Celebratory and tribute cigars are most definitely not new practices within the cigar industry. Most are inspired by history—either of the brand (e.g. Crowned Heads itself), an individual, a family, or a country. Music has been an inspiration for Crowned Heads from the beginning, with Four Kicks, Headley Grange, and more recently, Mother Church.
At the 2021 PCA trade show in Las Vegas, Crowned Heads offered yet another musical approach with a trip down “Mean Street.” Inspired by what might possibly be the greatest guitar solo ever, from arguably the best guitarist that ever lived, Crowned Heads offered up the Crowned Heads Court Reserve Serie E. Yes, that’s right, the Serie E is a tribute to the solo “Eruption” by the one and only Eddie Van Halen.
Could you imagine sitting in the blending room when Crowned Heads co-founder Jon Huber comes in, plays the song, and says, “Blend me a cigar that smokes like this song sounds?” In all seriousness, John Huber says he felt that “Eruption” was like “a sonic metaphor for smoking this cigar.” He compares the smoking experience—from cut and light to finish—to the intro, body, and finish of the guitar solo itself, described as a “dance on the edge between technical mastery and random entropy.”
CHC Serie E 5150 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
- Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Pueblo Nuevo | Ometepe | Jalapa)
- Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5½″ × 50 (Robusto)
- Price: $11.50 (MSRP)
The Serie E falls under Crowned Heads’ CHC Reserve Series (Crowned Heads Court Reserve), which debuted in 2018 with the Crowned Heads Court Reserve XVIII cigar. Differing from the XVIII, the Serie E is not limited in production. Furthermore, the cigar utilizes an entirely different blend and manufacturing partner, being crafted at the Tabacalera Pichardo factory in Nicaragua (as opposed to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza in the DR).
The cigars shipped to retailers in mid-September, offered in four sizes:
- Petite Edmundo: 4⅜” x 52 | $11 (20-ct box, $220)
- 5150: 5½” x 50 | $11.50 (20-ct box, $230)
- Hermoso No. 2: 6⅛” x 48 | $10.25 (20-ct box, $205)
- Sublime: 6½” x 54 | $12.25 (20-ct box, $245)
The cigars are packaged in a very striking, glossy, black and red box, with the Crowned Heads Court logo in gold adorned on the lid. There is also a Tabacalera Pichardo band in the upper right and an ACE Prime seal along the right side of the box. Van Halen fans might notice a white stripe on the outside of the box, but it is inside where the true meaning comes out, with Eddie’s famous Frankenstrat graphic adorning the inside of the lid. The cigars are outfitted with black, white, and red bands, displaying the same logos and colors as the box lid, along with Frankenstrat designs and decorative gold medallions going around the back side of the bands.
The cigars themselves feature an oily milk chocolate-colored wrapper, with just a hint of color variation allowing the seams to be lightly visible. There is some tooth to the wrapper, as well as some larger raised veins running the length of the cigar. And now it’s time to crank some Van Halen and see what this cigar has to offer.
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The pre-light aroma from the foot of this cigar has a mix of cocoa, roasted peanuts, and barnyard, while the body has hints of milk chocolate, earth, and leather, with an overall citrus undertone. The pre-light draw is snug, with hints of damp cedar, cocoa, and earth. On first light, there is quite a bit of cayenne pepper, along with some roasted peanuts, earth, and a solid pepper burn on the nostrils during the retrohale. Getting to about the one-inch mark, hints of freshly ground coffee and leather enter the picture, with the underlying citrus note detected during the pre-light now appearing in the smoking experience. There is quite a bit of complexity to the profile in the early stages of the cigar. Fortunately, the tight draw detected during pre-light went away as soon as fire was set to the foot—maybe just a notch firmer than what I would consider perfect at this point. Flavor and body are medium, while the strength is on the low side of medium, heading into the middle portion of the cigar.
Getting into the meat of the smoke, there really is not much change in the profile, with coffee, earth, leather, and roasted peanut in the mix. There is a slight creamy sweetness that appears, reminding me of the burnt sugar sweetness of marshmallows over a campfire. This sweetness pushes the citrus notes out of the profile. Leather and earth have both become more prominent, but the sweetness is keeping any bitterness at bay. Thus far, this has been an enjoyable experience. The burn and draw remain consistent, and the retrohale is still predominantly pepper with just hints of oak in the background.
Getting into the final portion of the cigar, as mentioned previously, there is very little change in the profile, although strength has stepped up slightly, now being firmly in the medium range. The sweetness is still prominent on the palate, and is the largest component to what is making the cigar enjoyable. Body and complexity remain medium, with the strength now solidly in the medium category as well. This is how the cigar finishes.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I have been a fan of the CHC line from Crown Heads since its beginnings. The profile they offer fits my personal palate well and they will be in my humidor so long as they are available. However, the Serie E fell a little short of my expectations. It was still a pleasurable experience, and combined with it being a tribute to my all-time favorite guitarist, it may yet stand a chance at earning a regular-rotation spot in my humidor.
- Flavor: Medium
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Root beer | Single malt (smoky not peaty) | Aged rum | Cold brew coffee with sweet cream
- Purchase Recommendation: Fiver
- Great burn and draw
- Mild-mannered strength
- A tribute to Edward Van Halen, who passed away just over a year ago, on 10/06/2020
- Starts off good but doesn’t develop
- Needs an MP3 to play "Eruption" when opening the box