Review: Brick House

Full disclosure: I smoked a Brick House (Habano) previously and honestly, did not enjoy it. Actually, I don’t remember much. But looking back at my notes, it would appear I wasn’t impressed. Of course, I was with friends having a good time lubricated with Tequila and… Well, you get the picture. Thank goodness I didn’t completely turn my back as I believe every cigar deserves at least one more chance. A thoughtful and sober chance. So, while I was shopping at my local humidor, I saw a freshly opened box of Brick House Gordos (Mighty Mighty) and thought, this is a good time for a mulligan from the venerable and capable hands of J.C. Newman and Co. Eight dollars and change. No brainer. After some humi time, I decided it was time for some Brick House redemption. It was kind of a dreary, overcast Tuesday afternoon but I said to hell with it. After doing a poor imitation of a cinematographer trying to get cute with unique camera angles, it was just time to smoke.

 

Brick House has a cool history and is a brand the J.C. Newman Cigar Company named in honor of the founder’s family home in Hungary. Being the only brick structure in town, it featured a tavern on the bottom floor and sleeping quarters on the top, an arrangement many family-owned businesses throughout Europe employ to this day. The tavern was open to all in the village to gather and converse nightly while they ate, drank and smoked. My kind of place. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company began operations in 1895 then relocated to Florida in 1910. The Brick House brand was launched in 1937 as a Cuban puro and was a popular cigar until the embargo. After over 70 years, the 4th generation of Newmans relaunched the Brick House brand using only the finest Nicaraguan leaf, making it too, a puro. J.C. Newman is considered the oldest, family-owned cigar company in the US who also make the Diamond Crown, Quorum, Perla Del Mar and Cuesta-Rey brands, among many others.

BH99-1Relaunched in 2009, the Brick House is now made at Fabrica de Tabacos San Rafael S.A. in Nicaragua and it immediately turned heads. It was given a 92 rating by Cigar Aficionado in 2010 and named one of the top 25 cigars of that year. In 2016, it received a 93 rating and #17 cigar of the year honors. The Brick House comes in three wrappers: Maduro, Habano and the newly launched Connecticut. My particular gordo is a Habano-wrapped sight to behold. Gonna get a little cheesy, but the Commodores weren’t throwing their funk down over some chick – it was this stick! :0 Where’d ya think the “Mighty Mighty” came from? The construction of this cigar is flawless with a nice firm body from head to foot. The veiny and oily Subido wrapper gives the Brick House a rustic dark reddish-brown pigment which only adds to the “brick” consonance. The overall look and aroma from this cigar is, in a word, hearty. The wrapper itself exudes chocolate and cedar notes as does the foot but also with a hint of herbal tea. The cold draw was probably a gomish of distinct flavors, but it came across to me as molassess – semi-sweet, malty, chocolate, and woody.

BH99-2

 

  • Profile: Medium-Full
  • Vitola: Mighty Mighty [Gordo]
  • Length / Ring Gauge: 6.25″/ 60
  • Purchased: Local Humidor
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua Havana Subido
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler:  Nicaragua
  • Cutter: Xikar XO
  • Lighter: Colibri Firebird 3-jet
  • Price Range: $7 – $8

 

 

 

 

After getting this baby hot, the initial inhale is a hearty (there’s that word again) bit of molasses with moderate spice and a touch of cocoa with a nice toasty finish. The first third gets creamier after a few minutes with a stronger espresso profile but is nicely balanced with hints of hickory and graham cracker. I learned to not savor too long as she went out on me. This big girl likes be smoked. Of course, the damp conditions probably didn’t help much. After the relight, she did get a little earthy but then got back on course. The burn is near uniform and the char line is almost dead even.

 

BH99-3

 

Thankfully the rain stopped, at least long enough for me to snap the above photo. The transition into the 2nd third is my favorite part of this cigar. The body lightens a bit to reveal a rich nuttiness balanced with some earth. She’s up’d the ante in the spice department and added a touch of tangy cedar. She’s still burning awfully well and while the char line gets a little wonky at times, she seems to right herself. Ok, time to take cover as the rain starts to come down.

 

BH99-5

 

The transition to the final third is a kick in the pants with a fuller body and strength. She seems to get spicier by the minute. The cedar is more pronounced but is nicely offset by notes of caramel and light coffee on the finish. Very nice. Unfortunately, she starts to get a little chalky about half way into the final third, which was kind of a bummer. But I kept her lit and the she burned almost perfectly all the way down.

 

BH99-6

I’m happy to say this go ’round with the Brick House was a complete 180 from what little I remember of our last rendezvous. The construction of this cigar is top notch, the aesthetics are wonderful, and she feels great in my hand. No rain was going to spoil this afternoon delight. The flavors were great and well blended, they just didn’t hang around long enough. Ok, as long as I wanted them to. This scenario could be due to the size of the larger gordo. Keep in mind the  high-rated sticks were the smaller robustos. Its hard to knock a top-performing premium puro with this lineage that costs less than a couple of grande caramel macchiatos from Starbuck’s. Not easy to do, so value? Off the charts. Do yourself a favor, get a Brick House, put on some Commodores and…

Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now
Shake it down, shake it down now…In Fumo Pax!

 

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