Headley Grange by Crowned Heads
When I found out I had been tasked to join an Army unit in the mountains of Afghanistan, a few things crossed my mind. The usual “Oh sh*t”, but then something weird…what cigars would I bring?! If you talk to anyone who has deployed in recent years, cigar smoking is a huge part of deployed life. I wanted my experience to be different, though. I wanted to take high quality sticks to make my time over there as enjoyable as possible. The reason I mention all that is because this review focuses on the very first cigar I smoked while in country: Headley Grange by Crowned Heads.
Headley Grange may sound familiar to you, if you’re a rock and roll fan, it’s the name of the little grotto in England where Led Zeppelin recorded parts of their esteemed IV, including When the Levee Breaks. As a matter of fact, the cigar itself was created to stir up the same feeling you get when listening to the song. “While listening to that particular song, we noted that we wanted to blend a cigar that tasted like the first six seconds of “When the Levee Breaks” sounded. The steady sound of John Bonham’s drums on that track are unforgettable: heavy, plodding, ominous, and thick” according to Jon Huber, of Crowned Heads.
As a huge Zeppelin fan myself, I was immediately intrigued by this new brand from Crowned Heads. The Headley Grange originates in the Dominican Republic at the Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.. With an Ecuadorian wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder. The only size currently available is the Estupendos 5 ½ x 52, which I personally love.
My reviews while here are a little different than back home. I am typically smoking in the dead of night under the cover of a blanket of black. You see, the skies out here are darker than anything you’ve ever seen, with such clear, bright stars. It’s almost as if civilization has never touched this lost country. Due to the nature of the smoking environment, observations are a little less pinpoint than usual.
Upon initial inspection, I find a gorgeous cocoa-brown wrapper, light with oils and minimal veins. In my hand it feels tender, but snug. Light woodsy aromas with spices abounding on the nose. After a clean cut, the ghost draw is completely unobstructed and smooth as ice.
Out here I don’t have the luxury of fancy torches, so crappy matches have to do. To my surprise, Mr. Grange lit with no trouble at all, yielding gorgeous pillows of whitish grey smoke right from the beginning. Due to my lack of experience lighting sticks with subpar matches, I overlit one side, much to my dismay. However, this stick was so well constructed that it corrected itself after a few minutes of allowing it to rest.
I immediately noticed the medium-full strength of this bold cigar, coupled with fairly intense notes of spice. I got spicy, bold, roasted flavors with a gorgeous burn and even smoke. Leather, earth and pepper coated my palate and left a really delicious taste in my mouth, very pleasant. The first inch of greyish black ash clung for life as I puffed away. Every draw was smooth and warm, I never had to fight for a clean draw.
As I sat there smoking and reading in the breathtaking Afghan night, this gourmet stick waited patiently for me, never once going out or burning unevenly. The stubborn ash hung on for about an inch or so before reluctantly giving in.
Plumes of silky smoke billowed effortlessly off the end of this beauty. During the middle 2/3 of this smoke, the pepper fades and leaves sweet notes. Very similar to other reviews, about half way exactly, the flavor profile changes dramatically, almost like an entirely different smoke. I got tastes that reminded me of graham cracker. The flavors were very woodsy; very pleasant and aromatic. Much the same way When the Levee Breaks morphs from that intense drum to the beautiful chords at the beginning of the song.
Towards the final few inches, the spice and pepper return a little more with the heat. Around this time I also felt the strength ramp up a little bit. The leather profile has pretty much dissipated and instead the wood and pepper take over.
As a final thought on the Headley Grange, I smoked this to the thumbs. I have already begun my search for these by the box. At under $10 a stick, I think you cannot go wrong here: beautiful flavor profile, smooth smoke and gorgeous burn. Crowned Heads are making moves in a great direction, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for them.