Headley Grange Black Dog | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Length: 6.125 x 50 Toro “Dobles”
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $9.45 ($8.50 from JR Cigars)

Today we take a look at the Headley Grange Black Dog.
This cigar was released almost a year ago and I found one single review. Uh-oh.
And it was Halfwheel who reviewed it…giving it a lowly 82.
Now my turn…

BACKGROUND:
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (E.P. Carrillo)
From Halfwheel.com:
“For this release, Crowned Heads returned to Led Zeppelin for inspiration, and in particular the album “Led Zeppelin IV,” which contains the song “When the Levee Breaks.” Also on that album is a song entitled “Black Dog,” which seems to fit with the dark Connecticut habano wrapper on the maduro version of the Headley Grange. Underneath, the Nicaraguan binder and filler remain the same as what’s used on the original.”
Note: It was initially a JR Cigars exclusive release but when you head to Google land, there are many other online stores that carry this blend and all at the same exact price.
I bought a 6 cigar sampler of both the original Headley Grange blend and the new Black Dog for $42.50…which brought the per stick price down to $7.00. That was several months ago.

DESCRIPTION:
The stick is so dark and mottled it appears to be dunked in 10-40.
There are a few long veins. Seams are nearly invisible. And the triple cap is a thing of beauty.

SIZES AND PRICES:
Dobles 6.125 x 50 $9.45
Estupendos 5.5 x 52, $9.25
Laguito No.6 6.5 x 56 $10.50

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell big bold essences of floral notes, caramel, espresso, a wallop of vanilla bean, chocolate covered cherry candy, malts, red pepper, a variety of dried fruit, cedar, and cinnamon.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell those decadent chocolate covered cherries, red pepper, malts, floral, vanilla, rich espresso, golden raisins, cedar, and cinnamon.

The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, malted milk balls, cedar, black pepper, vanilla, dried fruit, and licorice.

FIRST THIRD:
Right off the bat, I get an adult portion of black pepper. So strong, my nose begins to run. I noted in Halfwheel’s review, there was a mention of a lack of pepper. Maybe it’s just humidor time…I don’t know but I’m getting bombarded with strong spiciness.

The draw is a bit tight. Not much give to the stick when squeezed. Needs a penetration by my cigar poker. It helps a little but this cigar is so densely packed that it does little to create the Holland Tunnel.

Flavors emerge after a couple minutes: Chocolate, malt, cherries, cedar, creaminess, espresso, and steak spices.

The Headley Grange Black Dog starts off like any other Nicaraguan based blend. Nothing I haven’t tasted a million times before. Still, it is early and I detect some potential. We shall see if my gut instinct is right or full of shit…don’t fucking answer that.

Got our first snow of the season overnight. A whopping 2”. And it will be over by mid-morning. Just salt trucks; no snow plows at work. As it is a powdery snow, I could go downstairs and rollick and roll in it but then someone would have to dial 911 to get me up again.

The malt is nice. The chocolate is on the wane. In fact, flavors flatten out some giving me the cigar tease treatment. My palate has blue balls. I was expecting coitus and I think I’m getting a dry hump.
The char line is out of whack. And no matter how hard I try to correct it, the run continues on its own recognizance…starting to piss me off.
So I take my single torch pipe lighter and burn the shit out of the offensive condition.

So far, the Headley Grange Black Dog is proving why only Halfwheel had the cojones to review this blend. It is a mediocre conglomeration of crap leaves and incompetent blending. Shame on you Crowned Heads. You’re better than this.

I love the original Headley Grange and the Black Dog is more of a black turd.

Flavors are sputtering and spewing black smoke from its tail pipe trying to get going and move forward.
$9 for this? Ha. These will eventually be in the close out aisle very soon. I can see whining about a $2.50 stick but this baby is hiding behind its moniker trying to pass itself off as something special…it ain’t. It is way off the mark from being special.

Lovely. I still have 4” to go. (This is what I told Charlotte on our honeymoon. She wasn’t buying it…is it in? Is it in?).
C’mon. I gave the Headley Grange Black Dog almost 3 months of humi time. It should be popping a wheelie in my mouth.

I’m killing time as I wait for flavors to reappear. You know how a good cigar tastes a week after you buy it and can’t wait? That is exactly what the Black Dog is pulling.

The draw is getting worse like the tunnel I created is healing itself.
I try the cigar poker again and while it sails through the center of the stick, it doesn’t solve the too-much-tobacco problem.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time has been a laborious 30 minutes. Time has sloooowed down.

I have to hand it to Halfwheel for enduring the same Toro I’m smoking. I’m ready to put it down but there is always that hope in the back of one’s mind that there may be redemption approaching. Nah.
Clearly, the rollers were hired off the streets and told they would get a BJ from Angelina Jolie. Suckers.

Hay. More hay. Where is the bridge?

Back around 1971, I played a couple years with a great cover band called Homegrown. We were real mimics and could do anyone. But what we loved…and so did our audiences…was that we could play every Led Zep song recorded. Our singer did Plant like nobody’s business.

I remember only learning and struggling with one song…”Black Dog.” The guitarist and I sat in his apartment learning that bastard for hours. Listen to the main riff. The timing is all over the place with the drums playing in a different time signature but everyone ending on 4 at the end of the riff. It was like rubbing your tummy and tapping your head at the same time. I miss that band. Great fellas.
OK. Waiting on Headley Grange Black Dog to impress.

This photo is out of focus…just like the blend:

I’m not kidding. This is a dog turd of mammoth proportions.

Jon Huber will be really pissed off at me…again…for the 23rd time. But Jon, if you are going to collaborate with an online cigar store and you put your brand on that blend…make sure next time that it is a good cigar and don’t charge high premium prices for it. What a fucking rip off. The original Headley Grange stomps this wannabe blend into dust.

Trust me…I want this to be a good cigar. Do you think I want to write all this drek about a crap blend? No. I have better things to do with my life than shit on someone’s “labor of love.” Omit the part about labor. Omit, especially, the part about love.

I can’t wait to see if this cigar even deserves a rating. Halfwheel showed it was a mensch by at least giving this fire hydrant a hospitable 82. Very generous. Can I give it a 4?

Black pepper becomes a constant. And all those other earlier described flavors are sinking as if they are in quick sand. Gurgle, blurg, gag, choke…

Lovely. Something bitter arrives. Normally, bitter is a result of a green cigar, an under aged cigar, or you fucked your humidity tool by using outdated cigar juice or old gel beads…they can really fuck up all your good cigars in just days. In this case, the cause of the bitterness is plain ol’ spite.

Normally, I would shoot a halfway point photo. Not today. I use a camera, not a phone. And I have a little set up with lights and an expensive camera to accomplish this. It’s a lot of work. Waaah. Poor me.

The char line continues on its quest of infuriating me. I swear I caught the cigar smirking at me out of the corner of my eye. Yeah? Well, fuck you too!

Just give me something…please. A real flavor. Some character. Some complexity. A nice transition would be excellent. Finish? What finish?

The Luminosa made it to my top 25 cigars of 2016. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or inclination to compose the top 25 worst cigars of 2017.
I really want to chuck this cigar.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time must be 3 days by now. Does the cigar keep growing back? I will pay penance for my disrespect by planting a tree in Israel.

The bitterness disappears…thank goodness. It allows a sneak peek of some creaminess, malt, cedar, and strong black pepper. Not bad for a $9 cigar.

Know what this reminds me of? Sometimes readers dump their old cigars on me that are dried up and way past their expiration dates. They figure I won’t mind smoking shit…I’m that desperate living on Social Security. The Headley Grange Black Dog tastes exactly like a cigar trying to commit suicide.

Of course. Naturally. With most of the cigar gone, the blend finally shows me some potential. Now, Crowned Heads blends are New Breed blenders. Their cigars taste great with decent humi time but they are also very good with just a few weeks humidor time. I can’t imagine they chose to make the Black Dog an Old School blend requiring 9 months of humidor storage. It ain’t going to get better than my 3 month aged review stick.

The Black Dog is actually very pleasant with definitive flavors now. It expands on the creaminess, black pepper and malt with the help of chocolate, espresso, raisins, cinnamon, and cumin.

Experiencing the last half of a blend going Bozo crazy on you does not mean it just needed more humidor aging. No. It means the blend sucks.

Cinnamon reaches cinnamon toothpick status. My sinuses are clear and open.

My review pretty much follows all of Halfwheel’s impressions…but Halfwheel is more polite. I’m anything but polite. I’m the head asshole of reviewdom.

I’ve managed to drag this review to 1755 words. I will never get that back.
On the plus side, I cannot claim that the Black Dog is inconsistent. It has been one long one trick pony.
I thank God that I didn’t choose the 6.5 x 56 to review. I would have hanged myself by now.
In one fell swoop, the rug is pulled out from under this blend’s flavor profile. It retreats back to flavorless.
I’m done.

RATING: Ptooey!

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