Just about a month ago, it was announced that Crowned Heads wasn’t done with its busy year of limited editions, as the Nashville, Tenn. company had one more in store for 2014: an unbanded 6 x 46 called The Buckingham that was headed to Cigar Federation and Delaware Cigars, who handles the retail side of the site.
The project has been in the works for some time, as Jon Huber had posted a picture of the cigar to the Crowned Heads Twitter account, calling it Proyecto 5, or Project 5, which refers to the fact that Crowned Heads had five limited edition projects in the works for 2014: The Mason-Dixon Project, Tennessee Waltz, Arrington Vineyards Double-W, Hecho con Corazon—LE 2014 and The Buckingham. Like the other four cigars, The Buckingham is being produced by My Father Cigars, S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua.
It originally started out as a cigar called Texacali, a project that was slated to be made for Cigar Chat, a weekly radio show co-hosted by Logan Lawler and Rob Rasmussen. Huber told halfwheel that The Buckingham is the realization of that project. It commemorates the “changing of the guard” at Cigar Federation, according to Logan Lawler, who purchased the site from Kyle Hoover and Chris Kelly, owners of Ezra Zion Cigars, in July 2014. At the time of its announcement, Lawler said that he approached Crowned Heads shortly after acquiring the site, which was launched by Hoover and Kelly in 2011. It’s the second cigar made for the members of Cigar Federation this year, as in February, Ezra Zion Cigars released The Collective.
At a surface level, the blend might appear to be similar to another Crowned Heads release this year, Jericho Hill. The countries of origin are the exact same for the two cigars, though Jon Huber of Crowned Heads said that they are completely different blends. While he wouldn’t go into specifics, he did say that the filler combinations are different, explaining that the Garcías have 11 different farms in Nicaragua where they are growing their own tobacco and which were used on Jericho Hill and The Buckingham. He also said that the final result he hoped to achieve with both cigars with different. “I was looking for a ‘Padrón-esque’ complexity of spice and sweet on Jericho—on Buckingham, my directive was to create the blend ‘for the modern palate,’ as I wanted something with a good base of structure and ‘kick’ to it,” he told halfwheel.
- Cigar Reviewed: The Buckingham
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Long Corona
- MSRP: $7.95 (Bundles of 10, $79.50)
- Release Date: Dec. 2, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 200 Bundles of 10 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The Buckingham appears to be a solidly-rolled cigar with clean, straight lines and a well applied cap. The wrapper is an earthy brown with a subtle bit of tooth and a few spots where the shade lightens up near the veins, which are fairly prominent but by no means obtrusive. While the top leaf feels soft and supple in the hand, the cigar itself is uniformly firm when squeezed and offers just a slight bit of give. The pre-light aroma has dual notes of both chocolate and tree bark coming off the foot; the former is thick, cool and syrupy, while the latter is a bit on the damp side but not overly powerful. Pepper varies from cigar to cigar, with one cigar showing none and the next offering a nose-tingling amount. The cold draw errs just a bit to the loose side at time as the air feels in need of a bit more restriction, delivering a similar combination of flavors but with the bark leading and the chocolate manifesting in a sweeter version, similar to a Hershey’s Kiss.
Big notes of coffee and chocolate jump off The Buckingham when it’s lit, a bright and fragrant start to the cigar that gives the nose some hearty aromas to process straight away. Once lit, I find that the draw is a bit loose but not as worrisome as I thought it might be and air moves well through the cigar, with the first puffs offering a damp, tangy wood note, good amounts of earth and terroir and a decent amount of pepper, though most of it seems geared towards the nose. The intensity settles down after about an inch, honing in on a note that is a successful combination of coffee beans, earth and pepper with just a bit of a bright aromatic that comes out from time to time. There hasn’t been a single issue with the burn so far as the line is even and progresses well up the cigar. The dark gray ash shows the tooth of the wrapper and holds on for at least three-quarters of an inch before falling off.
While there isn’t a decisive moment that The Buckingham decides to make a few adjustments to the flavor, it slowly becomes woodier than it was in the first third, as well as fuller bodied with a good amount of pepper and rich wood and bark notes in the aroma. It’s a clean and pronounced pepper in the nose on every retrohale, falling just short in terms of punchiness to be overpowering, though at times the sharpness can be a bit off-putting. I do find the signature San Andrés soil notes lacking at times, a bit disappointing given my personal fondness for the varietal and that it was so well executed in Jericho Hill and other cigars made at My Father Cigars S.A. The burn continues to be outstanding through the first half, with a sharp and even burn line, decent smoke production and ash that holds on fairly well, though combustion issues start to emerge in the second half, as the cigar seems to be going out a little bit too easily on its own.
The flavor profile stays fairly linear but still enjoyable as the burn line moves into the final third before the pepper component again steps forward and stays with The Buckingham throughout its final inches. The one thing that seems to be lacking at times however is the stronger sense of terroir that I was picking up earlier, or at least it’s shifting from the familiar and enjoyable San Andrés soil notes to a different flavor more influenced by the Nicaraguan fillers and binder. Combustion issues become more prevalent, as there appears to be a bit of residual moisture in this section that makes it challenging to keep the cigar lit after periods of rest, though relights get it right back on track with no overly adverse effect to the flavor. Besides that, the cigar performs well with no draw issues and plenty of smoke. The aroma picks up a decided sweetness in the final puffs and brings the cigar to an enjoyable close.
- If you read the blend notes and thought it sounded like a Jericho Hill, congratulations on knowing one of Crowned Heads’ lines fairly well, at least at a surface level. As Jon Huber mentioned above, they are different blends, and I didn’t find that The Buckingham was simply a Jericho Hill in a smaller vitola, though there are a few times where the cigars are similar.
- In comparing the two, Huber said he thinks Jericho Hill is a more refined smoke, while The Buckingham is a straightforward blend with good “guts,” showing good woody notes and possibly less of the subtle sweetness found in Jericho Hill.
- Jericho Hill was the first Crowned Heads release to use Mexican San Andrés, this is the second.
- You’ll also notice that this cigar is very similar in size to the 6 1/2 x 46 Jericho Hill LBV.
- I tip my cap to Huber for his forthright comparison of the two cigars. This is a perfect example of how just because two cigars from the same brand owner and factory can have the same basic blend information, they can taste markedly different.
- After smoking the first two samples and finding issues with combustion in the second half, I dryboxed the third for about an hour just to see if it would help. It didn’t.
- The halfwheel staff have had numerous discussions about whether or not we should drybox cigars prior to smoking them for a review, and if we determine that a cigar badly needs some time away from the humidor before smoking, how much that should affect the review. I’m not a fan of having to do it, though I struggle with just how much a cigar’s score should be affected by it. Certainly if a cigar is so damp that it can’t be smoked, that’s an issue. Likewise, a manufacturer should be making sure that the cigars delivered to a store are as ready to go as they can be. Yet, that seems like it’s getting to be the case less and less.
- I had always wondered what the word mazo meant, and Google Translate tells me it can mean mallet, gavel or club. The Tobacconist University handbook says it is simply a Spanish term that refers to bundles of twenty-five, or more commonly, fifty cigars.
- I’m not really of a strong opinion about the cigars coming without bands; that said, The Collective came with bands on it, two in fact, and I think a footband with The Buckingham on it could have made a fitting look for the cigar and kept it in line with the previous release.
- Final smoking time was just over one hour and 40 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
Smoke The Buckingham on its own and you’ll find that it’s a very enjoyable, well-balanced cigar that offers plenty of flavor, aroma, pepper, strength and a respectable finish, though that is probably the most lacking characteristic of the bunch as it fades fairly quickly. Smoke The Buckingham within a few weeks of smoking a Jericho Hill, and you’ll likely find that it falls short of the level that cigar established. I make no secret of my love of good San Andrés tobacco, and it was the depth of that flavor that was about the only thing lacking for me, with the less prevalent sweetness also noticeable. But if you tried Jericho Hill and found it a bit much for your palate, The Buckingham offers another enjoyable expression of similar tobacco.