Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54
Today we take a look at the Crowned Heads Juárez.
Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
Released December 2018
According to Halfwheel.com (7-28-2019):
“For most of its existence, Crowned Heads has made cigars at two factories. Primarily at Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. in the Dominican Republic and also at My Father Cigars S.A.
“Drew Estate became the third factory, and late last year, the company added a fourth factory to the list in the form of Tabacalera Pichardo, which is tasked with producing a line of cigars called Juárez originally as an exclusive for Thompson Cigar Co.
“The challenge was put forth to us by Thompson Cigar Co. to create a value-conscious alternative to our Jericho Hill brand,” said Jon Huber, co-founder of Crowned Heads, in a press release. “We had been working behind the scenes with Tabacalera Pichardo in Estelí, Nicaragua on some blends since 2016, mostly just for fun, but as time passed and more and more samples were delivered, we became very impressed with the quality and felt there was certainly potential in working with that house.”
“Tabacalera Pichardo, previously known as Dhatuey Tobaccos, was founded in 2005 by Eradio Pichardo. Roberto Duran used the factory to make the Azan brand and it has produced a number of smaller brands over the years.
As for the name, it—like Jericho Hill—is inspired by Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues.” The Juárez part comes from, “made a good run, but I run too slow; they overtook me down in Juárez, Mexico.”
SIZES AND PRICING:
Juárez OBS 4.75 x 52 $5.95
Juárez Willy Lee 6 x 54 $6.95
Juárez Jack Brown 5 x 56 $7.95
This is a stout stick. Feels evenly distributed. In room light, a simple espresso colored matte finish wrapper. With exposure to a little sunlight, the wrapper appears mottled and oily. While it looks like it should be full of tooth, it isn’t…very smooth to the touch. Seams are invisible. Veins look small except for a couple big ones. The triple cap is beautifully applied.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
First off is barnyard; followed by dark chocolate, malt, black coffee, mixed nuts, cedar, a combo of red and black pepper, non-descript fruitiness, and dried fruit.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate covered malted milk balls, black coffee, black pepper, cedar, nuts galore, and an engaging tobacco-ness.
The resistance is clear and just the way I like it so I will save my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away for another time.
I’ve had this cigar for several months so I’m anxious to see how a Crowned Heads blend designed for mass consumption tastes.
A big blast of black pepper lighting up. My throat nearly closes up.
I take a few gulps of water to sooth the savage breast.
A very smoky stick…it bellows smoke like smokestack lightnin’.
Strength begins at medium/full. Uh-oh for me.
As my throat returns to its normal opening, I can taste a calmer group of flavors: very dark cocoa, malt, dried fruit, cedar, freshly baked bread, a little black licorice, and I like the mere taste of the tobacco.
A creamy chocolate pudding note arrives to smooth things out.
For $7, I’m impressed. It begins with ripping my throat out but goes all genteel on me a short ways in. Complexity is rearing its lovely head. Transitions are minimal…but trying hard. The finish is mélange of savory v. sweet that has a nice pleasing balance.
As usual, I smoked one too early and found none of the attributes I’ve just described. But for me, it is the only way I can determine…or guess… how much humi time the cigar will need before it wants to strut its stuff for me and show me the blender’s intent.
The strength calms down to a mellower, kinder and gentler, profile. Flavors begin to explore my palate and are doing a good job of it.
The balance is what impresses me the most at this juncture. For most good blends, balance doesn’t seem to really kick into gear until the 2nd third or even the second half.
I did the three ‘S’s before I sat down to write this review. The smoke is being shoveled out in huge plumes destroying any chance for my clean body and clothes to repel it.
If you want a signed photo of my clean body, send me $2 and some S&H Green Stamps via PayPal.
The chocolate is primed now for a leap. A solid creaminess finally arrives. Makes a huge difference in the profile. I like a cigar that can cream its jeans. That’s just me.
The complexity makes its move. Transitions kick into gear. A 54-ring gauge needs some real torching to get it lit. I believe I went overboard and, hence; the blast of black pepper that was overwhelming at first.
I checked all the usual auction sites and found not a single Juarez.
The cigar is turning out to be a solid choice for a go to stick. The price is right and the quality is tight.
Sweetness now makes its move. It reinforces the already steady as she goes balance.
The cigar improves with every minute smoked. Good sign.
The strength relents a bit and is a mellow medium/full. Probably due to its humidor time. I checked out a couple reviews and one thing stood out: It is a very strong cigar. Time will put things into check on that subject.
Fruitiness excels without any specific flavor above and beyond the others. It has a combo of summer fruit and melon juiciness.
The burn could be better. I need to restructure its goals every few minutes to keep it on track. Nothing terrible but must be attended to regularly.
As I no longer retrohale to save my sinuses from destruction, I was intrigued by Halfwheel’s description of that in this cigar: “Retrohales are equally as flavorful as they are bizarre: dijon mustard, floral, a bit of onion powder and some crushed peanuts.”
I don’t taste any of those flavors but I trust Halfwheel.
In a blink of the eye, the cigar’s strength is transformed from a mellow medium/full to a full tilt steam roller. I can feel it in my head and gut.
This is not a blend for newbies. Unless hallucinations in the last third of the cigar are your thing. This stick is for men and women with lots of hair on their chests.
Speaking of which, I remember as a young man bedding a nice girl with the longest nipple hair I’d ever seen. It was long enough to tie me up and restrain me. She thought it was cool. I thought I was humping a Springer Spaniel.
I like a lot of Crowned Heads’ blends. I believe it was a good marketing move by Jon Huber to blend an inexpensive stick that maintained the quality of the brand. I’m having a good time.
The complexity has washed away very distinct flavors now. It is making the transition from parts to the whole exceeding those parts.
Nicotine is now Mothra.
I do not taste the harshness reported in some reviews. I’m afraid that this blend will need all the patience you can spew. It really does need months of humi time. To me, this means that the aging process was minimal…just a guess.
Most big catalog brands are the same way. They get the bare minimum of aging before being brought to sale; and then it’s up to you to finish the job.
I would have loved to see this blend in a Corona Gorda size.
Balance and complexity are the motivating forces at play. Unfortunately, you don’t see many blends in this price range that provide this level of quality.
Oddly, the strength comes in waves. Just as I think I’m going to pass out, the blend relents. Same thing goes for the nicotine. One moment, I’m saying the Lord’s Prayer…and the next, all is well with the world.
Flavors return in singular fashion: creamy chocolate, café au lait, malt, extreme nuttiness, cedar, fresh fruit, dried fruit, a touch of citrus, licorice, baked bread, and black pepper.
The halfway point brings in some subtle nuances. The blend is in the sweet spot now.
Since I bought a new used car to replace the one totaled in Charlotte’s accident, I’ve gotten a slew of phone calls from car dealerships asking if I bought a car yet? I guess we can kiss real privacy good-bye. Hard to believe my checking account has only been hacked once.
Thin Mints appear out of the ether. I’m digging this cigar because it is on a mission to keep moving forward as it brings new things to the table to reinforce my enjoyment of the cigar.
It’s been a slow roll for this Toro. Methinks it will be a 2-hour endeavor.
There is a new caramel or butterscotch flavor. It gives the creaminess a leg up.
And now a strong peanut element appears. With the fruitiness and baked bread flavors, it is like smoking a PB&J.
Anyone watch the Grammys last week? This is a tough go for Boomers. No rock music. Except for the performance by Aerosmith…which was terrible. I’m pretty sure that Steven Tyler hit a couple notes in pitch…but otherwise, he was just yelling. And in the first tune, Joe Perry played a solo that was so full of clams, I can’t believe he wasn’t embarrassed. The band has become a parody of itself.
Once again, the blend calms down. Still full tilt strength but the ever-present balance is keeping everything in order.
This is an excellent cigar. But smoking it on an empty stomach is tough. I don’t recommend it.
And then the Juarez breaks free of its constraints…the depth of the blend is impressive.
I’m so glad that this is not one of my reviews where I have to yell, “Buy it now!” It is a regular production stick.
I’m going to be pretty wobbly by the time I finish. This is one potent cigar.
But I don’t want to put it down to save brain cells because the flavors are so nice that I don’t want to miss a thing.
The extended humi age this cigar has gotten has eradicated any harshness other reviewers reported.
I’m going to need a few minutes to walk this off.
And now for something completely different:
I had lost everything due to the Eddie Munster project in ’84, an embezzling partner at the recording studio, and Rocshire Records being shut down by the F.B.I. for embezzling. So, I got out of town by managing a very good four-piece band called “The Kind.” If I had a dollar for every band in the US that called itself that, I’d be a rich man.
The band (who was based in South Lake Tahoe) came down to SoCal where I met them. In fact, the leader was an old high school buddy. They had a great sound and did songs from Peter Gabriel to the Charlie Daniels Band. That’s because the leader played guitar and electric violin. Add a bass player of course. A good drummer. And a keys player that could get any sound he wanted out of that thing. And they sang like birds in harmony. So rare for a four-piece band to have the ability to all be lead vocalists.
So, a big prank, by the boys in the band, was planned. We had settled into our digs in Tahoe. A big house owned by the band leader’s wife’s parents. Big woodsy cabin with 4 bedrooms, big kitchen, spa, and surrounded by giant trees. The perfect place to smoke a doob while watching the sun go down.
I did a lot of hiking around the trails of Tahoe to keep busy. I was miserable. I had worked 15-hour days 7 days a week for years on my musical projects and now I didn’t know what to do with myself. I found the perfect perch that overlooked the giant lake. It took me a good hour to hike there and I never had to share the silence with anyone. I’d bring a notebook for things that came to my head; and a doob or two.
The band played out all the time, not just weekends. Very popular band.
This is where my future wife Charlotte comes in….
She ran the bar at one of the better clubs. This woman, I was told, had a master’s in psychology from Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt.
Her father was a well-known psychiatrist in Fulda, Germany. He had his own clinic for children with Down Syndrome.
Charlotte got married right out of college to a German cop. But a year later, he was killed in the line of duty.
She had too much empathy, it seems, and only did the psychology thing because she was pushed into it by her father’s bidding.
After her husband died, she chucked her education and became a flight attendant for Lufthansa. By the time she was 27 she got her green card and made the US her home.
I was already dating a bevy of beauties in Tahoe. No shortage of good-looking young women attracted by musicians.
Everyone in the band wanted to be matchmakers for me.
There we were…sitting in a booth downstairs where the band was to play that night. It looked like a cave and held about 300 people.
We were exhausted from humping the gear. So, we took a beer break. We sat in one of those huge half round booths that sits 8 or 9 people.
In walks Charlotte. She pushes the guys over to make room and sits down with us. Everyone yelled out her name. She liked The Kind and was glad to see them.
I was introduced. And boy, I was impressed.
I never held back that I was a Jew. But before the subject would come up, my band mates volunteered that for me. Charlotte said nothing and just casually took a puff from her cigarette looking very much like a 1930’s movie star.
Charlotte was not only a German but a Catholic as well. They thought this was very funny and wanted to see how I would react to this.
I discovered that Charlotte holds court wherever she is. This was not a shy, sweet, demure woman.
She cursed like a teamster. Every other phrase was: “What the fuck!” Except with her German accent, it came out like: “Wad da’ fock!”
I was told, later, that I sat there quietly with my jaw hanging open. Never heard a woman swear like that.
To this day, we argue about who asked who out but, really, she asked me out a few weeks later.
I had just met this nice Jewish princess who lived in the very upscale Carmel-by-the-Sea. She was rich, good looking… and rich. I had gone out with her and loved that she was rich. And a spoiled brat. But I was inebriated with Charlotte.
Back to the club…
After an hour, Charlotte split.
And the table broke out into laughter.
I had to break our first date because the band was going into the recording studio. And I was producing.
We got together a few days later and since she knew Tahoe, she took me out to a fancy Swiss restaurant serving great German food. Very expensive. She had to pay for everything as I was broke. The Eddie Munster project decimated me.
The Kind played out for around $500 a night. I got $100. And they played maybe 3-4 times per week. So, I was living on $300-$400 per week in 1984.
At dinner, Charlotte ordered a bottle of wine. I didn’t tell her I didn’t drink but I did so to impress her. I got so schnockered I could barely stand or see straight.
Afterwards, she took me to Harrah’s Casino on the north shore which is in Nevada.
The all black rock n roll band, The Bus Boys, was playing. I knew them. We had recorded in the same recording studio in West Hollywood for months. We even played on each other’s songs.
So here was my chance to impress her.
During their break, I grabbed her and went on stage to re-introduce myself.
They had no idea who I was.
I had to run by them a list of names until they said, “Oh yeah, we remember.” I think they were just being polite.
I was so embarrassed. I actually had jammed with them and done some recording on their tunes and they couldn’t remember me. Of course, they could have been high at the club and that might be the reason they didn’t remember me.
Yeah, that’s the reason. Sigh.
We stayed in Tahoe from May until September. I got bored living like a pauper and The Kind had begun to no longer interest me.
I convinced Charlotte to come back to Long Beach with me.
I was so bored with the band. They wouldn’t listen to me. I was their manager with light years more experience…So frustrating. So, I jettisoned them.
We packed up everything into my Nissan Maxima station wagon and headed south.
I swallowed my pride and asked my father for a job at his structural steel fab shop. I had my engineering degree so I was made a project manager. I was a structural engineer but never used those tools for design…so boring. Instead, I project managed big steel projects. More exciting than sitting in a room working on equations.
Charlotte and I were poor. We got a bachelor/studio apartment. You know…no bedroom.
And while we lived there, we got married on February 8, 1985.
We were so poor that we had our wedding in the clerk’s office in Indio, CA. My dad lived in Palm Springs, but we had to go to the county seat in Indio to get married by a justice of the peace. The office had a large window that stretched the entire length of the office. They were fresh out of courtrooms to do this in.
On the other side of the massive window was a line of people paying their traffic tickets….all watching. For our honeymoon, we stayed in a condo my dad owned in Palm Springs. And we were thrown a party. Pretty pathetic.
We had hoped to renew our vows and do it the right way but could never afford to do so.
So I don’t know who the last laugh was on; but that was 35 years ago next month.
Time really flies.
11 months after becoming betrothed, Charlotte gave birth to Katie. Our one and only child.
It’s been a long road. There have been ups and downs but it’s been a real marriage. Companions for life.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS