J.C. Newman’s New School Is Pairing The Public With Master Rollers

One of my favorite stories in all of cigars is about a young immigrant in Ohio, no older than 19 or 20, who collected and pieced together old boards one day to construct a makeshift rolling table. He is said to have borrowed $50 for some tobacco and used that to begin fulfilling a 500 cigar order placed by the family grocer. The year was 1895, the young man was Julius Caeser Newman, and that was the day J.C. Newman Cigar Co. would be founded.

Fast forward to 1910 and J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory is built – El Reloj meaning “The Clock” after the existing structure’s iconic clocktower. Widely considered to be the largest cigar factory in the world when it was constructed, a finer factory may not have existed at the time. Quite far from that little makeshift table set up in a barn outside of his family’s house. Well over a century later, there is still no other factory like El Reloj. Using traditional handcrafted techniques and antique, hand-operated machines, the factory produces as many as 65,000 cigars a day.

Now, you can learn to roll cigars using the same tables and rolling stations that are used to roll The American and Angel Cuesta among others. Every other Friday, J.C. Newman hosts rolling classes for groups as large as 12 guests. Led and taught by Master Rollers over the course of about an hour and a half, everyone rolls 5 cigars which are then theirs to take home. To reserve a spot only costs $12.50 and attendees pay an additional $37.50 when they arrive at the factory – the cost of the raw materials being used for the class. Having recently hosted their second group of guests since beginning the classes on July 22nd, the third group’s class is already only about a week away!

El Reloj is open to the public on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  J.C. Newman notes that visitors are strongly encouraged to arrive before 3:00 p.m. when cigar rolling stops.  Visiting J.C. Newman’s cigar museum, theater, rolling room, and factory store is free.  Guided factory tours are available for a charge of $15 per adult and $12 per person for seniors, students, and veterans.