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Jericho Hill Willy Lee by Crowned Heads

Jericho Hill Willy Lee 1Size: 6 inches x 54 ring gauge

Everybody loves an underdog story – the one where the little guy beats the odds and comes up a big winner. That's a classic American tale, and that's also the story of Crowned Heads. In 2011, John Huber and a few of his co-workers at CAO (in Nashville) decided to strike out on their own when the parent company was purchased and plans to move its headquarters were announced. Given the state of the economy at the time, it was a risky move. One can only imagine the difficulty of starting a cigar company from scratch. It's lucky for us they knew the business. Against the odds, and in less than four years, the little guys hit it big.

The group drew inspiration from a Nashville band, Kings of Leon, and the lyrics to one of the band’s songs, Four Kicks. The fledgling boutique cigar company became ‘Crowned Heads’ (a sly reference to the band), and its first release was called ‘Four Kicks’. In fact, most of CH releases' names refer to particular songs or musical acts. Those full lines – I believe there are seven now (it's hard to keep up with them) – are made at the My Father's factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Crowned Heads first came to my attention not in a magazine or catalog, but through social media. And that type of cutting edge marketing is indicative of the company’s style. ‘Carve your own path’ is one of the company's hashtags. With their successful product launches and distinct style, Huber and friends have definitely carved their own unique path in cigar culture. In 2014, Jericho Hill became the company's fourth full-line release. It was met with immediate acclaim and praise. Having experienced their other offerings, I figured it was time I saw what all the fuss was about.

First, the story of the name… The Jericho Hill Willy Lee gets its name from a Johnny Cash song, Cocaine Blues, wherein the outlaw Willy Lee – down in Mexico – is brought to justice by the sheriff from Jericho Hill.

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The Willy Lee is a 6 x 54, box-pressed, Maduro Toro (or Corona Gorda, depending on the terminology one prefers). Its silky Mexican San Andres wrapper is the gorgeous color of dark chocolate, and slightly rumpled. Looking at the foot, one can see two distinct leaves in the Nicaraguan filler.  Let it be noted that the binder is also from Nicaragua. The squeeze test result is good, with the cigar having just the right amount of sponginess. The heft of my sample feels good – not too heavy, not too light. I've found that pressed cigars sometimes are a little light and loose. This one, however, is packed right.

The pre-light smell is sweet and floral in nature. I use a torch to slowly toast and then light the cigar. A punch-cut allows for an easy draw and plenty of smoke. The even burn lasts 41 minutes to the band, and 49 minutes to the nub. The ash is medium-gray with even segments. 

When I begin puffing away, the first thing I notice about the Jericho Hill Willy Lee is its sweetness. For a while, it is difficult for me to discern the dominant flavors. That indicates to me that this is a complex smoke. Throughout the course of the cigar, I notice pepper-spice and cinnamon. There is some wood and leather too, but no single characteristic jumps out at me. Overall, this is a medium to full-bodied cigar. And while it begins boldly enough, it's not too powerful or brash. The flavors do get more intense during the second half.

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So, how does the Jericho Hill Willy Lee by Crowned Heads grade out? Using the Cigar Weekly scoring system, this is what I’ve come up with:

Pre-Light: 9.5

Light: 9
Draw: 9
Construction: 9
Flavor: 9
Power: 9
Average: 9.1

Alright… 9.1. That's a righteous score for a righteous cigar. Obviously, I like it. And I recommend it to you. The Jericho Hill Willy Lee by Crowned Heads is a superior cigar – a gem from the little guys who beat the odds and came up big. The unit price of this one is about $10.