December 28, 2011

Cigar Review: Four Kicks by Crowned Heads

Four Kicks by Crowned Heads
In January of 2007 C.A.O. Cigars become a part of Scandinavian Tobacco Group (ST Group). For those of you who don't know what the ST Group is, they are one of the largest tobacco groups in the world, and control cigar companies such as C.A.O. and General Cigars. From 2007 to 2010 C.A.O. Cigars remained at their original headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, but in November of that year ST Group decided to move them to Richmond, Virginia so that they would be in the same facility as General Cigars. When the news was given many members of C.A.O. Cigars left the company, and in my opinion the best left. From Tim Ozgener, former President, to Paul Spence, former cigar rep for the D.C. Area, many left in pursue of other careers whether in the cigar field or not.


I can't speak for those who left, because I don't know everyone's individual reason, but I think they all did the right thing. I think C.A.O. Cigars was loosing who they were more and more with ST Group, and the move to Raleigh was really the final straw that brought them down. I think they were once a creative machine that really captivated cigar smokers, and they were loosing that with ST Group. I know I would have left if I were with C.A.O. Cigars, and I think that C.A.O. has really gone down hill since the move. It is a real shame what happened to C.A.O., and I dont't smoke the brand now because of it all. I miss the old days of C.A.O. where the Ozgener Family and all the members of C.A.O. were creating a product that was innovative and intriguing, and a cigar that was wondrous.

Of the many people who left, Jon Huber was one that really caught my eye when I read it. Huber was like a mad-scientist of marketing for C.A.O., and he did an incredible job with the brand and each and every line. If I were with St Group I know I would want him to stay, but in the end he went down his own road. I had the pleasure of meeting him once, and though I really did not have time to really talk with him, I knew of what he was doing for and with C.A.O. in my readings and hearings, and I think I told him "he rocked." Anyways, shortly after he left the company he and three other former C.A.O. employees, Mike Conder, former C.A.O.’s Senior VP of Marketing, Michael Trebing, C.A.O.’s Creative Media Manager, and Nancy Heathman, C.A.O.’s Graphic Designer were starting a new cigar company called Crowned Heads, LLC, and they would be located in Nashville, Tennessee. The four of them announced that they would not rush out a cigar to the market, because they did not want a poor product, but would have one line out by the end of 2011, and the line would be called Four Kicks.

Now with the two names that they have, you are probably like me and wonder where they originate from. The name Crowned Heads originates from when Huber was watching The Wizard of Oz and saw the title "Professor Marvel: The Crowned Heads of Europe." The name Crowned Heads really stuck with him, and they decided to use it after he suggested it to everyone. The name Four Kicks comes from the Kings of Leon song "Four Kicks."  The song inspired Huber, because it spoke to his emotions with the "collapse" of C.A.O. Cigars in 2010.    

It wasn't until August of 2011 that Crowned Heads would announce who would be making Four Kicks, and that the manufacturer was none other than E.P. Carrillo in the Dominican Republic. This would be the first time E.P. Carrillo would make a cigar for another company, and I don't think Crowned Heads, LLC could have picked a better manufacturer. I think E.P. Carrillo is making incredible cigars, and with the knowledge Huber and others have from the years with C.A.O., and Carrillo's gift with tobacco and cigars, the cigar would be destined to be great. Four Kicks was to be made in the traditional Cuban fashion like all of E.P. Carrillo Cigars, and would have an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, and a Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The cigars are currently limited to only 66 retailers, and would be limited to between 30,000 and 35,000 cigars in the initial release. Their retailer list is available here. Click here     

Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper
Holding the Robusto in hand, it measures your standard Robusto size of 5" with a 50 ring gauge, and has a lovely wrapper that is very light in coloring, milk chocolaty. I would say it is more Natural in coloring. There are some veins present throughout the wrapper, and it is fairly smooth for the most part, silky, but there are some rough spots. The cigar has a lovely aroma of leather, wood, hay and rich earth on the wrapper and foot, and with the foot I get a bit of floral notes as well. It is a firm cigar, and the triple cap is beautifully presented on the head. 

As I light up the robusto, I am immediately greeted with wonderful pepper notes and there is also this meaty character to it. The cigar shows lovely leather and wood notes, and there is also this earthy taste as well which brings on the barnyard flavor. I really loved this meaty flavor I got throughout the third, and it left the cigar with a nice dry and long finish. The cigar was around medium-full in terms of strength, and had a lovely spice level. The burn was slightly wavy, but nothing too major, and the ash was your standard gray coloring. The cigar did produce a good amount of smoke, and I was able to get nice tight smoke rings. 

When I get into the second third of the cigar, I begin to see an emergence of floral notes, and it really becomes a wonderful third. The earthy notes have become slightly sweeter in this third, and it is almost along the lines of cocoa. The cigar still showcases those wonderful leather and wood notes, and it is still fairly spicy from the firs third. The second third really showed some more complexities from the first third, and the cigar remained medium-full in terms of strength. The burn line did much better in this third, and it became fairly even in those terms. The ash was sill holding on to the cigar very well, and the dry finish was very lovely. 
    
I am in the final third of the cigar now, and the flavors in this third really are a culmination from the first two thirds. The floral notes play wonderfully with the meaty notes from the first third, and the spice, wood and leather notes are balanced by this sweet rich earth taste. It is a very complex final third, and really incredible. The cigar really grows on me all the way to the end, and it leaves me wanting another one. I smoke the cigar down to the nub, still getting those awesome flavors, and when I put it down it is still producing a cool draw. I would say the cigar remains medium-full all the way to the end, and has a great burn line as well.

This was a very enjoyable cigar, and each one really got better and better for me. I look at this cigar like an old school cigar. It reminds me in some ways of a Cuban Bolivar in the sense that it just captures those certain flavors. I think the crew at Crowned Heads really did a great job given the fact that this is their first cigar line. The cigar really showed so many great flavors and had a nice strength that really captivated to my palate. I have sampled three of the four sizes, and I must say this my second favorite of the three. (I am going to review my favorite size, I just smoked all of them before reviewing them.) I think the Four Kicks line is going to be extremely popular when it becomes more available, and I think we can expect great things in future production from the crew at Crowned Heads. A job well done, and this cigar gets a 92 in my book, and worthy of box purchase! 
Four Kicks Robusto

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