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Cigar Review

Four Kicks from Crowned Heads

At the age of 51, I have been enjoying cigars for 30 years, and in that time I have learned and come to the conclusion that, at least for me, to deliberate and judge a cigar for my
personal choice by setting it to five points. Those points are simply taste, aroma, construction, smoking character and appearance. These are purely simplistic but also very inclusive of a conglomeration of factors. I can honestly say that in the time span of thirty years, I have only seven written in the pages of notes taken through the years that contain the thoughts of a smoke filled mind that fit all five points. Assuredly there are numerous categories of cigars that fit three and four, but it’s a rarity that one comes to five, and here again that’s just personal choice. While these cigars will go un named for this article, sufficiently it is enough to say that four points are excellent smokes and many of them I enjoy often and are found in my humidors. That being stated to a point of over clarification, I am thrilled with the joyful ability to add number eight to that tally of rare totality as today’s review is on Crowned Heads first release, Four Kicks.

Four Kicks is the culmination/beginning of a journey by the people of Crowned Heads. With the creation and history of Crowned Heads well documented in various blogs, magazines and even Twitter, I will by pass the time it would take to restate what is already so well known, and simply give a brief abridged look back. Crowned Heads was formed by Jon Huber, Mike Conder, Michael Trebing, and Nancy Heathman, all formerly of CAO. The philosophy that is posted on their website is a remarkable statement that rings true to anyone of pure dedication and determination to personal ideals and dreams. It’s those emotions and thoughts that, in all reality, built the foundations of our country so long ago, people who had a personal vision and goals who would not let anything stand in their way, and worked hard to make those visions and goals reality. 

In an interview, I asked Jon Huber that with the four of them being well versed in the industry and well established, how much of a benefit do you think that will be once the cigar hits the market? 

Jon said, “I certainly think that we have benefited from having an established presence in the industry prior to Crowned Heads. That helped us get into some doors that may've otherwise been more difficult to get through. Will it help once 'Four Kicks' hits the shelves? I don't know--time will tell. I believe that the bottom line is the quality of the product; if the cigar is consistently very good, people will seek it out, buy it, and enjoy it. A 'name' or nice packaging can sell the first cigar or box, but it is the quality of the product that brings that customer back.” 

With the company underway, the supplier and manufacturer of the cigars were sought after, with many interviews, trips and discussions being carried out. To the joy of many, it was announced that Crowned Heads would partner with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, a man whose name is renowned in the industry. In the same interview, I asked Jon: 

You’re now partnered with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, who is a true legend in the cigar industry, and it will be rolled at Tabacalera La Alianza S.A., in Santiago, Dominican Republic. When the company was first an idea and then formed, did you already know or hoped who you would partner with? 

Jon replied, “Of course, you daydream about who you would love to be in charge of your production; it's kind of like drafting a fantasy football team. I will certainly say that EP Carrillo Cigar Co. was at the top of our 'draft board.' Now that it's a reality, I sometimes have to pinch myself when I think that Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is making a cigar for me/us. I mean, Ernesto hasn't made a cigar for anyone outside of himself or his family in over 40 years! I used to read about him and La Gloria Cubana during the cigar boom in the 1990's in the pages of Cigar Aficionado magazine. I was just a cigar geek who saved his dollars to buy a few cigars a week so I could add to my cigar journal. Back then, I had no idea that 15 years later I would be working with Ernesto on a cigar brand. Life's crazy.”

Weeks of testing, trips and blending were underway. Its easy for a new company seeking to come out with their first cigar to be tempted to release the first blend or say “this is good enough” just so they can have one on the market. Thankfully, the people at Crowned Heads not only post a philosophy but adhere to it as well. On their web site, Jon spoke of finding “The One”, the blend, the cigar that they new would be it and the four people at Crowned Heads sought after it diligently. 

I asked Jon that with so many samples tried, was there ever a point when you wondered when you will find it, the One you were looking for, or was it being elusive?

At which he answered, “I don't ever let doubts or negativity creep into my mind, GC. I knew in my heart we would find the right blend for Four Kicks. Every blend you reject just gets you one step closer to the final blend. For us, it was more of a case of being thorough about exhausting all possibilities that could potentially make the blend better. Once we found the 'core' blend, we fooled around with incorporating Dominican tobaccos, swapped out a leaf of Viso for Seco, tried different farms, different seeds, etc. When it was all said and done, we knew we'd done our job in finding 'the one.'“

As this article is being written, I am told that things are in high stride at Crowned Heads and the long awaited, anticipated and dreamed of release of Four Kicks is underway. With so much time and effort put into the first release, I asked Jon that, if you could have a goal or what you hope the cigar would say to people about itself and the company?

Jon Answered, “Well GC,....insofar as the cigar goes, I would hope that it finds an audience that enjoys what we've put together. Simple as that. As far as Crowned Heads--the company and the project--goes, I hope it shows people that you don't have to follow the corporate path and that you can stick to your guns, retain your integrity, and make your dreams come true.”

Personally I think the hopes and dreams of the great people at Crowned Heads are about to see the expectations not only met, but exceeded.

Four Kicks will be available in four sizes:

Corona Gorda (5 5/8” x 46) 
Robusto (5” x 50)
Sublime (6” x 54)
Piramide (6 1/8” x 52)

And its make up is as follows:

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic 
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano 
Binder: Nicaragua 
Filler: Nicaragua 

When I sat to write a review or rather my personal thoughts about the cigars, I selected the Sublime for the size to review, as it is my favorite size in this cigar. I have an office at my home where I keep numerous articles collected over the years including all my humidors and cigar paraphernalia. Going in my office, I closed the door behind me and turned on an old album of BB King, The Ultimate Collection. As “Three O’ Clock Blues” began to play, I sat at my desk with pen in hand and a very cold glass of southern sweet tea. After clipping the cigar, I rolled it in my hands looking at the artfully made creation. An oily wrapper housing a magnificent blend of tobaccos, whose construction when looked at closely, is as good as it gets with the slightest of veins. As I write this, remember I grew up on a working farm in the country, of which the sights and smells of days gone by still walk the halls of my thoughts. The pre lit aroma of the cigar brings back those memories, with melodies of fresh turned soil and rye grass that has been cut and drying in the field. Putting the torch to work, the taste of the smoke quickly makes its way through the shaft of the cigar to the palate, supplying flavors of spice somewhat like a spice blend that brings a slight zest to the palate yet not overbearing but complimenting other taste. Along with the spice came wood and earth. Now here’s a unique thing, the woodiness that I encountered at the start is like sassafras wood, like the kind, when I was a teenager, we would dig up from the corner of our fields and peel the bark off the roots to make sassafras tea. You could taste the woodiness but at the same time it carried a mild sweetness as well. Shortly the cigar began it paces as the complexity of the blend had already shown its talent, now providing a succulent mix of mild sassafras, earth and spice, and these being wonderfully wrapped in a velvety smooth smoke. “Rock Me Baby” was now coming from the speakers in my office, as smoke slowly began to form in mid air a thin cloud as more issued from the cigar. I leaned back in my chair and drew deep on the cigar, holding the smoke for a time and slowly letting it go, the flavors captivating the mind and causing the thoughts of the music and time to become as one in sweet contemplation. Sitting there I began to write my thoughts for this article and the cigars as “Sweet Little Angel” began to play. As I was completely enjoy the time, music and cigar, I came to the middle of the smoke which now graciously treated the oral factors with a luscious combination of still the sassafras but not as advanced as earlier, giving more space to the appearance of mild roasted coffee and earth with still spice being present. When I mentioned the coffee and spice, it is akin to taking a spice stick and stirring your coffee with it as some do at Christmas time, giving it a character of its own. Past the middle of the cigar, as if in the distance, touches of leather begin to appear giving advance notice of what may lay ahead. I set an empty humidor in front of me that I am customizing, for when bought it was plain, lacking any distinction and so a perfect opportunity to make it stand separate from the others in the room. Standing separate I believe will be one of the hallmarks of this cigar, as its profile is unique and although the people of Crowned Heads are well known, only the cigar can sell itself continually and this one I think will be quite adept at it. Moving to the close of the cigar, the leather now standing well in the mix yet not over powering the rest, blending perfectly with the spice and coffee which has now darker in roast flavor. Sadly I took the last puff of the cigar, wishing there were another inch or so left as it is a tantalizing smoking experience, gladly receiving in that draw, the culmination of the flavors as the smoke rolled in with a hint more spice. 

With the review concluded let me add an additional item for contemplation,

As individuals we think different, talk different, act different and have our own taste opinions. Stated above is what I taste and observe in my thoughts, and as an individual yours may differ. That’s one of the magnificent things about smoking cigars is variety and differences in opinion. Otherwise we would only have one cigar company and one cigar to choose from and how melancholy would that be. I purposely left my office and shut the door behind me and stayed away from it for an hour with out any air circulation to the room. I wanted to enter again after being away from the aroma to gain a fresh aspect of what had been smoked. After an hour, I opened the door and entered in; breathing deep of the air in the room and the aroma of the cigar still lingered and was an absolute indulgence to the senses of magnificent aromatic pleasure.

As I finish writing this article, I am looking at an old notebook I have, which in fresh ink is written “Five for five” by the number eight.

Four Kicks from Crowned Heads is truly a cigar that words alone can not describe the flavor you receive, so personal best advice is simple. Cut, light, puff and enjoy.