Light on the outside, dark on the inside, with more history wrapped up in its tobacco leaves than one might expect, the Brick House Double Connecticut by J.C. Newman is quite the exceptional cigar.
Utilizing authentic USA-grown shade-grown tobacco crops from the Connecticut River Valley outside of Hartford, this blend relies upon 400 years of family farming to make its wrapper happen. As some of the first British settlers to grow tobacco crops, the Thrall family is widely considered to be one of the original sources of the modern cigar.
What began with a few crops in the 1640s, is now more than 10 generations deep, with the advent of the Connecticut Shade cheesecloth linen growing technique being attributed to the family's ingenuity. This exact same leaf is what you will find wrapped around the outside of this premium cigar blend, followed by a Connecticut Broadleaf binder from famed Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco specialist John Foster. A guy whose ancestors first pioneered the cultivation of this strain in the 1790s, and then passed it all down generation after generation.
But the story doesn't stop there, because there's a secondary binder inside straight from Nicaragua, followed by a trifecta of "new world" Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos from Aganorsa, Oliva, and Perez farms.
All blended together and rolled down in Nicaragua, the J.C. Newman "Brick House Double Connecticut" has gone on to become the best-selling cigar in 100 years for the J.C. Newman brand. So to see what all the fuss is about I decided to spark one up the other day, and allow my olfactory senses to explore some of the most time-honored tobacco in human history.
Notably veined, with seams jutting upward in areas, and tatters of scrap wrapper stuck to the cap, my sample stick looked more like a lame duck than a historic testament to the tobacco growers of the world. These were the only unlit issues I found with this blend though, as its American-born and bred Connecticut Shade wrapper felt soft, with the double binder bringing the bounce behind it.
Aromas are your expected dried hay and farm field ensemble, with a tangy touch of citrus and some toasted breadiness built inside. The foot is a sweeter sniffing sensation and strives to offer more than just the average Nicaraguan spice notes and earthy, sun-grown filler findings. This results in some buttered popcorn and a deeper, sweeter smell of creamed corn combining to craft a honey-coated corn pudding note.
Cold pulls are not prominently different than the descriptors just listed above, plus the tangy taste of buttermilk. With a tingle upon the tongue, it also likes to let you know that there is some white pepper-grade strength inside somewhere.
Spicier than anticipated, but not in a bad way, there's a good bit of action going on as I began to explore the combusted side of this cigar. There is some sweet corn flake to be had within this portion, along with a pitchfork full of hay, but there's not much more to it than these two and a sizable snort of white pepper spice.
Cooling its heels considerably, the first third swings in to send your taste buds a tantalizing treat of toasted marshmallow, salted butter, whole grain toast, and a second serving of popcorn.
The recognizable flavor of buttermilk biscuits soon gives way to a puffed rice taste, that when combined with some of the ingredients above, makes for quite the zippy little rice crispy treat note. Fortunately, this smoke errs on the side of dry at this moment, so it is far from being sticky sweet, but flavorful instead.
With the introduction of some rich cinnamon flavors, things become bolder, but also more melodic as you go. Stack all of those tastes from the first half on top, and you have a cigar flavor profile that has many of the tastes and aromas one finds in a gourmet cinnamon roll. None of that canned instant crap. But the traditional kind of cinnamon roll made with brown sugar and damn near 18 hours of prep and perspiration.
Throw in some darker Nicaraguan richness, and a touch of dried cedar shavings, and you have yourself one delectable center section. Sadly though, this sensation is short-lived, and before long things return to their original state from the first third. It's not that the first third was bad. It's just that the second third and the start to the final third of the cigar are so much more uniquely flavorful.
Definitely the most "meh" portion of the entire stick, parting puffs drops some dried char on the tasting table and then tells you to belly up. Personally, I did not enjoy the parting puffs on this blend, as they were just entirely too funky and imbalanced for my taste.
Additionally, the cigar band appears to have been overzealously glued, and since its gooey contents were all over the wrapper, anything south of the cigar band started to self-destruct.
Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw
Besides turning a bit tattered toward the tail end, the "Corona Larga" vitola that I reviewed was top-notch in this category. The draw was firm but not restrictive, the smoke was medium-grade in quantity, the ash was neatly formed and for the most part straight throughout, and there wasn't a stitch of heat to be felt on the mouth or fingertip.
As some of you might know, I am a sucker for a good cigar backstory and even more of a fan of family farms. So to have these two combined within a "new world meets old world" premium cigar blend is really enticing to me. But that's not what earns a cigar a stellar rating, it just makes it a bit more memorable or even admirable.
While the J.C. Newman Brick House Double CT did manage to slide above the 4.0-star threshold we have in place for cigar suggestions, it didn't get there without issue. Part of this was due to stupid shit, like there being entirely too much glue on the band, and that ruining the remainder of the final third's appearances and all of the parting puffs. Others were little oversights, like the stray pieces of wrapper scrap stuck to the cap and down one side of the wrapper.
But the biggest issue was how the center of this cigar, which to me was its high point in flavor and aroma, failed to formulate a finish that brought with it these characteristics. Those cinnamon roll notes were not only outstanding, but they were also about half an hour late to the fiesta. This resulted in a perfectly fine, but completely lukewarm, painfully familiar Connecticut Shade first third.
But the cigar's smashing construction and burn, overall balance, smooth delivery, pleasant visual presentation, and outstanding backstory overcame these odds. This leads me to suggest that you try this cigar the next time that you are in the mood for something a hair on the milder side, served with a side of cinnamon rolls.
J.C. Newman "Brick House Double Connecticut"
Connecticut Shade (USA)
Connecticut Broadleaf (USA)
6 ¼" x 46 "Corona Larga"
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