I think it's interesting that while most of your reviews are on limited and pre-released cigars, only about 1/3 of them are in the 90 and higher category. That shows a lot of what is going on in this industry presently. Also, since you guys use at least 3 different reviewers, it is interesting to see the breakouts below. It's good to know that the top 5 scores are 87-93, meaning that most of the cigars you guys review (being pre-release or limited) are at least pretty damn good bordering on really damn good. let's hope it stays that way in the coming years! Thanks for doing what you guys do (being objective and as un-biased as one can be in something that is as subjective as telling FEELINGS on TASTE)as well as you do it, with facts to back it up. Keep it up!
Review: Headley Grange Drumstick
In mid-September, Crowned Heads made it official: the company would have a limited edition released based off of one of its current lines that would debut later in the year. It was rather predictable for a few reasons. For starters, the company has made it clear they were ready to announce another limited edition. Second, the company did the exact same thing last year.
For 2012, it was the Mule Kick, based off of the company’s Four Kicks line. This year? A Lancero for Headley Grange.
Unlike last year, where the narrative of the motives behind the limited edition included discussion of darker wrapper, the Headley Grange Drumstick is said to include an internal blend tweak and the cigars appear identical in color to the rest of the line.
Headley Grange debuted last year in the form of the Estupendos vitola . Earlier this year, the Nashville-based company released the four additional regular production sizes. With this being the first addition to the line since, Headley Grange stands at six vitolas currently:
- Headley Grange Estupendos (5 1/2 x 52) — 2012 — Regular Production*
- Headley Grange Eminentes (5 1/4 x 44) — 2013 — Regular Production
- Headley Grange Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46) — 2013 — Regular Production
- Headley Grange Hermoso No. 4 (5 x 48) — 2013 — Regular Production
- Headley Grange Dobles (6 1/8 x 50) — 2013 — Regular Production
- Headley Grange Drumstick (7 1/2 x 38) — 2013 — 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
*The Estupendos debuted in 2012 under a soft launch of 1,000 boxes. In 2013, it launched as a regular production cigar.
As Brooks Whittington explained last year, the name of the line has musical roots:
While the name Four Kicks, the initial release of Crowned Heads, was inspired by the Kings of Leon song by the same name, Headley Grange is actually the name of the building in England where Led Zeppelin recorded parts of the album IV, among others. (Jon Huber) has said that he wanted to blend a cigar that tasted the same as the distinctive drum beat in the song “When the Levee Breaks” which was recorded there.
The person who Huber went to with the request was Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr., the head of E.P. Carrillo and the Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory where both Crowned Heads and E.P. Carrillo cigars are made. Perez-Carrillo is also a drummer, which helps to explain the name chosen for this year’s limited edition.
And the particulars.
- Cigar Reviewed: Headley Grange Drumstick
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 7 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 38
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $10.00 (Boxes of 10, $100.00)
- Date Released: October 16, 2013
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 5
There is no secondary band proclaiming the Drumsticks limited edition status, although it is the only size in the line to carry a pigtail. The Ecuadorian Sumatra has a familiar roughness as the rest of the line, but it appears to be rolled cleanly. I did find a common hard spot right below the band on all five of the cigars I smoked. While there is a bit of leather from the wrapper, I get a much more interesting cereal and spice mixture from the foot of each cigar. The cold draw was somewhat similar: spices, woodiness, orange, touches off coffee and a bit of black pepper on the back of the mouth.
The Drumsticks begin in different forms. While the flavor is a mouthwatering woodsiness, nuts and peppers with a sweet undertone, the draws and finishes are different. Some examples are tight, while others featured a great draw with easy smoke and much greater flavor, including a wonderful salty pretzel finish I found on two cigars. Regardless, the Drumstick is definitely a Headley Grange, but it’s a bit softer and slightly more refined than the rest of the line. The core woodsiness and nuttiness is joined by some spice, cedar and a familiar orange note on the finish. Strength-wise, it’s similar to the rest of the Headley Grange line, just a tick above medium for me.
As the second third gets going, the profile increases in its detail. The nuttiness has gained some sweetness and the woodsiness is now much more a cedar and oak combo than it was earlier. There are touches of coffee bean, a smoked meat sensation and some leather, no new flavors, but nothing static from the earlier third.
Given how the Drumstick was able to take a quicker rate of puffing than the average Lancero, it shouldn’t come to a surprise that the cigar also remained not only cool, but also enact flavor-wise until less than an inch left. The smoke production definitely decreased, but the flavors were still there: with an added buttery creaminess and harsher rendition of the black pepper than earlier in the cigar. Eventually, the cigars struggled to stay lit, and I called it a day.
- Three of the samples I smoked were fine as far as the draw was concerned. Two cigars, from two different boxes, were not. The cigars weren’t plugged, but they were hard to smoke, even for a person who likes a tighter draw. I do wonder if the hard spot played a role, as that’s where it felt like it was coming from.
- After my first Drumstick, I became much more liberal with my cutting than I normally would be, taking off almost as much as I could on each cigar. Still, that had little effect on the fourth cigar I smoked for this review, which was rather tight.
- Brooks Whittington told me he asked Huber about making a Headley Grange Lancero at the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention. According to Whittington, Huber told him he didn’t think it was possible due to the blend constraints with the size.
- This is the first Lancero made at Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
- The cigars were said to be rolled all by the same roller. This trend, or at least talking about it, has become a bit more popularover the last year or so.
- As far as Lanceros go, the shape of the cap on the Drumstick is not one we commonly see. It’s a bit more round and a bit more emphasized than most. It’s also not a triple cap, which is a fairly common site on Lanceros.
- Strength-wise, I’d say this is medium plus. Right in line with where I find the rest of Headley Grange to be.
- As noted above, there is no secondary band like the Mule Kick had.
- Headley Grange as a line is described as being trunk-pressed, if that’s the case on the Drumstick, it’s not obvious.
- Most blends are adjusted to size, particularly at the extremes. I doubt there are more than a handful of Lanceros that didn’t have a similar tweak like the Drumstick.
- I know this sounds odd, but I’m interested to know what this blend tastes like in a bit of a larger ring gauge. Maybe one day.
- Many members of this site have professed our strong desire to see 10-count boxes, particularly on limited edition cigars. I personally think it’s a better way to go unless the box economics don’t work out.
- Crowned Heads is shipping the cigar out in batches.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar has the Drumstick listed, but is currently backordered. Site sponsors Best Cigar Prices and Tobacco Grove all have Headley Grange in stock, but don’t list the Drumstick.
- A list of Drumstick retailers is available here.
The Bottom Line: At a local Crowned Heads Trunk Show event, I stopped in and picked up an Estupendos. After three Drumsticks over the course of the first half of the week, I wanted to just make sure of something: the Drumstick definitely tastes like a Headley Grange, but it’s a lot softer, or passive. One of the beauties of Headley Grange to me is the contrast between the complexity and this slight edge the cigar has; that’s just not there with Drumstick, at least for me. It’s not milder, it’s not less complex and it’s not any worse of a cigar, but it’s definitely a bit different. For me, the Estupendos and No. 4 are still the best of the line, but all six are very good cigars, the best that’s coming out of La Alianza as far as I’m concerned.
Final Score: 90