TAMPA, Fla. - At J.C. Newman Cigar Company in Tampa, an expert roller crafts a cigar the same way workers did in this very factory when it was built in 1910, But a new cigar, called The American, is unlike any before it.
"This is the first cigar we know of that was totally made in America: the tobacco, the boxes, the labels, the cigar bands, the hinges on the box, everything," said Eric Newman, whose grandfather founded the company.
Its tobacco wrapper was made from the first big tobacco crop in Florida in a generation, from a 10-acre field in Clermont. Its long filler tobacco is from Pennsylvania.
"It's got a lot of flavor, full body, and spiciness," Newman said.
He and his son Drew are working with Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigars in Orlando, who is growing the tobacco in Clermont.
Newman said the last tobacco grown in Florida was in the 1970's in the Quincy area. A century ago, it was grown by Cuban immigrants in Ft. Meade for the more than 100 factories in Ybor City.
"Then handmade cigars were overtaken by machines in the 1930's and 40's, so maybe it's retro, what's old is new and what's new is old," Newman said.
The new American cigars cost $16 to $19 dollars a box. Cigar rollers in Tampa have been building inventory for nearly two years. Right now they're only rolling about 200 cigars a day, but Newman says production will likely increase.
The cigars are available at Davidoff Cigars in Tampa and Corona Cigars in Orlando.