Crowned Heads – J.D. Howard Reserve
Back in October, Tony and I had opportunity to sit down with Wes Thornton of Crowned Heads at Fox Cigar Bar’s Foxtoberfest. He was kind enough to gift both of us a J.D. Howard Reserve, which we immediately lit up. At the time, it was only my second experience with the cigar. I thoroughly enjoyed the cigar but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just because we were smoking with a representative of Crowned Heads. Since, I have revisited the cigar several times and each time I am wowed by it. On top of the J.D. Howard Reserve, Wes Thornton provided the Casas Fumando crew a box of their 6 Shooter Sampler. Today, I will be checking out the J.D. Howard that came in the sampler.
The sampler contains two cigars from each of their regular production lines – Four Kicks, Headley Grange, and J.D. Howard Reserve. I love the presentation of the sampler and, for under $50, it is a great introduction to Crowned Head’s portfolio.
The J.D. Howard Reserve was released at this year’s IPCPR Trade Show and it is the company’s fourth release since 2011. Tony has reviewed the other offerings from Crowned Heads, which can be found below.
The J.D. Howard Reserve is produced at Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s factory, Tabacalera La Alianza S.A , in the Dominican Republic and is available in five vitolas: HR46 (6 by 46), HR48 (5 by 48), HR50 (5 1/2 by 50), HR52 (6 by 52) , and HR54 (5 by 54)
Price: $8 – 9
Size: 6 by 46
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes
The J.D. Howard wears a dark brown Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper that has a deep red hue with almost no oils visible to the eye. There are veins scattered down the bumpy leaf that has a very fine tooth, making this one rustic looking cigar. The J.D.H. is by no means the prettiest cigar I have ever seen, but, like I said in last week’s post, I love seeing the natural character of a leaf. Right above the band there is a minor crack on the wrapper. The wrapper is pungent with vinegar and manure aromas.
The fully packed foot has a rich chocolate aroma. The triple cap has been applied cleanly. Taking a shallow clip, I find a firm draw making a second cut necessary. Cutting a bit deeper, the draw is still firm but much more workable. The cold draw causes a slight spice tingle at the back of my throat and I note cinnamon, cedar, and rich chocolate flavors.
Upon lighting this 46 ring gauge cigar, I am immediately met with a blast of pepper that quickly subdues. The smoke feels thick with deep notes of red wine, oak, and cocoa when it first hits my palate. The finish shifts to a dry cedar, pencil shaving-like flavor. The dry cedar flavor is the flavor I most commonly associate with Brazilian tobacco. The intensity of the spice increases and decreases from one puff to the next. The pepper notes are on the brighter side, closer to a white pepper. The burn line is thick but right on, producing a layered salt and pepper ash. There is a richness to the smoke that I can’t put my finger on.
The draw remains firm as I burn my way into the second third, however, a decent amount of smoke is still being produced and I do not feel like I am missing out on any flavors. There is such depth to the flavors that I am having a hard time pinpointing all of the subtleties. The retrohale really shows off the pepper and I think I feel a sneeze coming on. A rich cinnamon and a bit of sweetness have entered the mix and the cedar remains at the core of the profile. The ash and burn are still exceptional. At the halfway point of the cigar, I am beginning to feel a slight nicotine kick.
The cocoa is developing into a sweeter, milk chocolate flavor that is similar to the silk chocolate pie at Village Inn. Additionally, some yeast or dough-like notes are bouncing in and out of the profile. I am finally coming to the small crack in the wrapper and, as far as I can tell, it did nothing to damper the experience. The woodsy notes can still be found but it is not the dry cedar from earlier. The woodsy notes are now creamier and richer. Down at the final inch and a half, a mineral flavor has arrived. The burn-line is still right on as I put the cigar down the final time.
Since Crowned Heads first released Four Kicks in 2011, I have been a huge fan of the company and their cigars. I have a lot of respect for the way Jon Huber and Mike Conder run the company with a focus on honesty and integrity. But at the end of the day, no matter how much I like or dislike a company it comes down to the product they put on the market. So it is a good thing this cigar delivered in all areas. The J.D. Howard Reserve offered a complex profile with a core of cedar and spice and several variations within the more subtle notes. The burn-line was even for the entire one hour and fifteen minutes producing a solid ash. The J.D.H. an exceptional cigar that I will be keeping a steady supply of in my humidor.