If you’re familiar with journalism and news writing, there’s a directive to never bury the lede, or the most important part of the story. When reading about Crowned Heads’ latest regional release, I wasn’t sure which aspect was the true lede: the fact that the company was producing a cigar for Ohio, or that it was releasing its first cigar produced by Drew Estate?

The cigar uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Connecticut broadleaf binder and a filler mix of tobaccos from Nicaragua and Pennsylvania, all rolled into a 6 x 48 corona vitola and priced at $9.60 per cigar. It’s also a regular production release, meaning that while it has a specific region to which it is distributed, the total number of cigars being produced isn’t fixed to a certain number.

“We’ve garnered a strong following in Ohio over the years,” said Jon Huber, co-founder of Crowned Heads, in a press release. “That state also holds a special place in my heart as my wife was born in Lancaster, Ohio. Her maiden name is ‘Land,’ hence ‘Buckeye Land.’ We could not be more excited to be working with Willy Herrera and Drew Estate on this project. I believe Willy and I share a similar admiration for the artistry and tradition of cigar-making, and as such, the creative process of this particular project was very fluid.”

While this may be a regional release for Ohio, it isn’t quite an exclusive, as on Nov. 1, Crowned Heads held its second annual Lawless Day, where the company opens up sales of three of its regional editions to retailers around the country. This means that stores can purchase Buckeye Land as well as Tennessee Walts and Yellow Rose, regardless of where they are located. The one exception to that is the Paniolo Especiale, which is a limited release made for Hawaii and has been modified from year to year.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Buckeye Land
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Filler: Nicaragua & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania)
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Grand Corona
  • MSRP: $9.80 (Boxes of 20, $196)
  • Release Date: October 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

In what has become a staple of Crowned Heads’ regional editions, the Buckeye Land comes unbanded save for a fabric foot band, in this case wearing a red hue that immediately reminds me of The Ohio State University. Once the cigar is disrobed, it shows a dark, meaty wrapper with very slight amounts of oil, some thin veins running its length and a bit of tooth. The roll looks good, though the first sample had a noticeable bulge in its lower half that had me briefly thinking of the Camacho 11/18 vitola, and the upper half of the third sample was on the soft side. Aroma off of the foot is bright and complex; I get an initial hit of candy cane sweetness before a deeper dive reveals cold cuts, salami and an aromatic sweetness that I can’t immediately identify. The cold draw is good if just a touch loose at first impression and shows a remixed version of the aroma with the meats leading the experience, followed by a bit of peppermint candy cane and then a simple syrup sweetness.

The early puffs of the Buckeye Land have a certain meaty quality that seems to match up with the hue of the wrapper; more jerky or salami than steak or pork and quite good, accented by just a touch of pepper on the tongue and a bit more through the nose. There’s plenty of smoke being put off by the cigar—even at rest—with the aroma leaning to the smoky campfire side. It’s a solid medium body and strength out of the gate, though there’s enough variance between the three that have me pegging one on each side of that mark with the third squarely in the middle. After the first clump of ash drops, the cigar moves to or stays on—depending on the particular sample—the mellow side with retrohales offering just a bit of smooth white pepper, though it’s not long before black pepper joins the mix to sharpen up the sensation. The draw, burn line and smoke production have all been quite good so far, with only one cigar not burning quite evenly.

The second third stays the course with a milder flavor profile, and while it’s not reaching out and grabbing the palate with strength or big, distinct flavors, it is still very enjoyable and leans towards an overall complexity that reminds me of salami but with a bit more pepper. It’s the pepper and some new found earth that vary the most among the three samples, and while I generally like earthy cigars, the Buckeye Land can get a bit rough at times. That in turn can overshadow its complexity, which in the first cigar manifests by way of an oily, fatty sweetness along with dried, cured meats, as well as what I can only chalk up to a blender’s secret ingredient that gives the profile a unique character. While the other two cigars show similar notes, they do seem to have to compete more in order of standing out. Across the midway point, the white pepper picks up the intensity in the nose, giving just a bit more of a pleasing sting, while black pepper becomes a bit more prominent on the tongue. The technical performance is still near perfect, with the draw about as smooth as I’ve experienced in recent memory.

While I wouldn’t say that the Buckeye Land’s profile has undergone a significant transition as the burn line enters the final third, it has seemingly shed the salami note that has been prevalent in favor of an earthier, coffee-laden note and more pepper. The aroma is also a bit different, showing an interestingly subdued pepper with a bit of charred chalk, a combination that I can’t recall experiencing before. Pepper regains the lead in the profile as the end of the cigar appears on the horizon, with any sweetness long gone and the overall profile much more robust and increasingly taking on the character of a strong cup of black coffee. There’s a bit more char on the finish as the cigar comes to a close, but it’s still quite enjoyable and shows no burn issues whatsoever.

Final Notes

  • I’m a bit surprised that more hasn’t been made out of the fact that this is a Drew Estate-produced product, as that company does very few things such as this. For the longest time, the one notable exception is producing the Java for Rocky Patel, though in recent years Drew Estate has produced cigars for Caldwell Cigar Co. and Ventura Cigar Co.
  • Given the tobaccos used in this cigar, I was expecting a bit more of a nicotine punch from it, though it seemed to be fairly mild, at best. Not that I’m complaining of course; I’m not going around looking to get cigar drunk much these days.
  • Jon Huber said that the concept for Lawless Day was inspired by the movie The Purge, a fictional story where all crime is allowed for a 12-hour period.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Buckeye Land.
90 Overall Score

Much like with the news stories, I'm not quite sure about where to start with Buckeye Land. The flavor profile is quite good if a few ticks short of spectacular, largely due to the final third that becomes a bit too focused on earth and pepper instead of the complexity that the first two thirds did such a remarkable job to achieve with such seeming effortlessness. The construction is impeccable, and the overall experience is very enjoyable. While I'd normally call it a shame that such a good cigar is only available to a limited number of retailers, thankfully Lawless Day and the internet make it a bit easier to get your hands on, something worth doing as this cigar easily earns its accolades.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.