Brand: Crowned Heads Country: Dominican Republic
Size: HR52 6 x 52 Wrapper: Brazil Arapiraca
The Label Factor:
We were lucky enough to see a preview of the JD Howard Reserve label while talking to Jon Huber. However, the effect of seeing it on the cigar itself is completely different. There are subtle nods to Jesse James’s Nashville address, 711 – where Crowned Heads is based, as well as a 337, the time the clock read when Jon was first inspired to create the JD Howard Reserve. Note that the interlocking JDH initials are raised and embossed, in case you are ever traveling in Mexico and encounter fakes.
What We Liked:
Pick the cigar up and you’ll immediately appreciate the construction. The Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper is about as perfect as they come, with a mixture of chocolate and dark chocolate brown, lending the stick a rustic and appetizing look. As you might expect from Crowned Heads, the burn and draw were fantastic and the ash hangs on perhaps longer than you’d expect, similar to that girlfriend you didn’t want to break up with so you just got meaner and meaner until eventually she broke it off, leaving you guilt free. Just like that.
The flavor profile of the JD Howard Reserve was characterized by an initial blast of chocolate and caramel, but in a strangely unsweet way. I realize this may not make sense, but once you try it, you may know what I mean, or you may not! Further in, a dry, peppery spice picks up. Throughout the hour and a half smoke, a few sour notes popped up as well as a strong leather component, especially towards the tail end. The entire way, the flavors are rich and complex, leaving the palate satisfied.
The JD Howard Reserve has some similar qualities to the Four Kicks Mule Kick, as well. If you’ve longed for a Four Kicks with the flavor dial turned up a couple notches, you will find a lot to like here, with more pronounced flavors and more strength. You definitely don’t want to smoke this on an empty stomach, as the JD Howard is a cigar that smokes back.
What We Didn’t Like:
Whenever a new cigar comes out, especially from a company that started off with the Four Kicks and the Headley Grange, there is a certain level of expectation that accompanies the experience. We’ve been really pumped up to try this smoke, and we may have set our expectations unreasonably high, but it’s hard not to, when Crowned Heads has put out such high quality cigars. If you put a gun to my head and make me pick my favorite Crowned Heads stick, excluding the Mule Kick, I will probably react in a few ways. First, you could have just asked me, no need for weaponry. And second, I choose the Headley Grange. To me, that cigar has something special that I didn’t find in the JD.
Should You Try/Buy It:
Yes, absolutely. Taste is subjective, and there realistically isn’t anything to dislike here. The Headley and JD Howard Reserve have two very different profiles. I expect there will be many who find the JD to be one of their favorite cigars, and I look forward to seeing it on many “best of” lists when the year comes to an end.