- Vitola: Robusto
- 5” x 50 ring gauge
- Purchased at Burns Tobacconist
Has it really been 5 years? For some things it’s been longer…six years ago, many of us in Tennessee were mourning the change in our Nashville-born-and-bred cigar company, CAO, which had gone from family-owned to relatively-big-corporation-owned to corporate-behemoth-owned-and-moving-to-Virginia. The people behind the brand weren’t done, though, and just a few months after the big change, Crowned Heads was formed. Their first cigar was Four Kicks, created with Ernest Perez-Carrillo, and winner of my Cigar of the Year award for 2012 (when we were still publishing under the Tiki Bar Online banner). Time has not diminished how I feel about that cigar.
Many blends later, Crowned Heads has come back to their original Four Kicks blend and produced a Maduro version. It uses the same Nicaraguan filler and binder as the original, but instead of the original Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, they are using a Connecticut-grown Habano Maduro leaf.
The original Four Kicks started in Corona Gorda, Robusto, Sublime and Pyramide vitolas. This time, they replaced the Pyramide with the Robusto Extra (a size introduced later in the original blend’s life). bit the other three remain the same. Four Kicks Maduro was announced at the 2017 IPCPR show and expected to ship in August, but it was delayed until September, when E.P. Carrillo decided they weren’t ready to ship, and they were delayed again, finally shipping in November. I applaud the decision to not ship the cigars before they were deemed ready…too often companies ship a product before it is really at its best. They may make money up front, but disappointed customers are difficult to woo back for a second try.
I bought a few of these at Burns Tobacconist, including this review sample, which I believe is the third time I’ve smoked this blend.
Overall design remains the same for the Maduro version of Four Kicks. Instead of natural wood with black print on the boxes, the boxes are a dark red with gold foil lettering and artwork. The bands feature the same deeply embossed gold foil as the original, but instead of the red centerpiece in the band, the print is black (with white reverse-out lettering).
The wrapper on this stick was oily and almost espresso-roast bean brown in color. It had so much oil to it, I could feel it on my fingers afterwards, like some of the older Liga Privada T52s I remember (which use a similar Connecticut Habano leaf). The wrapper smelled earthy and leathery, while the foot had more earthiness with a little sweet grassiness wrapped up in there.
I clipped the head and got an excellent cold draw that was sweet and spicy, earthy and leathery.
The Four Kicks Maduro begins with a full-bodied mix of leather and earth up front, along with a high cacao dark chocolate bitter sweetness and some red pepper flake coming in right behind. Blowing smoke through my nose, I picked up more pepper spice, along with coffee and roasted nuts. Just starting off, it’s really hard to believe the only difference on this cigar is the wrapper leaf…it’s just so much more full-bodied than the original. The flavor sweet and spicy flavors I got in the original blend are amplified and different here. As the first third burned, sweeter flavors of chocolate and dried fruit started to gain more prominence.
Smoking through the second third, the dark chocolate and fruit notes were right up front, with pepper still giving a constant burn and earth and leather notes providing a solid undercurrent.
The leathery notes came to the forefront in the last third, with the sweeter chocolate and fruit notes coming in just behind and earthiness and peppery burn becoming more of a finishing characteristic.
I had to touch up the burn line a few times, but nothing out of reason for a Maduro wrapper. The draw was excellent and the ash was solid.
Five years, FDA meddling and a wrapper grown in the USA all have a place in why this cigar is a buck or so more than the original blend. It’s a very fine smoking experience, though, so I think it’s worth it.
The Four Kicks Maduro is definitely a great follow-up to the original Crowned Heads blend, providing an excellent complexity and balance of flavors while giving much more body, sweetness and pepper spice than the natural-wrapped version. This cigar won’t be as accessible to everyone because it’s just not something I would recommend to novice smokers, but for someone who already enjoys the original, this is a great example of what a different wrapper leaf can bring. And for those who didn’t really care for the original (I know…those people are a little crazy!), they might find something they really enjoy here.