In December 2018, Crowned Heads debuted a new line named Juárez that was sold exclusively by Tampa-based retailer Thompson Cigar Co. After working with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in the Dominican Republic, My Father Cigars S.A. in Nicaragua and Drew Estate’s La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate factory in Nicaragua, the company’s new three vitola line was the first to be produced at a new factory, namely Tabacalera Pichardo, which was originally named Dhatuey Tobaccos when it was founded by Eradio Pichardo in 2005.
Dubbed Juárez, the new brand was inspired by a line in Johnny Cash’s version of the song “Cocaine Blues”, which tells the story of a man named Willy Lee who murders his unfaithful girlfriend after partaking in both whiskey and cocaine before fleeing to the town of Juarez, Mexico:
Got up next mornin’ and I grabbed that gun
Took a shot of cocaine and away I run
Made a good run but I run too slow
They overtook me down in Juarez Mexico.
Fast forward to July 2019, when Crowned Heads announced that the Juárez line would cease to be an exclusive and would be offered to all of the company’s accounts. Six months later came the news that a fourth vitola was being added, a 4 x 50 petit robusto named Juárez Shots XX that was not only the smallest cigar in the line but also the first to be released as a limited edition.
“In 2015 we released Jericho Hill Shots and followed that up in 2016 with La Imperiosa Minutos,” said Jon Huber, co-founder of Crowned Heads, in a press release. “Both of these releases were created specifically to address the need for short, quick smokes for the winter months. The reception we’ve received on Juárez since we released it last summer has been amazing, and I think existing Juárez fans are going to clamor for this little flavor bomb.”
As with the other vitolas in the line, the blend of the Juárez Shots XX is made up of a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder as well as filler tobaccos sourced from both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. However, while the three existing sizes are packaged in boxes of either 12 or 20 cigars, the Shots XX is being sold in cabinets of 50 with a retail price of $272.50—meaning each cigar sells for $5.45—with only 500 boxes released.
There are now four sizes available in the Juárez line:
- Juárez OBS (4 3/4 x 52) — $5.95 (Box of 20, $119) — Regular Production
- Juárez Willy Lee (6 x 54) — $6.95 (Box of 12, $83.40) — Regular Production
- Juárez Jack Brown (5 x 56) — $7.95 (Box of 20, $159) — Regular Production
- Juárez Shots XX (4 x 50) — $5.45 (Box of 50, $272.50) — 500 Boxes of 50 (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Cigar Reviewed: Juárez Shots XX
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Petit Robusto
- MSRP: $5.45 (Box of 50, $272.50)
- Release Date: February 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 50 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Like a lot of Mexican San Andrés-wrapped cigars, the Juárez Shots XX features a dark expresso, nearly black cover leaf that is smooth to the touch. There is a tiny amount of oil present as well as a couple of prominent veins running up and down the length, and I did detect a small soft spot just under the main band on one sample. The aroma from the wrapper is extremely sweet, including a combination of creamy oak, sweet raisins, bourbon, oak, leather, nutmeg, earth and a surprising amount of mint, while the cold draw is full of earth, leather, black pepper, hay, creamy oak, barnyard and peanuts with indeterminate sweetness.
The flavors come hot and heavy as soon as I toast the foot of the Crowned Heads, with the profile following the cold draw almost exactly, including a dominant earth and dark chocolate combination. Those flavors are interspersed with other notes of creamy oak, leather, roasted peanuts and hay. I also pick up both a large amount of pepper as well as a distinct raisin sweetness on the retrohale, while the finish has quite a bit of espresso beans. Both the burn and draw are excellent so far, and the smoke production off of the foot is both dense and virtually never-ending. Strength-wise, the Juárez starts out with a bang, but calms down fairly quickly, ending up between the mild and medium ranges by the time the first third comes to an end, albeit closer to medium.
Some significant changes show up during the second third of the Juárez Shots XX, starting with the dominant flavor, which has morphed into an alluring charred barbecue note followed by earth, dark chocolate, espresso beans, creamy oak, hay, leather and a touch of floral. In addition, the raisin sweetness on the retrohale has changed as well, this time to a distinct chocolate chip cookie note, although the black pepper seems content to stick around in about the same level. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress after a straight cut, but the burn has started to waver enough to need touching up, albeit just once. The smoke production continues to be extremely copious, while the overall strength increases enough to come very close to the medium mark by the time the second third ends.
The final third of the Shots XX is a virtual carbon copy of the second third including the same dominant charred barbecue flavor and the same chocolate chip cookie sweetness combined with black pepper on the retrohale. Lesser flavors of hay, espresso beans, leather, earth, peanuts, cream and oak flit in and out, but the floral note is long gone, never to return. Thankfully, the burn has evened up nicely after the one touchup while the draw remains fantastic, and the overall strength easily passes the medium mark just before I put the nub down with about an inch remaining.
- Unsurprisingly, the other three vitolas in the Juárez line were also taken either from “Cocaine Blues” or another song on the same album: Willy Lee is the name of the song’s protagonist; Jack Brown is the false name that Willy gives the sheriff when he is arrested; and OBS is a reference to another song on the album “At Folsom Prison,” Orange Blossom Special.
- The names OBS and Willy Lee are also used for cigars in Crowned Heads’ Jericho Hill line, which in turn also takes its name from “Cocaine Blues.” The sheriff who finally apprehended Willy in the song came from a town named Jericho Hill.
- If you have not heard of the Tabacalera Pichardo factory, don’t feel bad: it is a factory that has produced a number of smaller brands, including Roberto Duran’s Azan brand.
- The Juárez Shots XX was not only the first line extension in the Juarez brand, it was also Crowned Heads’ first small winter seasonal release since 2016.
- While the raisin sweetness I tasted in the first third is fairly common in cigars utilizing a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, both the chocolate chip cookie sweetness and the charred barbecue flavors are not.
- The construction was excellent for all three cigars, with only two samples needing one touchup each, albeit both in the second third.
- Cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time averaged one hour and 13 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Juárez Shots XX cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars have them in stock.
After starting off the first third with fairly standard—albeit well-balanced—flavors of raisin sweetness and overt earthiness, the Juárez Shots XX really comes into its own in the second third, with the aforementioned dominant flavors morphing to a wonderful combination of charred barbecue, black pepper and chocolate chip cookie sweetness that persist until the end of the cigar. As if that was not enough, there are three additional major points that should be mentioned, specifically the overall excellent construction, the great vitola size and the budget-friendly price point. I have been a fan of the vast majority of Crowned Heads releases since the company launched and the Juárez Shots XX makes it continues that trend.