Cigar Reviews

Crowned Heads – J.D. Howard Reserve

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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.

 Crowned-Heads-6-Shooter-Sample

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.

 Crowned-Heads-6-Shooter-Sample

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.

Four Kicks

Four Kicks Mule Kick

Headley Grange

JD-Howard-Reserve-Fulll

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)

JD Howard Reserve (Bandl)

The Facts

Price: $8 – 9
Vitola: HR46
Size: 6 by 46
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan
Drink: Water
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes

Pre-light

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.

JD Howard Reserve

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.

JD Howard Reserve

First Third

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.

JD Howard Reserve

Middle Third

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.

JD Howard Reserve

Final Third

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.

JD Howard Reserve

Wrap-up

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.

JD Howard Reserve

Jeremy Hensley is a bean counter for a non-profit in El Paso, Texas. He is married to the most understanding wife (he still can’t figure out how she puts up with his cigar smoking hobby), and blessed with two beautiful children. When he is not acting like a kid, he enjoys everything outdoors, especially fishing with his dad in the Great Lakes. Also, he meets the criteria of being a Casa Fumando reviewer: being a hockey fan. Feel free to contact Jeremy anytime via email (jmhensley13[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/pdn_jdog

7 Comments

  1. jjo

    December 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Jeremy, I really enjoyed the Four Kicks, the Headley Grange not so much, surprisingly. I’m really looking forward to giving the JD Howard a try sometime.

    I hope that you and your family have a fantastic Christmas!

    • Jeremy Hensley

      December 24, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Jeff,

      While I enjoyed the Headley Grange, I thought the Four Kicks was a much better cigar. The JD Howard offers a completely different profile but I would say it is just as good as the Four Kicks. I would love to have a supply of both in the humidor. Merry Christmas to you and your family as well, and Happy New Year! God bless.

      Warm Regards,
      Jeremy

  2. Gene

    December 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Jeremy,

    I agree with you & jjo in regard to Four Kicks. My favorite being the Mule Kick. I purchased two boxes of the Drumsticks. Their profile not to my liking at all. I’m even considering selling my unopened box on E-bay. I did enjoy the JDH though. More so, with some age on it. Thanks for putting a name to what I couldn’t describe- “richness”, which evaded me when I smoked one a little faster.
    God Bless in the New Year.
    BOTL
    Gene
    P.S. Awaiting the Average Joe Top 10 !

    • Jeremy Hensley

      December 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Gene,

      What?!?!? You have an unopened box of Drumsticks? Let me know how much you are considering selling it for. Just won my Fantasy League so I have some extra money coming in. The JDH for the review had about two months rest on it. Based on the profile, the cigars seems that it would age very well….I will have to try it.

      Happy New Year!

      Warm Regards,
      Jeremy

      • Gene

        December 31, 2013 at 8:17 am

        Jeremy,
        I’ll give one another try to see how its aged. The unopened box is resting in my coolidor under humidification if you are still interested when I decide. Thanks
        Have a safe night
        gene

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