Posted by Jack | in Crowned Heads | on 02 Sep 2013 | at 5:55 PM | 2413 views
With the completion of the IPCPR this summer there were four cigars I was most excited to try.  Already had the first one with the Surrogates Animal Cracker and now the second one has finally hit the shelves in my area.  The third release from Crowned Heads, the JD Howard Reserve.  I am sure you might know where the name comes from but just in case....Jesse James, the outlaw, not the motorcycle guy, used the alias of JD Howard when he decided to settle down in Nashville where Crowned Heads is based.  I love the way this company selects names for their cigars.  While the three releases they have to date do not share common names or themes, they do create a very well rounded portfolio of smokes.  On that note, let's see how this new and highly anticipated cigar is, shall we?
Oh, and the next two I am looking to try?  The Tatuaje No. 6 Halloween release and Drew Estate's KFC.
Construction: The band, which I usually don't cover up here - is simply gorgeous.  It is expertly vintage in appearance.  One might expect Jesse James to have puffed on this exact cigar back in the day.  The cigar itself is also very vintage looking.  The wrapper leaf is a toothy uniform brown with a few veins and no blemishes in sight.  Fairly light in hand like the Headley Grange too.
Pre-light Aroma and Draw: Like the rest of the Crowned Heads cigars the JDHR is not packed in cellophane.  So, out of the humidor, I am getting loads of spice - most notably a black pepper aroma.  There is a touch of cinnamon to it as well.  The draw is flawless.
Light and Burn: Lighting is easy as you might imagine but the burn starts off frighteningly crooked and quick thanks to this wonderful Xenia wind. I didn't get anything close to an even burn until an inch into the cigar - which took a shockingly short time to get to, I must say.  At the half-way point the burn finally levels off perfectly.  It also slows down considerably once you get to the middle.
Tasting: Starting off, the JD Howard Reserve is very woody and earthy.
Underlying notes of dry cedar and red pepper start off the first third.  I am getting a blueberry like flavor in the mix but that overall woody character prevails over everything.  Flavors are dense and very well balanced.
The middle of the cigar is even more woody and peppery with a nice creamy smoothness.  This one is easily one of the woodiest I have tasted in recent memory.  It is a more primal woody flavor than the hickory smoke of the Leccia Black.  Something in this cigar really makes me think of cigars I smoked way back in the early 00's.
The final third arrives with more of that smooth woody flavor.  This cigar has a new flavor for me in the final third.  It's a mineral flavor that reminds me of the smell of stone or gravel.  Couple that with the heavy wood and a touch of red pepper and you have one of the more unusual cigars on the market today.  As the JDHR nubs on me, I get a creamy coffee and cocoa note that actually surprised me.  A really nice surprise mixed with the woody core.
Value: At about $10 for each size, the JD Howard is on par with the prices of the Headley Grange and a tad more than the Four Kicks.
Final Thoughts:    I read a pre-release review last spring wherein the reviewer called it the best cigar they had ever had.  I can't say that....yet.  It always seems to take me a couple of tries for each Crowned Heads release before I really catch on to how good they are...and now the Headley and Four Kicks are some of my favorite cigars anywhere.   I am already planning a second trip into the JD Howard Reserve line.  It certainly shows a lot of promise and I think it will only get better with age.  For me, this is going to be a good Fall weather cigar sitting around the fire pit with my Dad.  Recommended for sure.
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Size: 5 x 54
The JDHR is a really nice looking cigar
That vintage look is just terrific
The band is beautiful.  Being a graphic designer, it takes a lot to impress me and this one does.
Something you don't see in a lot of reviews....the back of the band.  Love the flourishes and the colors.
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