Review: Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats

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J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has a history of participating in charitable causes by making special, limited edition cigars to raise money for those causes. They have an even longer history however of making cigars.

As their site states they are “America’s oldest family-owned premium cigar makers” dating back to 1895 when Julius Caeser Newman started rolling cigars in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1954 he moved his company down to Tampa, Florida where they setup shop at the Regensburg cigar factory in Ybor City. In the 1980’s the Newman and Fuente families began a working relationship and in 1995 Stanford J. Newman and Carlos Fuente, Sr. worked together to blend and relaunch the Diamond Crown cigar line in celebration of the company’s 100 year anniversary.

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In 2001, the Newman and Fuente families again joined forces but instead of creating a cigar, they created a charity called the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. In 2003 the foundation started a yearly fundraiser event called Toast Across America. If you purchased a ticket to the event you got a coffin of two cigars – a Fuente Fuente Opus X Figurado and a Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Figurado.

In 2009 the Newman family again delved into a charitable cause. Using the same aged tobaccos as the Stanford’s 90th Diamond Crown Maximus, they called it the Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats. Part of the profits from the sale of these cigars were to be donated to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund.

Here is what their site has to say about the organization:

The GGAF’s mission is to assist dire need retired NFL players who were pioneers of the game and who have greatly contributed to the NFL’s status as the most popular sport in America. GGAF provides hands-on assistance to help retired players and their families deal with hardships they face after football. The services include medical assistance, transportation costs for medical evaluations and surgeries, housing assistance, financial assistance for utilities, medication, and coordination of services for food, automotive payments and childcare.


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Now you know the background, so let’s get to the review.

Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
  • Wrapper: Cameroon
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: Stanford’s 90th blend
  • Size: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Churchill
  • MSRP: $16.00 (Boxes of 20, $320.00)
  • Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Cigars Released: 700 Boxes of 20 Cigars (14,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 1

 

The Cameroon wrapper is a mottled light brown color. It doesn’t seem delicate and in fact feels quite durable if not thick, but is stretched over the binder to where you can see the binder’s details pretty easy. There are some noticeable, but not overly large, veins and the wrapper seam is noticeable as well. The wrapper is soft to the touch and when squeezed the cigar has a mostly firm feel with a few soft spots that might be problematic for the burn. Off the wrapper the aroma is a mild and sweet barnyard aroma. Predraw brings mild, sweet tobacco notes with a borderline loose draw.

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The first third of the Diamond Crown starts out with bitter cedar notes and a few hints of coffee. Luckily the bitterness dissipates quickly and is replaced with some nice, creamy cedar notes with hints of leather in the background. As expected with the soft spots, I get a tunnel that starts midway through this third of the Gridiron Greats. It evens out after about half an inch and a quick touch-up with my lighter gets everything back on track. While the light gray ash is a little flakey, it holds on to a little over an inch.

Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats 2

Continuing on the second third of the cigar is some of the same, but the flavors are getting more mild as it goes on and is getting less creamy. I’m guessing the aged tobacco used in the cigar was ready to smoke when it was released, not a few years down the road. Overall it’s a bit earthy, with a few cedar notes thrown in and just the barest hint of cinnamon.

Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats 3

As the cigar wraps up in the final third, it’s mostly just harsh bitter notes. I spent the last ten minutes of the cigar just trying to pull out any notes I could, however it just needs to be put down and allowed to go out with what little dignity it has left.

Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats 4

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Final Notes:

  • Brooks reviewed the Standford’s 90th Diamond Crown MAXIMUS when it had four years of age on it. With the same aged tobacco being used in the Gridiron Greats, six years down the road it seems to have mellowed out too much losing most of its desired characteristics.
  • While a very limited release, these still seem to be in stock at various retailers online, perhaps it’s the price.
  • For each box sold, $15 is donated to the GGAF.
  • Gridiron refers to football, which is present on the band:
    Diamond Crown Gridiron Greats Bands
  • As recently as this past March, Diamond Crown held a charity event at Indy Cigar Bar and raised $7,000 for the GGAF.
  • You can read more about the GGAF and how to help on their site.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes.


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The Bottom Line: While I’m sure the aged tobacco used in the cigar was better when it was rolled, this limited edition Diamond Crown just falls short now. With a very one dimensional flavor profile that doesn’t develop through most of the cigar and ending on a very harsh note, this cigar appears to be past its prime. I’m a sucker for good causes, and while I think this is a great charity, I think that you might be better off just donating half the cost of the cigar and buying something else to smoke. The price tag of $16.00 is definitely too much for this cigar and I’d even hesitate to buy it at half that price. If sheer curiosity gets the better of you just pick up a single and try it for yourself, I can’t suggest anything past that.


Final Score: 74

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Brian Burt
About the author

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010 I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion. Besides my cigar hobby and job in the IT industry, my wife and I love traveling, trying new restaurants and relaxing at home with our two dogs.

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