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Last fall, J.C. Newman released a special collection of its Brick House in Germany, which included a new size of its Brick House Maduro.

Dubbed the Brick House 2018 German Reserve Sampler, the box includes 12 Brick House cigars, four each from the Natural, Maduro and Double Connecticut lines, all in 5 1/2 x 52 Short Torpedo vitolas. While the size is offered in the Natural and Double Connecticut blends, it was a new addition for the Maduro line.

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The set is offered at €96 ($111.38), or just about $9.28 per cigar. J.C. Newman limited the release to 250 boxes.

Each cigar has a German flag-inspired foot band that denotes it as an exclusive to the country.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Brick House Maduro Short Torpedo
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: J.C. Newman PENSA
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Arapiraca)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Short Torpedo
  • MSRP: €8 (Boxes of 12, €96)
  • Release Date: October 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 4 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

By far the most distinctive aspect of the Brick House Maduro Short Torpedo is the foot band, which is designed to look like the German flag and denotes this as part of the 2018 German Reserve. Besides that, the cigar looks like any other vitola in the line, sporting the standard Brick House band and secondary maduro band. The wrapper is a dark, chocolate brown with a rough texture, some prominent veins and occasionally visible seams. While the wrapper isn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen and looks a bit rough, the cigar doesn’t seem to be rolled with any issues, feeling and looking uniformly firm with a touch of give. One sample looks like it has a slight bulge in the middle, but I’m inclined to think my eyes are deceiving me. The foot of the cigar seems to want suggest a chocolate that would pair with the wrapper color, but struggles to develop either cocoa powder or Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup enough to fully step into the description. There is a bit of black pepper but it is mild until I sniff so hard I am almost forced to sneeze, while earth makes an occasional appearance by way of a combination with tree bark that reminds me a bit of a damp forest floor. The cold draw is smooth with air flow and offers a more cedar-forward flavor, though it’s a top note that glazes the core milk chocolate and pepper components.

I’m not sure how I was expecting the Brick House Maduro Short Torpedo, but it is definitely stronger, both by way of pepper and nicotine than I was expecting. I find myself lacking onto the small but building core of chocolate to balance things out, as well as for my familiarity with the flavor and relative preference for it. The cigar puts off a good amount of smoke in the first third, easily producing mouthfuls of smoke that has a softer texture than its flavor would suggest. The flavor holds fairly steady, occasionally picking up the smell of a nearby gas grill in use, but otherwise doesn’t do much evolving or deviation from the core flavors. The final puffs of the first third hold on to a mix of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and dry black pepper, an enjoyable combination that only needs a bit more depth to be truly exceptional. The draw, combustion and smoke production have all been quite good, though the burn line is a bit wavy.

The second third of the Brick House Maduro Short Torpedo has me noticing how quickly the cigar seems to be burning, taking just about 25 minutes to get to this point and then making fairly steady work of the tobacco in its way en route to the midway point. Flavors aren’t processing rapidly or markedly, but two of the three samples pick up a steadily building flavor of dry wood that does bite the front portion of the tongue, but definitely focuses on it more than the other parts of the mouth. While it doesn’t push the chocolate out of the profile, it does seem to coincide with diminishing amounts of it, a decline that starts just after the midway point and continues fairly linearly throughout the remainder of this portion.

The final third sees the chocolate continue to fade into the background, though the second sample does its darnedest to hold onto it as long as possible, and the cigar is all the better for it, as a more robust flavor is trying to push its way to the forefront. There is more of a mineral spin on the earth flavors, which when more prominent continues to give the tip of the tongue a stinging, almost pin-pricking sensation. The finish gets rough by way of sharp black pepper and some increasing char, quite a noticeably different finish from how the cigar started as the chocolate is completely gone. Thankfully the burn line, combustion and smoke production remain problem-free all the way down to the end of the cigar.

Final Notes

  • I know it’s been years since the original campaign, but J.C. Newman’s ads for the Brick House that proclaimed all you need is $5 and a comfortable chair still stick with me.
  • While they are still quite affordable, the $5 part is pretty much a thing of the past, unless you find an incredible deal on them.
  • Just about a year ago, J.C. Newman changed the name of the factory that produces the Brick House line from PENSA to J.C. Newman PENSA. For those wondering, the Brick House line used to be made at a different Nicaraguan factory not owned by J.C. Newman.

  • Editor’s Note: While the boxes looked very nice, the top lid piece came detached during shipping. — CM.
  • I didn’t find there to be a lot of nicotine strength from the Brick House Maduro Short Torpedo.
  • The Brick House brand is distributed in Germany by Arnold André. J.C. Newman actually has two German distributors, Kohlhase & Kopp and distributes the Diamond Crown brand, while Arnold André has the rest of the portfolio.
  • J.C. Newman advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
87 Overall Score

I've long maintained that the Brick House line is one of the best bang-for-you-buck cigars on the market, and I'd continue to make that claim after smoking three of the Brick House Maduro Short Torpedo. It's neither a perfect cigar, nor is it the most complex smoke you'll find out there. While a few portions of these samples got a bit rough on the front of the tongue, the majority of the cigar was very enjoyable with a balance between chocolate and earth, with a sprinkling of pepper to provide a bit of added flavor and physical sensation. While there aren't a lot of these out there—at least yet—there are plenty of the other sizes likely waiting to be enjoyed in a humidor near you.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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