|Headley Grange by Crowned Heads|
Following the success of their debut line Four Kicks, Crowned Heads went to work on a follow-up. It was announced in March 2012 that their second line would be called Headley Grange. The name Four Kicks was in reference to a song by Kings of Leon. Like Four Kicks, Headley Grange also takes their cue from the music industry – named after a famed London Recording Studio. With the case of Headley Grange, a decision was made to do a limited run in a single vitola and release the full line in 2013. This initial release is known as the Estupendos and it was showcased by Crowned Heads at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. I recently had a chance to sample this cigar. While this cigar scores very well in a lot of areas, I ultimately did not find this flavor profile to fit my pallet.
For the Headley Grange, Crowned Heads once again teams up with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. and the Tabacalera La Alianza factory. Part of the inspiration for this cigar stemmed from the song “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zepplein, a band who recorded at the Headley Grange studio. The idea was to create a cigar smoking experience reflecting the heavy drumbeat at the beginning of that song.
Let’s take a closer look at the Headley Grange and see what this cigar experience is all about.
The Headley Grange contains Nicaraguan tobaccos surrounded by an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
As mentioned above, the Headley Grange is being launched in 2012 in a single frontmark called the Estupendos. The Estupendos is a 5 1/2 x 52 robusto. This will be followed by four other sizes that will be released in 2013. All of the vitolas have a “soft box-press” shape. I categorize a soft box-press as a cross between a rounded parejo and a full box-press.
Estupendos: 5 1/2 x 52 (2012)
Hermoso No. 4: 5 x 48 (2013)
Eminentes: 5 1/4 x 44 (2013)
Corona Gorda 5 5/8 x 46 (2013)
Dobles: 6 1/8 x 50 (2013)
This cigar assessment is based on the Estupendos vitola. There is no doubt the Headley Grange Estupendos is a visually attractive cigar. The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper has a brown bag color with a slight bit of oil to it. The cigar is virtually void of veins – although there are some wrapper seams that are visible. While the style of this box-press might be “soft” in terms of its shape, the Headley Grange is a well-packed box-press.
Like the Four Kicks, Crowned Kicks has opted for a simple design for the Headley Grange band. The color scheme for the band has a black, gold, and white color scheme. The front of the band has a large black colored circular field. On the field is the text “HEADLEY” in white font arranged in a curved fashion”. Below that is the text “GRANGE” – also in white font, but arranged straight. On the lower part of the field (and in a slightly smaller font size) is the text “REPUBLICA in gold font. Below that text is “DOMINICANA” also in gold font. The edges of the band has gold trim. There are some gold coin-styled designs that sit on the black background that goes toward the back of the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Headley Grange, I went with the usual straight cut into the triple cap of the cigar. It was then on to begin the pre-light draw. The dry draw yielded a combination of cedar spice, nut, and light cocoa flavors. Overall, I considered the pre-light draw to be satisfactory. At this point, I was ready to fire up the Headley Grange and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
Overall, I did find the Headley Grange delivered a complex flavor profile. While the Headley Grange had no shortage of flavors, this was a case when the flavors hit my tongue, it just wasn’t one that combination didn’t mesh with me.
The start to the Headley Grange had a combination of cherry/citrus sweetness to start. This sweetness was joined by some floral notes in the forefront. There was some pepper present as a secondary note. In the background there were what I considered tertiary notes of caramel and cocoa As the cigar progressed through the early stages, the pepper became more prominent on the after-draw.
By the end of the first third, the caramel notes joined the floral and citrus notes in the forefront. The pepper notes did diminish somewhat. The flavor profile also simplified a bit as the cherry and cocoa notes had dissipated.
In the second half, the caramel and citrus notes took control as the primary notes. The pepper notes were still present on the after-draw and did increase again somewhat. The floral notes had diminished to more of a secondary note. This was the way the flavor profile remained as the cigar came to a close. The close to the cigar was not harsh or overly spicy. The nub was very good – it was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Although it didn’t wow me flavor-wise, as mentioned at the start, the Headley Grange did score well for a lot of attributes. From a burn standpoint, the Headley Grange does extremely well. It has a sharp burn line from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash produced was a tight, white-ash. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw was outstanding. This is is going to be a low maintenance cigar to puff on and it is going to be one to easily produce copious amounts of smoke on.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, the Headley Grange is not going to be overpowering to start. I assessed the Headley Grange to be a classic medium-strength smoke to start. By the end of the first third, there was an increase in the nicotine level and the Headley Grange moved to a medium to full strength cigar. It remained at this level for the remainder of the smoke.
Like the strength, the depth of the flavor notes of the Headley Grange started out medium-bodied as well. The body seemed to keep pace with the strength in the first half. It progressed to medium to full-bodied by the end of the first third. However, the body did continue to increase in the second half. It was around the midpoint of the Headley Grange where it progressed to full-bodied.
One issue I had with the original Four Kicks was that I felt it needed more strength to balance its deep flavors. The Headley Grange does a better job here. The strength and body balance each other nicely in the first half. In the second half, the body does have a slight edge over the strength.
As I mentioned at the start of this assessment, the Headley Grange scores well in a lot of areas, but the flavors just didn’t mesh well with me. Everyone’s flavor palate is different and when the tobaccos touch your tongue, everyone is going to have a different sensation on what the end result is. I think this is a cigar that can appeal to many cigar enthusiasts, but it is not one that really wow’d me. As for whether the cigar reminded me of the Led Zeppelin song, I can’t say it did from a flavor profile. However, from the amount of smoke produced, it did remind me of it. I still do look forward to the four frontmarks coming out in 2013.
Strength: Medium – progressing to medium to full by end of first third.
Body: Medium – progresses to full in second half
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Burners Cigars in Huntersville, NC.