Crowned Heads LLC, the boutique Nashville, Tennessee company behind Four Kicks and Headley Grange cigars, is putting the final touches on a third brand scheduled to debut at the International Premium Cigar & Pipes Retailers trade show this summer.
The smoke has been dubbed J.D. Howard Reserve, a nod to the nom de guerre of one of America's most famous outlaws, Jesse James.
"My wife used to tell me that Jesse James lived in Nashville," Jon Huber, one of the co-founders of Crowned Heads, told Cigar Aficionado yesterday. "Over Christmas she gave me a book, the history about Nashville. There was this whole chapter on Jesse James."
James is best known for his legendary life of crime robbing trains and banks across the Wild West in the years after the U.S. Civil War, but for a time he lived a relatively quiet life in Nashville under the assumed last name of Howard. (Most sources site his first name at the time as J.D., others as Thomas.) Huber was taken by the notion that James lived in his city, and thought he saw an opportunity to name the cigar after James' relatively obscure alias.
"There's a fine line when you're inspired by something, and when you're making it obvious and gimmicky," Huber said. "This is a very subtle homage and inspiration--no guns, no wanted posters. People will ask, ‘Who is J.D. Howard? It's not going got be obvious."
The cigar, as with all Crowned Heads projects, is being made by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo at his Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The blend consists of a dark, Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper, a binder of Ecuadoran Sumatra (one of Perez-Carrillo's favorite leaves) and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.
J.D. Howard Reserve, which Huber describes as medium to full bodied, will come in five sizes, four of them parejos, each of them named for the ring gauge of the smoke. The HR46 measures 6 inches long by 46 ring; the HR48 is sort of a slim robusto, 5 by 48; HR52 is 6 by 52; and the HR54 is 5 by 54. The lone figurado in the group is the HR50, measuring 5 5/8 inches long with a 50 ring gauge at its fattest point. It's a beautiful looking figurado, an old size known as an Aguilas. Due to the shape, there will be fewer HR50s made than the others.
Prices are still being determined, and Crowned Heads hasn't settled on a final design for the boxes and bands.
Crowned Heads has only been in business since early 2011, but it's off to a fast start. The company's debut brand, Four Kicks, has scored an average 89.8 points in Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider tastings, and the Headley Grange (brand No. 2) scored 91 points for its debut size, and made it to Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 list.
Look for the first rating of the new cigars in a future issue of Cigar Insider.