“I wish we could blend a cigar that tastes like the first six seconds of ‘When the Levee Breaks’ sounds.” That comment, uttered by Jon Huber of Crowned Heads LLC, resulted in the creation of Headley Grange, a one-size (for now) cigar brand that had its public debut two weeks ago in Orlando, and will start shipping to cigar stores in mid-September.
The first six seconds of “When the Levee Breaks,” a 1971 cover tune by Led Zeppelin from Led Zeppelin IV, is defined by a heavy drumbeat. The sound was recorded in a British building called Headley Grange. There, John Bonham’s drum kit was set up in a stairwell and caught with a microphone set high above to give it a memorable sound that intrigued Huber.
It’s quite unusual to blend a cigar based on a drum beat. Huber wanted a cigar that matched the drums, which he called “dark and ominous,” and turned to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, a former drummer who had previously made Crowned Heads’ first cigar brand, Four Kicks, which was considerably lighter.
The blending began in October 2011, and was originally dubbed project HG. Perez-Carrillo made many, many samples of the cigar in his Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic—so many that he threatened to take the final one for himself if Crowned Heads wanted still more changes.
The cigar was shown at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in early August. The samples were heavy, rich and extremely flavorful.
Headley Grange is made with an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, and is otherwise entirely Nicaraguan. The first size in the brand, a 5 1/2 inch long, 52 ring gauge called Estupendo, will be the sole size released in 2012, and will cost $9.25. More sizes will follow in 2013.