Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Size: 5 x 50
Price: $7.55 MSRP
Humidor Time: 4 weeks
Number of cigars smoked prior to review: 0
Today we take a look at the Crowned Heads Luminosa.
Thanks to Bryan Kinnaman for the cigars.
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A (E.P. Carrillo)
I had the good fortune of speaking to Jon Huber last night about the Luminosa and the cigar industry in general. He was in Nashville and I do believe I heard Minnie Pearl in the background.
First, about the Luminosa…I told Jon that my fave Connecticut blends are My Father Connecticut and New World Connecticut by AJ. He said he liked both of those as well but that the My Father was a heavier blend than the Luminosa and that the Luminosa probably finds itself as go between of both.
At the moment, only the Luminosa Robusto and Toro are available. The cigar will make its official debut at the 2017 IPCPR trade show this summer. At that time, Jon expects there to be a choice among 4 sizes. He kept his cards close to his chest on what they would be.
Basically, this is a soft release of the Luminosa…not all that different from his Las Mareas and the Headley Grange blends.
There is no official press release yet for the Luminosa which prompted me to seek Jon’s help in fleshing out some of the background.
I found some minor issues with the wrapper of the two sticks I have in my humidor. The wrapper is extremely delicate. Much like the Cameroon. Jon emphasized that the Ecuadorian Connie is not the heavier Connecticut used by Garcia and AJ.
So when it comes time for you to own your own, be gentle and give the blend a lot of love.
I told Jon I’m not a fan of mild/medium strength cigars because I find most not to have the flavor range of bolder blends. He told me preferred the stronger blends as well. But he wanted to work with E.P. Carrillo on producing a milder blend that was big in the flavor department. So I’m anxious to smoke my first one this morning.
Jon kept calling Carrillo “Ernie.” I call him Mr. Carrillo. They have had a great working relationship over the years and throughout the manufacturing process of Crowned Head Cigars. Just my feeling, but I don’t think Jon wants to work with anyone else.
We talked about cigar pricing. A subject that if you read me, is a sore point. I constantly rail against $25 cigars that don’t meet my definition of spectacular blends.
Lew Rothman told Jon, “Do you know the difference between a $5 cigar and a $20 cigar? $15.00”
Huber has managed to keep all of his blends affordable. He doesn’t do anything magical in the manufacturing. He keeps his margin low. Sell more cigars…make money. Sell a few expensive cigars…make only a little money. Jon is hyper aware of the pricing issue and how it affects cigar smokers’ ability to make their purchases.
The following was not discussed by Jon and me but I think there is an allegory here…
Being an engineer and having spent 40 years in commercial construction, I know about overhead and profit. In construction, it is mandated by a master contract passed from the owner to the general contractor to the sub-contractors.
OH & P is nominally 10% and 5%. No one can make money that way. So what do subs do? They inflate the fab hours. They inflate the cost of material. They inflate the cost of installation. This inflation occurs on change orders. In other words, work that was missed by the dumb ass architect during the design process. So the average OH & P became 20% and 40%. Manipulation was easy. I don’t know if I loved project managing more…or being a contract negotiator. Going to “friendly” war with a customer was fun.
Being low bidder is a whole different ball of wax. The only way to make money is get the work done cheaply. Beat the fab hours. Beat the material costs. Beat the install hours.
I don’t know the cigar industry. But it is an “industry.” Business is business. And business always finds a way to make money by hook or by crook. A few manufacturers I spoke to in the past got the same question about pricing from me. They all got very defensive. Jon was casual, straightforward, and candid about this subject. He had no qualms about discussing the root cause. I liked that. A real mensch.
The end result of buying a Crowned Head cigar is that you are paying a reasonable price point in which CH forgoes gouging the customer and, instead, goes with a low profit margin in the hopes of providing a cigar that never goes out of style. And, as a result…a loyal customer base.
Keep the customer satisfied is the smart way of doing business. Taking advantage of your customer is the wrong thing to do. Smokers have excellent memories. Screw them once and you’re dead in the water. Be ethical and forthright…You have a thriving business that everyone respects because of your honesty and ingenuity.
I find Jon’s openness about this very refreshing. Those manufacturers I spoke to have given me a bunch of BS about how the cost of everything is rising and therefore that $8 cigar becomes a $12 cigar. And, oh yes, the profit margin is high. Nothing worse than a manufacturer thinking that their customers are stupid. So, Jon, keep on what you are doing. Making excellent cigars for a reasonable margin. The formula for longtime success.
As we all know, the FDA is in the midst of fucking cigar smokers in the arse. Even more so, they are acting like a firing squad to the smaller manufacturers.
This country was built by cigar chomping manly men. Cigars are a mainstay of American life. Everyone’s hope is that the new administration will do something about the FDA. (I didn’t talk politics with Jon. I just added my 2¢.)
SIZES AND PRICING (MSRP):
Robusto 5 x 50 $7.55
Toro 6.5 x 52 $7.95
By the way, the name “Luminosa” translates to “Luminous.” Nice.
The wrapper is an oily, tawny/caramel hue. The stick is very toothy. It is solid without a single hard or soft spot…very evenly distributed. Seams are invisible.
Veins are plentiful but blend into the background of the wrapper’s color. The rounded triple cap is beautifully applied.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I smell luscious decadent caramel, creaminess, chocolate, cedar, espresso, vanilla, cinnamon, and cashews.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell black pepper, chocolate, caramel, cedar, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
The cold draw presents flavors of creaminess, black pepper, caramel, chocolate, cedar, cinnamon, and vanilla.
The draw is clean.
The Luminosa wastes no time and gets down to serious business: Creaminess, potent black pepper, chocolate, vanilla, buttery shortbread, a touch of coffee, caramel, and something fruity.
Holy shit this cigar is a total surprise. The flavor profile is so first-rate out of the gate, I can’t tell what strength the blend is pumping out.
The obligatory butter flavor appears that most Connecticut wrappers produce. But it adds to the big picture. Instead of being the only flavor; besides creaminess, this Connie uses each cog in the wheel to layer the flavors perfectly.
Strength is mild/medium.
I only found two small reviews of this cigar. Both downplayed the pepper aspect of the blend. I must disagree. I’m getting muy spiciness here and I love it. The Luminosa has only been out since mid-November and these reviews were written very soon after that. My buddy, Peter, got his as soon as they came out. So I believe I have a little more humi time that the reviewed cigars. Can make all the difference.
The Crowned Heads Luminosa has reached its first stage of complexity in the first ¾”. The finish is long. Transitions begin to foment.
And the char line is razor sharp after it erases the tiny bit of wrapper that dislodged.
I can say at this early stage that Jon Huber has a real winner here. He was right…of course…the Luminosa bridges the gap between the AJ Connie and the MF Connie. Just right.
For me, the strength is irrelevant. With a big, bold flavor profile, the cigar is a real joy to smoke. I could get used to this.
I haven’t used this term in a while because I used it too much in my earlier days…the Crowned Heads Luminosa is quickly becoming a flavor bomb.
Smoke time is 25 minutes.
Flavors meld…there is a nutty, chocolate nougat element. The caramel makes it a candy bar. Sweetness is amplified by the addition of honeysuckle, sweet tea, cherries, and a touch of raw peanuts. Jon created a monster. Or should I refer to him as Dr. Frankenhuber?
I am now questioning which of the three Connies I like the best. While not as heavy or robust as the My Father or New World, its delicacy of character, its huge expanse of flavors, and its increasing complexity makes it a contender. The best Connecticut I’ve smoked this year.
People always talk about a breakfast cigar with a cup of coffee. Not me. I start almost every day with a lunker full of strength and body. The Crowned Heads Luminosa might have been designed to fill this need but I would be happy to smoke it any time of the day. The flavors are so strong that it would be impossible to drown them out with a prior stronger cigar.
I cannot believe the price point on this quality blend. All hail Huber.
I just have to retrohale. (I stopped doing this because it burned my sinuses after decades of practicing it). It brings a strong dose of black pepper, caramel, creaminess, assorted sweets, and a heavy chocolate.
Jon is a sly old dog. In the time I spoke to him, he never emphasized the magic flavor profile of this blend. I believe he wanted me to experience it untainted by his opinion. Such a smart guy.
It seems every online store lucky enough to carry the non-official released cigar, the prices are all the same. A box of 20 is going for around $135.00. That brings the price down to $6.80 per stick. That’s just fucking nuts. I have a small cigar budget but maybe I can talk Charlotte into letting me go over budget and buy a box in January when we get our Social Security. (Hey. I paid my SS payments for over 50 years. If I’d rather buy cigars than eat, it’s my choice).
The Crowned Heads Luminosa is the deal of 2016. No shit.
Smoke time is 45 minutes.
I’m having such a good time, I slap on the Crossroads Guitar Concert from 2004. You can never have enough of Eric Clapton.
What would a top 25 cigar list be without a Crowned Heads blend on it?
The Luminosa is not a heavy cigar but smokes like one. Slow and steady as she goes.
The complexity of the flavor profile is outstanding but that finish…oh lawdy, lawdy…it is almost the best part of the blend…it just keeps on chooglin’ with no end in sight.
For a mere 30¢ more, you can scale up with the Toro. The Robusto is nice but I want more.
Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.
Here they are: Creaminess, black pepper, caramel, cocoa, assortment of nuts, nougat, honeysuckle, sweet tea, black cherries, vanilla, sweet cream butter, cedar, and coffee.
This is one killer Connie. And for only around $7.00. I’m screaming laughter. This can’t be right. Again, Huber is a real mensch. He could have easily charged more and no one would quibble. It’s that good.
I’m bobbing my head to the music from the Crossroads concert. Buddy Guy is masterful. He has his own club in Chicago. We lived there in ’05-’07. I played in a great blues band and we played some dates there. That was a real honor.
I shall continue to bob my head and tap my foot throughout the rest of this review.
As delicate as the Ecuadorian wrapper is, I’ve not needed a single touch up nor had a single issue with the fragility of the wrapper.
Strength moves into medium territory. It really doesn’t matter when a blend tastes the way the Luminosa does. Strength becomes some sort of invisible cloak that has little bearing on the appreciation of such masterful blending.
The Crowned Heads Luminosa has been a real delight. Huber struck gold. He set out to round out his line of blends with a milder cigar and he done good.
This Connie blend is going to turn a lot of heads. There are so few really excellent Connecticuts out there. This is one. So far, my favorite.
The expanse of flavors never ends. Each puff is better than the next.
Guess what my lovelies….no nicotine. Nice. I don’t have to drag myself across the floor trying to find a way to stand up.
The Crowned Heads Luminosa is available from your favorite big box online stores. At these price points, you have no excuse not to grab some.
Well done, Jon. And thanks for your input.
Final smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS