COVERING YOUR ASH: HEADLEY GRANGE ESTUPENDOS

Headley Grange is the sophomore release from Crowned Heads, a digitally progressive company out of Nashville, and maker of my all-time favorite under-$10 smoke, the Four Kicks Sublime. The inspiration for this cigar comes from a drum beat in the song “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, who recorded at the former poorhouse turned recording studio, Headley Grange, in England.

Cigar Stats: The crew at Crowned Heads decided to stick with a winning combination and teamed up again with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. at the Tabacalera La Alianza factory in the Dominican Republic. The blend profile consists of Nicaraguan tobaccos for the filler and binder, surrounded by an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Released in one size last year, it is now offered in five vitolas – Eminentes (5.25” x 44), Corona Gorda (5.675” x 46), Hermoso No. 4 (5” x 48), Dobles (6.125” x 50), and Estupendos (5.5” x 52), with a suggested retail range of $7.95-$9.45. I sampled the 2012 release, Estupendos.

Appearance: The Estupendos has a soft box-press but is packed well from head to foot. The medium-brown wrapper is dry and absent any oils, with tiny veins and a decent amount of tooth to it. The band is simple, retro, and just plain cool.

The Smoke: There’s a touch of spice at the start, along with tobacco and leather, but the flavor profile soon develops into a mild creaminess, with wood and a bit more spice. At just past halfway, the leather comes back to join the wood, with a hint of almonds and some roasted coffee. A spike in the spice is the only change that occurs near the end of the stick. Throughout the review, the Estupendos produces tons of thick smoke while holding a solid ash and keeping an even burn line.

Verdict: Paired with a Samuel Adams Summer Ale (in a can!) the Headley Grange proved to be a perfect compliment to the lighter brew, with its big, bold and rich flavors balancing perfectly against the zesty citrus of the Boston beer. But, with or without a beverage, I highly reccommend you give one a try ... you will not be disappointed. To learn more about the Headley Grange line, visit www.crownedheads.com. – Jason Zahner

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