a beautiful partnership between United Cigars and Aganorsa Leaf. Let’s light up the skies this Fourth of July with the Lunatic Firecracker."

Each 20-count box of Lunatic Firecracker boasts an electric blend that reflects the commitment to quality and flavor that both United Cigars and Aganorsa Leaf are renowned for. The cigars use Aganorsa Leaf's proprietary Shade Grown Corojo Maduro wrapper, creating a visually stunning and flavorful experience for this full-bodied blend of all Aganorsa grown Corojo 99 and Criollo 98 from Jalapa and Esteli.



Terence Reilly, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, added, "The Lunatic Firecracker is a true celebration of the artistry and dedication that both United Cigars and Aganorsa Leaf bring to the industry. This limited edition is a winner with its unique blend and distinctive smoking experience."

The 2024 Limited Edition Lunatic Firecracker is set to land on retail shelves in June, in time for the 4th of July, offering cigar enthusiasts a rare opportunity to savor a one-of-a-kind smoking experience. Quantities are limited, with an MSRP set at

$150 per box.