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Cigar Review: Crowned Heads J.D. Howard Reserve HR52

3 Sep 2014

It was back in early 2010 when we first reported on the major deal that united Stockholm-based Swedish Match, parent company of General Cigar (Macanudo, Punch, La Gloria Cubana, Hoyo de Monterrey, Partagas, Cohiba), and the Denmark-based Scandinavian Tobacco Group (CAO, Toraño, Henri Wintermans). In the ensuing months, many CAO executives left, and the company moved from its home of Nashville to Richmond.

JDHRIn 2011, details began to emerge about Crowned Heads, a new cigar company formed by Jon Huber and other former CAO employees. The same cigar fans who bemoaned the loss of CAO (as they once knew it) were able to cheer for a new boutique startup. “Crowned Heads is influenced by a time when quality, pride, and integrity mattered,” reads the Nashville company’s website. “We strive to bring our vision to reality and invite you to live in our world.”

The Crowned Heads world revolves around a handful of distinct blends, with Four Kicks, Headley Grange, and J.D. Howard Reserve comprising the core. The latter was introduced at the 2013 industry convention in five vitolas: HR46 (6 x 46), HR48 (5 x 48), HR50 (5.6 x 50, figurado) HR52 (6 x 52), and HR54 (5 x 54).

Named for the alias outlaw Jesse James used when he lived in Nashville, J.D. Howard Reserve employs a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and Nicaraguan filler. It is intended to be medium- to full-bodied and made by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo at his Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

I purchased a five-pack of J.D. Howard Reserve HR52s for $48.50 ($9.70 per cigar). This toro-shaped vitola comes complete with an old-school band; a thick, moderately oily wrapper with a few prominent veins; and a well-crafted cap. A simple V-cut is all that’s needed to open up a smooth cold draw. The wrapper leaves a slight red pepper spice on the lips.

Once an even light is established, a savory taste of wood, meat, black pepper, and leather emerges. At times, a subtle sourness is present. And while I don’t typically think of sour flavors as particularly pleasing in cigars, in this case they’re subdued enough to not be a distraction. Throughout, the resting smoke boasts a pleasant nutty creaminess.

A sensation I can only describe as “mesquite” best exemplifies my overall impression of the rustic flavor. Not much changes from beginning to end, at least in my experience, save for an intensification of heat and spice in the final third. All the while the construction is outstanding, including a straight burn line and an ash that holds incredibly well.

To be frank, I am neither enamored nor disappointed with the J.D. Howard Reserve HR52. Though I will say the price point is a little high for my liking; I’d prefer to pay about $6-7 for a smoke of this caliber rather than the asking price, which is approaching the $10 mark. For me, it clocks in at three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

One Response to “Cigar Review: Crowned Heads J.D. Howard Reserve HR52”

  1. Wesley Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    This is my least favorite Crowned Heads cigar. It's not bad, but it's no Four Kicks or Headley Grange.