If there’s one thing that I always have to give Crowned Heads credit for, it’s having a story behind the names of its cigars.
When the company launched and announced its first line, Four Kicks, it came with a backstory. It was inspired by the Kings of Leon song, which Crowned Heads co-founder Jon Huber said really spoke to him with its themes of anger, rebellion, confidence and determination, particularly in light of his 15-year tenure at CAO coming to an end.
“Four Kicks is about sticking to your guns, and remaining loyal to those whom you love, and the hometown that brought you to the dance,” Huber said. “Four Kicks is about turning your back on the corporate machine, and making your own rules.”
It would only about a year after Four Kicks’ debut in November 2011 that it would get its first line extension, a limited edition called the Four Kicks Mule Kick. Like the original line, it comes with a backstory.
During the 2012 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr., who makes the cigar at his Tabacalera La Alianza factory, was showing off an exercise called a mule kick to Huber and his business partner, Mike Conder. Just like that, the new cigar had its name. As for that cigar, it was born out of a desire to make use of some Ecuadorian habano wrapper leaf that was too dark for the Four Kicks line.
After the debut of the Four Kicks Mule Kick, it went on hiatus for five years, returning in 2017 and beginning a series of limited editions that would incorporate different wrapper leaves, including Connecticut habano, Ecuadorian Sumatra, a wrapper from Nicaragua and now one from Mexico’s San Andrés Valley.
The latest edition of the Four Kicks Mule Kick is the first to use a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, while underneath that is what is described as the same binder and filler that have been used for the previous five installments. it is a profile that Huber describes as “impeccably balanced with great structure, and exhibits a nice smokey-spicy-sweet flavor.”
- Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2012 (5 7/8 x 52) — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars) — $8.95 (Boxes of 10, $89.50)
- Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2017 (5 7/8 x 52) — 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars) — $9.90 (Boxes of 10, $99.00)
- Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2018 (5 7/8 x 52) — 3,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars) — $10.95 (Boxes of 10, $109.50)
- Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2019 (5 7/8 x 52) — 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars) — $10.95 (Boxes of 10, $109.50)
- Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2020 (5 7/8 x 52) — 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars) — $11.25 (Boxes of 10, $112.50)
- Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2022 (5 7/8 x 52) — 4,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars) — $11.95 (Boxes of 10, $119.50)
Like those previous editions, it is a 5 7/8 x 52 robusto extra and is made at Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.. It is the largest release in the series with 4,000 boxes of 10 cigars produced, as well as the most expensive, now priced at $11.95 per cigar.
- Cigar Reviewed: Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2022
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 7/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $11.95 (Boxes of 10, $119.50)
- Release Date: April 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: 4,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2022 sports a rich, dark and earthy brown wrapper, one that has a few prominent veins on each leaf as well as a dry texture with a fine grit on the fingers. There are also a few spots where the wrapper darkens a bit, but those changes require a close inspection to really notice. It is rolled firmly with a dense core and little give between that and the wrapper. The seam lines are occasionally visible due to a bit of color variation, and the caps all appear to be created well. Aroma from the foot of the first cigar leads with grape jelly and follows-up with firewood, lightly tilled earth, dry tobacco and just a touch of baking spices. The grape jelly is what varies most and sets the tone for the aroma; in one instance it is like opening a single-serve pack you’d find at a diner; in the other two samples it is much more an accent to the other aromas. The cold draw has the occasional bit of resistance but is consistently smooth and problem-free. The flavor lacks the sweetness of the aroma while keeping a very mellow earthiness that almost gets lost due to how soft it is on the palate.
The Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2022 starts off with an earthy core that has a bit of chocolate and brownie to it, while the finish takes on a bit of a warm mocha and shows the first hints of black pepper. One sample jumps out of the gates with the dry earth and pepper, not waiting for the brownies to come out of the proverbial oven and hitting my palate with a good bit of San Andrés terroir. Given my affinity for brownies, my senses seem to lock on to that flavor and aroma, which also comes through on retrohales but with a black pepper kick. Likewise, when it’s not there, my palate seems to taste it absence. The same can be said about San Andrés terroir, but with a wider scope of expressions and the fact it’s only part of the blend, I’m aware there’s a different kind of awareness at play here. After a strong start, the profile begins to mellow a bit by way of a thick creaminess joining the profile, expressed as a syrup-heavy chocolate milk or a bit of brownie batter. Retrohales, meanwhile, still have a rye-like pepper sensation, though much brighter here. This section finishes with a hearty earthiness, diminished amounts of chocolate, and a bit of black pepper. After starting at or near full, the flavor is now medium-plus, body is medium-full, and strength is just shy of medium. Construction and combustion are both excellent.
The second third continues on with the earthiness but the chocolate slowly departs and is replaced by the pepper and what seems like just a bit of salt on the finish. It is a transition that illustrates how subtle changes can keep a profile under a common header—earthy, in this case—but now hits the palate with a bit more character that heartiness becomes robust and a bit rough, eliciting a much different reaction. Much like it did in the first third, the intensity and character of the flavor increases and then reduces to produce a steady flavor of earthiness in the puffs around the midway point of the cigar. One of those changes comes about as the third sample puts off an incredibly enjoyable campfire aroma, an unexpected surprise that adds something unique to this sample. The final puffs of this section lighten up on the earth and allow for a dry, crispy brownie note to come back into the profile, a transition that also softens up the body and texture of the smoke just enough to have me stop thinking about the slightly grating reaction I have been getting. The intensity of the flavor continues to ebb and flow between medium-plus and full, while body has held fairly steady around the medium-full mark and strength is medium. All the boxes get checked from a technical perspective: an easy draw, an even burn line, plenty of smoke and zero problems with combustion.
As the Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2022 gets into its final third, the earthiness shifts once again, picking up a bit of the clay note that would be on the list of generally typical flavors that Mexican San Andrés tobacco offers. It remains to be seen if the chocolate will return, but the thought of typical flavors has me thinking of the grape jelly aroma the cigar offered before it was lit, and why it hasn’t seemingly manifested since being lit. Black pepper continues to see its intensity regularly adjusted, going from mellow and mildly tingling to big and punchy in a way that drives the profile. A bit of rockiness comes into the profile once the bands are removed, adding a new top note to the profile that sits atop the taste buds after each puff. The final inch or so of the three samples all finish with dry earth, a bit of black pepper, some heat that comes across as red chili pepper flakes, and a mouth-drying smoke. Flavor finishes medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is medium. Construction and combustion remain absolutely fantastic.
- I believe in the merits of getting the full cigar experience, which includes taking the cigar out of the box, so in this case I feel a bit shortchanged. The samples showed up from the office just as the other cigars I review did, but in this case it meant I didn’t get to start the smoking experience with seeing the box and its color scheme inspired by the Mexican flag, and taking whatever that implies about the blend into the cigar.
- I’m interested as to the fact that Crowned Heads went pretty much all caps for the fonts on the box with the exception of 10 cigars.
- Having had some construction issues with cigars recently, I have to give the Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2022 credit for delivering three cigars that were absolutely problem-free.
- Crowned Heads recently announced that its Blood Medicine cigar would be returning to events, though it would now use a different blend than what debuted in 2015.
- I didn’t pick up any nicotine strength from any of the three samples.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar carry the Four Kicks Mule Kick LE 2022.
First things first, I'm not going to compare this to the other Four Kicks Mule Kicks releases, as I'm sure time has affected my very positive memories of the debut release and I haven't committed the other to memory. Second, I can't say enough about how good the construction and combustion were across the three samples, as smoking them was as easy as just making sure the foot was lit evenly. As for the flavor, the 2022 installment is a very good cigar, at least for its first two thirds. One thing I have been finding is that my expectations of cigars that use a Mexican San Andrés wrapper have necessitated adjustment, as I have to imagine there is a broader pool of leaves being used than there was several years ago. That's also taking into account the reality that the binder and filler are still playing a role in the profile. Given the grape jelly aroma off the foot before lighting, I was thinking this cigar might head a certain direction, only to find some a somewhat different profile. Yes, there's earth and terroir, but the chocolate brownie sweetness was a bit of a surprise, and I'm not sure I'd completely agree with Jon Huber's assessment of this being spicy. I will agree with Huber that it is unlike any previous Mule Kick, and it might even be distinctive enough that it's notably different from what's in the nearest retail humidor. The first two thirds do an impressive job segueing the components in and out of the profile, while the final third turns a bit drier and more robust than I would like, especially for a cigar that avoided those adjectives so well earlier. I'd gladly smoke the first two thirds of the Four Kicks Mule Kick Limited Edition 2022 for as long as I can get my hands on them, I just wish the final third delivered a more enjoyable finish so as to erase my only complaint about the cigar.