As part of its 125th anniversary celebration in 2020, J.C. Newman brought out a cigar for events that had been part of its portfolio for nearly a decade but was never a regular release: the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso.

To get to the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso, you have to go back to 1995 and when Stanford Newman wanted to celebrate J.C. Newman Cigar Co.’s 100th anniversary by releasing a new line of super premium cigars. He turned to Carlos Fuente Sr. with the idea of creating the best cigar in the world no matter how long it took or what it cost. That vision would go on to become the Diamond Crown line, which remains one of the company’s flagship lines.

It was also notable for something that is rarely seen in cigar lines, in that all of the cigars were to be the same ring gauge. Specifically, Newman wanted the Diamond Crown line to be made up of 54 ring gauge vitolas, a size chosen because it would allow six to seven leaves of tobacco to be combined, giving the cigar a rich, full and consistent flavor. It also is worth mentioning that 54 ring gauge cigars were considered quite large at the time.

While the 54 ring gauge tradition lives on to this day, the line has added two sizes that deviate from that directive. But six of the eight sizes in the Diamond Crown line still come in a 54 ring gauge vitola. Diamond Crown has also branched out to include the Diamond Crown Maduro, Diamond Crown MAXIMUS, Diamond Crown Julius Caesar and the Diamond Crown Black Diamond.

But despite four lines, there was no use of Cameroon tobacco in a regular production line, something that has been associated with J.C. Newman Cigar Co. since Stanford Newman brought the leaf to the U.S. following the Cuban embargo. But there was a Cameroon-wrapped version of the Diamond Crown line that existed in small quantities, made by the Fuentes and generally limited to the Newman family and those with whom they shared it. The cigar is a 6 3/4 x 54 double belicoso, a size that appears in the Diamond Crown, Diamond Crown Maduro and Diamond Crown MAXIMUS lines.

The cigar traces back to at least 2011 when it was part of a three-cigar sampler that also included a Diamond Crown Classic Double Belicoso and Julius Caeser Double Belicoso. It would return the following year and has been released around the holidays in subsequent years, yet never as a regular production release or in traditional cigar boxes.

As part of J.C. Newman’s 125th anniversary celebration in 2020, the cigar made a return, offered in a black coffin that was used as one of a number of sales incentives for J.C. Newman retail events. In particular, customers would receive one of the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso for buying any three of J.C. Newman’s Dominican-made cigars, meaning the Diamond Crown, Julius Caeser, MAXIMUS and Black Diamond lines at select in-store events. According to Drew Newman, the cigars were rolled in 2015, meaning that they came with five years of age on them when released for the anniversary events.

Here’s what I said about the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso (2020) when I reviewed it in June 2020:

Cameroon is one of those varietals of tobacco that shows up in a blend and immediately gets my attention. Not only is it fairly rarely seen, it is also incredibly flavorful and at least for my palate, enjoyable, which in turn means I want about as much of it as I can get, from start to finish. That’s where the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso (2020) came up a bit short. The first two thirds offer decent amounts of it, though there were enough spots where it felt like it was having to battle with the other notes in the blend to stand out. The final third saw the flavor almost completely disappear, and while what was left was enjoyable, it certainly didn’t come across as being a cigar that should bear the Cameroon name. I’m proud to admit that my expectations for Cameroon are high, and I think any cigar billed with a distinctive tobacco should deliver it in an unmistakable if not unapologetic way, which this didn’t quite do. I’d happily smoke another one as the flavors it does offer are very good, but I also know that there are others that do a bit better job delivering what I’m wanting.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso (2020)
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
  • Wrapper: Cameroon
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Undisclosed
  • Length: 6 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: Not for Sale
  • Release Date: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Coffins of 1 Cigar (3,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

*This is how many cigars were released in 2020.

The Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso has sat in a cellophane-wrapped coffin since I received the cigars, which was received probably in April or May 2020. Since it was in that coffin, I couldn’t see the actual cigar, but that’s not why I selected it for a redux. As with most of my reduxes, I selected this simply because of the time it has been since the original review. Opening up the black coffin reveals a cigar in cellophane with small, circular pieces of squishy gray foam padding the head and foot of the cigar from the coffin. The rich red color of the secondary band catches my attention first and probably leads me to think the color of the wrapper is a bit richer than it might be, but I will reserve judgment until it’s out of the cellophane. Once out of the cellophane, the wrapper leaf is browner than I was initially expecting and has a slight bit of variation in color, getting lighter around the veins, as well as some mottling in spots. I’m a bit surprised to see what looks like a water spot on the front of the cigar, about three-quarters of an inch beneath the secondary band. The cigar is rolled firmly and doesn’t appear to have any visual concerns. I have to give credit to the person who rolled the cigar, as the head is nearly immaculate in its construction. The aroma off the wrapper is dry and somewhat dusty, yet it seems determined to make me think of graham crackers. I’m a bit surprised that the foot doesn’t offer more aromas but instead turns the graham crackers into the more plain aroma of Barnum’s Animal Crackers. There’s a bit of thin creaminess behind that, but I’m hesitant to call the aroma creamy. The head manages to survive being clipped with my cigar scissors, though it’s clear the wrapper is a bit dry and fragile. Airflow is great, while flavor is mellow and just a bit sweet, like the last bites of an apple pie scraped out of the tin. Other than that, there’s not a lot of pepper or other distinctive flavors.

A good bit of damp, juicy wood and some light pepper start off the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso, making for a very enjoyable start. But the cigar really hits a sweet spot with its aroma, which has more of the apple as well as a light floral top note that absolutely sings in my nostrils. The flavor mellows a bit as the ash builds impressively to well over an inch, something I certainly wasn’t expecting to see from this or any cigar. After a bit of mellowing—which I’m wondering if the extended length of the ash might be affecting—the apple returns in a very subdued manner, followed by a building of dense cedar and an increasing tingle of flavor on my tongue. Creaminess begins to pick up as the burn line approaches the midway point, though the profile is still on the mild side. Retrohales have a surprising amount of white pepper as the burn line hits the midway point, and each exhale of smoke through the nose reveals a new aspect of the profile through the combination of the exhales and puffs. However, the more I retrohale, the less creaminess I get from the cigar and the drier each puff turns. Flavor intensity is mild if not retrohaling, but adding those in pushes it up to medium-minus, while body is closer to medium and strength is mild. The construction is fantastic, with a slightly firm draw, plenty of smoke, an even burn line and very durable ash.

As the cigar gets into its second half, the head of the cigar has started to split a little bit, something that has become more noticeable but that doesn’t seem to be affecting the experience outside of my lips feeling a little flap lift up on the occasional puff. Flavor-wise, the cigar is increasing its intensity with each puff, as the wood continues to dry out and gets a bit thinner than it had been earlier, as well as changing from cedar to a more generic lumber flavor. There’s also white pepper hitting my taste buds as well as my nostrils, which extends the finish of puffs, particularly when combined with retrohales. I could make the case for some peanut shells in the middle portion of the cigar, another flavor further adding to a very dry profile that has me thinking fondly about the creaminess from earlier. The dryness of the profile finally starts to recede as the final third of the cigar gets underway, as there’s a touch of apple beginning to return, along with a bit softer texture from the smoke, though it’s by no means turning creamy. I think the dryness of the cigar has started to take a toll on my throat, as while I don’t want to say that the cigar is becoming a bit irritating, the puffs do elicit a bit of a cough and more physical reaction. Thankfully some creaminess returns in earnest with about two inches left to go, which helps to soften the profile. This change lasts for only a few puffs before more white pepper comes into finish things out and imparts a much more pronounced and lasting tingle on the finish. The burn line struggles a bit in the second third and requires an occasional touch-up to help with both evenness and overall combustion, but otherwise, the cigar smokes quite well. Flavor finishes at medium-plus, body is medium and strength has crept into medium territory. The cigar takes a fairly lengthy three hours and 30 minutes to smoke, which is a huge increase over the average of two hours it took to smoke the three cigars for the original review.

87 Overall Score

After three years of rest, my biggest note about the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso is how the cigar has become much mellower in its first half and then comes alive rather quickly as it gets into its second half. The first half is more or less what I would expect from a cigar that has been sitting in my humidor for three years, mellower, more delicate and more nuanced. The second half is much more textured with white pepper and dry wood, and imparts a much more lasting impact with each puff. I'm not sure the time has necessarily helped the cigar, but I certainly don't think it has hurt it. After three years, the Diamond Crown Cameroon Double Belicoso elicits the same complaint that I had about it when I first smoked it, which is that it comes up a bit short in delivering what I think of as traditional Cameroon flavors. But that said, this is an enjoyable cigar that shows one way in which my favorite varietals of tobacco can change with age and rest, and just makes me wish I could have experienced this cigar when it was younger as I can only imagine what it had to offer.

Original Score (June 2020)
Redux Score (May 2023)
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Patrick Lagreid

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, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.