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In 2016, about three and a half years after Headley Grange debuted, Crowned Heads released a maduro version of the line as an exclusive to JR Cigar, dubbed the Black Dog, a name that shares its origins with the original line’s. Headley Grange was named for the studio in England where Led Zeppelin recorded “When the Levee Breaks,” which was the inspiration for the blend. In particular, Jon Huber wanted to create a cigar that tasted as distinctive as the opening drum beat of that song.

So when it came time for the maduro version, Huber turned to the band’s album, Led Zeppelin IV, which contained the original song as well as another track called Black Dog, an appropriate title given the darker color of that cigar’s Connecticut habano maduro wrapper.

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Huber wasn’t done with the dog-themed names for Headley Grange line extensions, as in 2018 the Black Lab LE 2018 would debut, using the same blend as Black Dog but limited to just 1,500 boxes of 12 cigars, which came in a 6 x 52 toro vitola.

In 2019, the Crowned Heads teamed returned with another limited edition for its Headley Grange line, and once again, named for a breed of dog: the Chamuco.

The name comes from a breed of dog that is also referred to as a Mexican pit bull, which is a cross between an American pit bull and the extinct Mexican bulldog.

Given its name origins, it should come as no surprise that the cigar uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, a replacement for the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper found on the regular production version of the Headley Grange line. Underneath that leaf is the normal blend though, meaning a binder and filler that both come from Nicaragua.

  • Headley Grange Black Dog Dobles (6 1/8 x 50)
  • Headley Grange Black Dog Estupendos (5 1/2 x 52)
  • Headley Grange Black Dog Laguito No. 6 (6 1/2 x 56)
  • Headley Grange Black Lab LE 2018 (6 x 52)
  • Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019 (5 1/2 x 54)

 

This latest version comes priced at $10.95 per cigar and is offered in 12-count boxes, with 1,500 produced by Tabacalera La Alianza S.A., Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s factory in the Dominican Republic.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto Gordo
  • MSRP: $10.95 (Box of 12, $131.40)
  • Release Date: December 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 12 Cigars (18,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

My run of triple-banded cigars continues with the Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019, which wears the same main band found on the regular production line, a secondary band with the Chamuco name on it, and a foot band with the Crowned Heads word mark, something that still seems a bit odd as Crowned Heads started off not using the company’s name on its cigars. The covered foot and its somewhat randomly folded tobacco sticking out interrupts the visual that the cigar could have achieved, but it’s not enough to really get worked up about. The box press flattens out the cigar a bit; it’s firm but with the standard amount of give that cigars put through this technique tends to show. The wrapper is a dark, earthy shade of brown that is robust with some veins and crystallization, as well as what looks like a dry texture but in fact offers a slightly oily texture for the fingers. Aroma off the foot is very neutral, and in the case of the first sample, almost nonexistent. There’s a bit of sweet milk chocolate on two samples, though I feel like I have to work to find it. The cold draw is only slightly more revealing, with a bit of wheat toast and suggestions of grape jelly sweetness in one sample, while others struggle to get just beyond a generic tobacco taste to offer a bit of dark chocolate and burnt steak ends.

After lighting the first Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019 and taking a few puffs, I’m beginning to wonder if I smoked one of these too early in the morning, as while I’m wide awake, I’m worried my palate my still be in bed. The cigar is fairly innocuous out of the gate, offering a bit of a chalk and mineral flavor, accented by touches of white pepper. There’s a bit of sourness that splashes the front of the tongue, which isn’t a great flavor with which to start out a cigar or a day. The second sample has a bit more earthiness, which is appreciated if still feeling restrained, while the third is equally as tame but without any of the less desirable flavors.  The first puff after I knock the first clump of ash off the first cigar has me immediately thinking that something is off with this cigar, and I immediately check the head as it tastes like there is a tar buildup happening, and sure enough, there is. As such, I clip off a bit more of the head to get a clean tip, which seems to resolve the issue as well as open up the draw a bit. The flavor has more white pepper now and a lighter, more fragrant aroma that I can’t quite place, but the net change is a win. The technical performance is solid, while both flavor and strength sits between medium-minus and medium.

The second third starts off with the kind of earthiness and terroir I would expect from a cigar with this blend, though there is still an occasional flavor that my tongue just can’t completely shake. While I was pretty sure of the tar in the first third, I don’t know whether this is a byproduct of the cigar’s age or simply the remnant of the first third. Thankfully it isn’t present across all three samples, which allows the still subdued earth to be enjoyed without distractions. By the midpoint, the cigar still hasn’t shown much in the way or other vibrant flavors, keeping things fairly simple and enjoyable, at least until some of that pepper appears suddenly and catches me off-guard for a puff or two. The final puffs of the second third bring about a flavor that finally feels dialed in, as black pepper comes through quite well on retrohales, brightening up a slightly dry, earthy flavor on the palate. It’s not the deepest or most complex profile I have ever found in a cigar, but it is without question miles ahead of where the Chamuco started. Flavor and strength still hover around the medium mark, while the technical performance is very good.

The final third of the Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019 picks up a bit of a root beer note flavor and aroma, slightly sweet and all too fleeting, but showing that the cigar had more to offer than the first third might have suggested. It still feels like the cigar has yet to truly wake up, though what it does have to offer is enjoyable enough, or at least not disagreeable to the palate. At its best, the cigar shows a strong earthy base that gets highlighted by black pepper and dark chocolate, something I get for a number of puffs I can probably count on one hand, so when that profile locks in, I am definitely appreciative of it. There’s still a touch of harshness that doesn’t want to completely go away, a slightly charred note that isn’t overly rough but does skew the finish. A bit of chalk comes into the flavor as the burn line hits where the bands would otherwise be, and not long after there’s a metallic twinge that joins the fray, quickly getting the Chamuco off the enjoyable path it seemed headed on not long ago.

Final Notes

  • If you’re into dogs, this page has some more information about the Chamuco breed.
  • The breed was developed in the 1970s, and its name is Spanish for devil, which refers to the breed’s temperament.
  • The Chamuco is not an American Kennel Club recognized breed and is said to often be bred in secret and used as a fighting dog.
  • Getting back to the cigar, I’m often curious as to how many people are aware of the effects that tar buildup may be having on a cigar. Thankfully it seems to be a situation that occurs few and far between, but the effects are unmistakable. If you see a bit of a gooey brown buildup on the head of the cigar while smoking it, try clipping it off and that should remedy things.
  • I generally like the presentation of the Chamuco, even though the gold on the bands is two distinct shades and there a number of different fonts being used.
  • The primary Headley Grange band still feels like a classic, seemingly drawing its inspiration from the La Escepción line that Habanos S.A. released as an Edición Regional for Italy.
  • There was quite a bit of variance in how covered the foot was; one had just enough extra tobacco to turn the corner, while the other two had enough that it felt like it had to be smushed down into place.
  • I found there to be little to no nicotine strength from the Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019, which with I’m perfectly fine.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was just under one hour and 45 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, and JR Cigar carry the Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019.
83 Overall Score

On paper, the Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019 seemed like a no-brainer for enjoyment: a Mexican San Andrés wrapper—one of my favorites—atop a Nicaraguan binder and filler. Yet, the results never lived up to what I hoped the cigar would deliver. The first one suffered from an off-putting tar flavor and an earth-gone-bad sensation, while the second and third samples took only small steps away from the profile. There are some good notes to be found in the cigar, particularly when the earth straightens itself out and pairs well with dark chocolate and black pepper, but they are all too few and far between to help this cigar shine. Instead, seemingly subdued notes dominate the bulk of the flavor, never waking up and delivering any significant amounts of depth or complexity. While the Headley Grange Chamuco LE 2019 isn't completely unenjoyable, it certainly doesn't live up to what the regular Headley Grange line delivers, which is ultimately a disappointing sentence to have to write about what should be an exciting and desirable limited edition.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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.

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