Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Size: 5.5 x 54 Robusto Gordo
Today we take a look at the Crowned Heads Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019.
Released: December 2019
Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 12 Cigars
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
From Halfwheel.com (02/04/2020):
“In 2016, about three and a half years after Headley Grange debuted, Crowned Heads released a maduro version of the line as an exclusive to JR Cigar, dubbed the Black Dog, a name that shares its origins with the original line’s. Headley Grange was named for the studio in England where Led Zeppelin recorded “When the Levee Breaks,” which was the inspiration for the blend. In particular, Jon Huber wanted to create a cigar that tasted as distinctive as the opening drum beat of that song.
“So when it came time for the maduro version, Huber turned to the band’s album, Led Zeppelin IV, which contained the original song as well as another track called Black Dog, an appropriate title given the darker color of that cigar’s Connecticut habano maduro wrapper.
“Huber wasn’t done with the dog-themed names for Headley Grange line extensions, as in 2018 the Black Lab LE 2018 would debut, using the same blend as Black Dog but limited to just 1,500 boxes of 12 cigars, which came in a 6 x 52 toro vitola.
“In 2019, the Crowned Heads teamed returned with another limited edition for its Headley Grange line, and once again, named for a breed of dog: the Chamuco.
“The name comes from a breed of dog that is also referred to as a Mexican pit bull, which is a cross between an American pit bull and the extinct Mexican bulldog.
“Given its name origins, it should come as no surprise that the cigar uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, a replacement for the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper found on the regular production version of the Headley Grange line. Underneath that leaf is the normal blend though, meaning a binder and filler that both come from Nicaragua.”
Not a pretty cigar; as far as construction. Seams are clearly visible. The triple cap is sloppy. It is lumpy and bumpy. Slightly toothy. The wrapper is mottled with hues of dark brown in room light and a coppery/ginger/brown in sunlight.
The foot is closed. The box press is far from crisp and is nearly an oval.
The cigar is packed solid with a slight amount of resistance when squeezed.
A main cigar band, a secondary band, and a footer band complete the presentation.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Lovely, big notes of milk chocolate, malt, cedar, black pepper, floral, barnyard, espresso, dried fruit, a souciance of baking spices, subtle sweet elements, and a touch of nuttiness.
The cold draw presents flavors of potent black pepper, creaminess, milk chocolate, malt, cedar, baking spices, and just a hint of sweetness.
As packed as this stick is, the draw is spot on; therefore, I can put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool for another time.
I read one review of this cigar by Halfwheel and they eviscerated it. I’m hoping to have a better experience.
I left Charles Lim’s name off my thank you portion at the top because if the cigar is doo doo, I don’t want him to feel bad because he is my Yoda.
It starts off great. Complex from the first puff. Notes of black pepper, beautiful creaminess, milk chocolate, cedar, and a dozen flavors I can’t describe quite yet as they are in a state of elusiveness due to the early stage of its burn, baby, burn life.
The strength starts immediately at a pubic hair distance from medium/full.
Ah, but the curse of the box press burn is exhibited as it goes wonky on me. I really hate needing to constantly trim the burn…not only does it shorten the smoke, but it keeps torching the delicate wrapper which never helps taste.
I reviewed the original Headley Grange exactly 7 years ago and liked it. I wasn’t numerically rating cigars yet; but clearly it was a thumbs up review. In 2017, I reviewed the HG Black Dog and it got a numerical rating of “Ptooey.” Not good.
I’ve always felt that Crowned Heads is a mixed bag of reactions for me. I’ve enjoyed some of their blends but others…not so much. Their 2014 Las Calaveras was phenomenal but for the next 4 years, each new release left me wanting more. And then the 2019 version shows up and brings back the glory to the blend.
The Chamuco is very rich and satisfying at this early point. The finish is exotic as it coats my lips and teeth…like a delicious foodie paste your tongue wants to lick clean from your lips.
The burn has normalized for me…fingers crossed.
There is now a true balance between savory and sweet. A nice smoky oak and unintentional bourbon flavor is weaving in and out…There is a charred meaty brisket type element at play that is hyper subtle but adds a perfect note to the complexity.
Buttered biscuits show up out of nowhere. I do believe this is a first for my palate.
The sweet elements disrobe and appear naked in front of me: Chocolate covered raisins, chocolate malted milk balls, vanilla creaminess, café au lait, and a peanut and caramel Payday bar…also a first.
The spiciness that started out like a sledgehammer settles the fuck down and is now right in the mix with the other balanced components.
The strength relents and moves away from medium/full to medium. I can’t be sure if it is due to flavor profile reigning supreme over everything else…or the cigar is a tease.
If this keeps up, I am going to be extremely pleased with this smoke.
The cigar is either burning more quickly than I prefer or I’m losing time because I am truly enjoying the Chamuco.
Just before reaching the second third, the strength goes bat shit crazy and storms its way to full tilt. I can feel my nuts but my asshole? Nothing. I expect to lose sight, in at least one eye, very soon.
The cigar’s price point is fair and equitable. There is no mention of the aging of the tobacco in Crowned Head’s press release. But Huber found something, somewhere…that seems to be aged beautifully; hence the limited release. But any cigar that starts off with complex notes from the get-go is all right in my book. I despair cigars that need me to get to the second half before the blender’s intent kicks in.
I went the entire first third without the ash falling off…and without the need for me to lay on the floor, on my back, to smoke.
Actually, this is one of the mellowest full tilt strength cigars I’ve smoked. No nicotine yet. And I can now finally feel my naughty bits. No vision impairment.
The Stones are playing. Always been a fan. Back in 1966, I was attending my private 5 string banjo lesson from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member, John McEuen when Brian Jones of the Stones came into McCabe’s Music Store in Long Beach, Ca. He was with several other guys I did not recognize. He wanted a dulcimer. He bought several and that Appalachian sound ended up on several songs of that period. Pretty cool.
The complex nature of this blend continues on an upward trajectory. Better with each passing minute.
This baby is smooth as glass. Early reactions had me braced for an onslaught of detritus that comes from a balls to the wall blend…but it has been anything but. The balance of subtleties and nuances is on the money. The flavor profile is not overwhelming with one group pushing another to the side.
I’ve only had this cigar for less than a month but is behaving like a champ.
And considering how many limited-edition blends use that reason as a scapegoat for charging an arm and leg for their precious cargo is not present here. The price point is the same as a gazillion other boutique blends that are regular production. Good on ya’ Mr. Huber.
I dig a pony my dears. This is a wonderful blend. And I’m only approaching the second half…hopefully, no grid lock in its future.
Steve Winwood’s 1980 “While You See A Chance” is playing. I love that tune. I remember when it came out, I was entertaining a young lady at my house in Long Beach and that song put her in the mood. I owe you, Stevie.
Now, to get Charlotte in the mood, I must play German polkas and walk around in jack boots. Not diggin’ that.
Second half begins and its pure manna from the gods. What a fucking delicious cigar.
This proves how different our palates are…like fingerprints. Halfwheel didn’t care for it and smoked 3 sticks to get there. I have no explanation why our opinions differ. It doesn’t matter. I do feel bad for them as I am finding this to be an enjoyable blend.
Not a lick of harshness as described by Halfwheel. Odd. I wonder if they got early batches that were too green? Dunno.
Flavors…where do I begin?
Galloping notes of milk chocolate, creaminess, spiciness, raisins, malt, buttery, gingerbread, café au lait, cedar, peanuts turn to black walnuts, caramel, and smoky meatiness.
My first sip of water and my palate is painted with a dozen subtleties. The whole becomes greater than its parts. This is a high premium.
My part time gig at Prime Cigar in Brookfield, WI is turning out to be a pure dream. Its all about the timing. And this was the right time in my life to make the move. I’m having a ball and only stealing half of the money I collect. Shhhh….
And one of the big perks working there is discussions with patrons of all age about music. I miss that since I don’t play out any longer. Too old to lug bass gear around. And I can see in these guys’ eyes that they enjoy talking music over sports. I’m a bad influence, I guess.
The burn looks pretty good:
The strength is a full throttle powerhouse. Yet, I have no issues with my bodily functions. The blend is so smooth that it is flipping the bird to the sometimes overwhelming velocity a full-strength cigar brings to the table. Very nice.
And then, out of nowhere, some harshness appears just as described in Halfwheel’s review. It nearly smothers the flavor profile into submission.
Still time for the blend to redeem itself.
Zap. Just like that, the whole profile changes. WTF?
I am going to stop writing and give the cigar a chance to re-group.
For the first time in 10 years of reviewing, I had to take a pooper break.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this.
There is something wrong with me.
But the cigar got a chance to rest for a few minutes and I need to re-light…fingers crossed.
The harshness is completely gone. Wow. It returns to its glory moments.
So there, my dear readers, you now have the tool to fix a harsh cigar…take a dump.
All is well with the world again. The complexity is flourishing like a $20 hooker that inherits her grandma’s dough.
Temporary harshness aside, this is a great cigar. Best of the Headley Grange releases.
The sweetness gets a nice acidic and tart element…a touch of lemon zest, Sauerbraten, brown sugar, and buttery plantains.
Over the years, I’ve had countless smokers tell me that they just don’t recognize all the flavors a good cigar brings to the forefront. I tell them over and over that the same way you get to Carnegie Hall…practice, practice, practice. Read reviews like mine or your favorite reviewer and smoke along. Try to dissect everything. Now, of course, the great majority of smokers have never read a single cigar review in their lives…which leaves them at a disadvantage. If you are lucky, you have a natural great palate. But to learn, you must be taught. I read that in a fortune cookie. The takings are there for those that want to make the leap from $5 sticks to the more expensive ones.
Not a lick of nicotine. Thank you, baby Jesus.
I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life; which makes me sensitive to Vitamin N.
Of course, I used to inject crystal meth directly into my optic nerve. Had to use a lot of Visine back then. But I couldn’t hold the bottle still and ended up squirting it at the person next to me.
This has been anything but linear. The complexity, transitions, finish, balance and nuances are shining like Jack Nicholson.
With 1500 boxes on the market, and the price being reasonable, I’m unsure how long the Crowned Heads Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019 will be around. And the lack of reviews may prolong its on the shelf life.
I highly recommend snagging at least a fiver.
And now for something completely different:
This is an anecdote I published several years ago. A little reminiscence from the late 1980’s while Charlotte and I still lived in California. Fullerton, I believe.
I was maybe 38. We had a two-year-old daughter. And I was working for my dad who didn’t pay me shit as a structural steel project manager at his own shop in Orange, Ca.
Anyway, I worked three jobs to make ends meet. Charlotte stayed at home to be with Katie. I was in total agreement.
We had a neighbor who had a 4-year-old boy that was a living terror. You know the type. Mom never says no. Let him be who he is. Arrghh.
She talked us into babysitting him one night when she said she was going out to dinner with co-workers. She didn’t show up til the next morning totally unapologetic.
We knew why she needed a night out without Beelzebub. This little boy just screamed non-stop for hours and hours. He ran around our small apartment knocking shit off the walls, off the tables, etc. He tried to break every one of Katie’s toys.
It was the first time in my life I thought euthanasia was a good idea.
Anyway, I got off track.
I worked my main job. I got work as a structural draftsman but not at home. I had to drive to the guy’s shop and work there.
And I was a Pinkerton security guard. Back in 1988, the money wasn’t bad: $10.00 an hour.
I turned out to be good at what I did because my I.Q. was more than 80 and so I got some decent posts that changed a lot as was needed. I never said no to a last-minute request.
My boss, who was younger than me, talked me into applying for a carry license. Back then it was crazy. You had to take the test and apply twice a year. It took 6 months to get approved, so you were always 6 months behind.
I got better gigs after I got to wear a .38 revolver. For $12 an hour. I had my own Taurus .38 that was a pretty good gun. But they gave me something made in the 1940’s. I felt like Barney Fife.
Then they wanted me to work in a bank on Saturdays. Something like 8am-2pm.
The bank was in downtown Fullerton.
A really boring gig. I just stood around and said hello to customers or sat at an empty desk and looked mean.
But patrons couldn’t see my gun if I sat down so I mainly walked around the bank with my chest stuck out.
Then it happened. Two banks of the same name got robbed nearby and they killed the guard immediately.
Charlotte told me I was no longer allowed to guard banks. I got her to concede just to finish the month up. She reluctantly agreed.
Sure as shit.
In came two guys in ski masks screaming and waving pistols.
I saw them as they were opening the door and I immediately hit the silent alarm.
They didn’t see me as I was on the opposite side of the bank. But 3 seconds later, they saw me.
I was behind a corner at the end of a hallway. Gun drawn.
I had my own .38 with 4” barrel at home and went shooting all the time. So, I wasn’t scared enough to shit my pants. I saw that they had pistols, not revolvers. Gulp. More bullets than me. I would have to reload much sooner.
We screamed at each other to put the guns down. Patrons and employees were on the floor. Women were crying too loud and the gunmen screamed at them to shut up.
No shots were fired. But I was ready.
It took less than 2 minutes for the cops to arrive. They stormed the entrance and shot the two fuckers dead with shotguns upon entrance.
I yelled who I was and I had a gun.
I threw the gun away from me; unloaded.
And I walked out with my hands up.
The bank manager immediately identified me to the cops so they left me alone.
I was stuck there all day while they did interviews.
Meanwhile, the bodies of the two bad guys lay there the whole time. The cops asked if I could identify them, so I walked up to take a look. I said no.
And then I spit on both of them and squeaked: “You mother fuckers! I have a family!”
One cop cracked up and asked me to spit again.
Needless to say, that was the last time I did a Pinkerton gig with a gun.
And I do believe it was the start of my back problems.
Two years later, we moved to Phoenix and went back to Pinkerton. This time I found myself guarding watermelons all night long. It was really hot and I wasn’t allowed to stay in the refrigerated warehouse with millions of watermelons.
So, I would make my rounds once an hour and grab a watermelon. I found a place I could hunker down and cracked the melon open with my knife. Since watermelons were plentiful, I only ate the meaty portion where there were no seeds.
I had no napkins and ended up having my duty shirt completely covered in watermelon juice. When the next guard showed up, he would ask what happened to me. I never responded.
That gig lasted about a week. No more guard work. I laid Barney Fife to rest.
More stories about Phoenix another time.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS