CYOP—“Carve Your Own Path”—you’ll see a lot of that if you follow Crowned Heads on their various social media accounts. It’s sort of the unofficial/official motto of the Crowned Heads brand. Formed by former CAO employees after a tumultuous corporate merger with General Cigar Company in 2010, Crowned Heads embraced the unknown. When it came time to “carve a new path,” they started with a cigar (Four Kicks) that was made in the Dominican Republic at Ernesto Perez-Carillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza factory; drawing inspiration from their home base of Nashville and its associated music scene.
In the years following, Crowned Heads expanded on their music/rock influence, adding Headley Grange to the portfolio and, eventually, a sought-after limited edition followup to Four Kicks brand dubbed “Mule Kick.” And while other spinoffs (Black Belt Buckle) and re-releases have followed over the years, Crowned Heads had remained steadfast in their strategy of maintaining a singular blend for each of their core-line products. This changed in 2017, as the company debuted Four Kicks Maduro at the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas.
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Four Kicks Maduro Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Habano Maduro
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza, S.A. (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5” x 50 Robusto
- Price: $9.60 (MSRP)
Traditionally, companies showcase multiple blend variations (natural, maduro, Connecticut) within a singular brand; Four Kicks Maduro is the first such indication of this approach from Crowned Heads (CH). As with the shop-exclusive Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle before it, Four Kicks Maduro embraces a Connecticut Maduro wrapper—the notable difference being that Four Kicks Maduro showcases a lesser-known Connecticut Habano varietal (rather the more popular Connecticut Broadleaf).
Worst things first, we have some pretty glaring construction issues throughout the samples smoked. After clipping the cap, the remaining circles of the cap below the cut slough right off the top of the cigar; intact, trailing an unwinding wrapper leaf behind it. I’m able to rescue it with some cigar glue, to an extent, but even with the glue the singular cap rings are simply too big to completely adhere to the cigar, leaving a small gap. The rustic-looking cigars have lumps, bumps, veins, and a wrapper shade that is predominantly a reddish Colorado hue with some darker brown/brindle-like mottling. This, being a unique Connecticut Habano maduro, isn’t quite as dark as what I usually think of as a “maduro.” As maduro is a term that can be translated to “ripe” or “mature,” it signifies a process, rather than a varietal, and there is certainly room for variance and interpretation. It’s an attractive enough cigar, but not quite what you’d consider to be super-premium in appearance.
The wrapper smells faintly of minerality and slight chemical notes, with some chocolate and a hint of brioche toast. From the foot the chemical smell solidifies into ammonia, and there’s a touch of earth as well. On the cold draw, it is sweetness all around: Tootsie Roll chocolate, sweet tobacco, steel-cut oats, and creamy lemon custard (where did that come from?).
Upon the first draw, my concerns with the slightly off-putting aromas are dispelled, as the Maduro starts out very nicely, with sweet chocolate, cream, and a rich woodiness. Question: is chocolate acorn stew a thing? It certainly should be, as indicated by the beginnings of this profile. Dry, bitter, green peppercorn spikes the punch right after the first few draws. Chocolate becomes a molé, with the creaminess transitioning to the juicy fat from a charred steak. This is all in the first inch! There’s a vegetal quality, again with the creamy feature of the flavor profile lending a hand in expression. The pepper is interesting in that it takes about an inch before it becomes more noticeable on the retrohale (compared to the palate), whereas on most cigars the pepper will feature more prominently through the nose. This, however, had a fairly mild retrohale initially. The smoke production is excellent—one of the most voluminous cigars I’ve smoked in a while in that aspect. Chocolate is no longer in the least resemblant of the American style (aka candy); it’s now a rich, pleasantly bitter, spicy, herbal tonic. The robusto is a fairly fast smoker, bringing me into the second third with a smoke time just shy of 25 minutes. Strength/body/flavor all sit around the medium-plus range.
Moving into the second third, the samples provide a good solid ash, with the profile increasing in intensity and complexity. Flavors flit in and out. One minute it’s sweet and spicy, the next it’s creamy and meaty. The charred meatiness pops back in and brings a pleasant saltiness and woodiness that reminds me of being at the beach. In this portion, some samples showed wrapper cracks and increasing burn waviness, though not to the point of requiring attention. I’m impressed, again, at the smoke output and draw on this cigar—it’s nearly perfect. Wonderfully potent flavors express themselves without reservation, and a very long, pleasant, chocolate and cinnamon flavor linger on the finish—creating an overall dessert-like profile nearing the band. At this point, the strength remains the same, while body and flavor are medium/full.
Having burned past the wrapper crack, the profile returns to its former self (including a pretty solid burn line); it’s not razor sharp, but certainly on track. As expected, there is a return of the spiciness. The spicy, chocolatey, woody flavors are driving the flavor profile, and while complexity has faded, these flavors are bold and pleasant. There is a sudden flavor burst of a char-grilled, sugar-dipped, caramelized, bitter orange that pops up, and I start to feel a little giddy. There’s a great, lingering cayenne burn on my lips and tongue as I enjoy the long finish. The smoke is chewy and delicious as I get into nub territory, which remains solid and cool (contrary to the conventional “nub” portion). This cigar is a finger-burner, as I take it all the way down until I literally can’t hold it anymore. Four Kicks Maduro impressed down to the very last draw, where it showed a new component of chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
I will certainly enjoy this cigar again, as this is almost a perfect melding of my two favorite Crowned Heads cigars, matching the bold savory meatiness and woodiness of the La Imperiosa with the luscious dessert flavors of Le Carême. In fact, I’m “carving” myself a path to the smoke shop to buy some of these as we speak…
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Macallan 18, chocolate stout, root beer
- Purchase Recommendation: Full Box
- Something different: Connecticut Habano Maduro
- Lots of interesting flavor transitions
- Wrapper is somewhat delicate
- Quick burner
- Expensive for size