Cigar Review: The CHC Serie E 5150 from Crowned Heads Really Got Me

The Serie E was, according to Jon Huber, “sonically inspired by the guitar solo ‘Eruption’ from Eddie Van Halen in 1978 [on] the original Van Halen album.” Jon goes on to describe how the cutting, toasting and toasting of the cigar are a metaphor for the bass guitar and drums at the beginning; the majority of the solo “Eruption” is like the layers found in the middle of the cigar; and the end of the solo where it bottoms out is a metaphor for how the cigar lingers on your palate. Working music references into his craft is nothing new for Jon or Crowned Heads, but this hits different, at least for me, because of how recent Eddie Van Halen’s passing is. 

While the Crowned Heads CHC Serie E isn’t out yet, I was lucky enough to get my hands on some at this year’s PCA Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Honestly, I vacillated on whether or not to do this review before the cigar went to market. Obviously, I finally landed on putting the review out there. My main reason for that is that the CHC Serie E was one of the best cigars we had tried at the PCA Trade Show. The other reason is that I’ve heard some reviewers say that the Serie E is an amped up version of the Mil Dias. While I can see where that comparison could be made, I feel like the Serie E stands on its own in a very big way.

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   5150
SIZE:   5-1/2″ x 50

ORIGIN:   Nicaragua
FACTORY:   Tabacalera Pichardo

WRAPPER:   Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
BINDER:   Nicaraguan
FILLER:   Nicaraguan

STRENGTH:   Medium+ – Medium-Full

SOURCE:   
[source]

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
On my back deck.

WHEN:   
Aug 24 @1:30PM

DRINKS:   
Ice Mountain bottled water.

WEATHER:   
93° & 54% humidity

WHAT’S ON:   
Listenting to “Eruption” from the album Van Halen.

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  September 2021

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 20
Production Totals:  Unknown

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
o  5150  (5-1/2″ x 50)
Hermosa no. 2  (6-1/8″ x 48)
Petite Edmundo  (4-3/8″ x 52)
Sublime  (6-1/2″ x 54)

BAND DESIGN

The band of the Crowned Heads CHC Serie E is nothing short than an homage to the Eddie Van Halen’s iconic red, white, and black “Frankenstrat” guitar that he used. The front of the band displays the “Crowned Heads Court” (what loyal fans of Crowned Heads are referred to) logo. Adorned in red, white and black (a nod to the aforementioned “Frankenstrat”) with gold accents, the band is a looker. However, there are white and black lines on the side are made to resemble the same lines found on Eddie’s iconic guitar. 

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION
The wrapper is a dark caramel color and smooth to the touch. There are several veins and small bumps that are easily visible on the wrapper. The oils slightly glisten as the hot sun beats down on it.

AROMA
When I pulled the Serie E out of my humidor, I could not smell anything from the cigar, other than cedar and tobacco. However, as the Serie E has sat in the heat of the August sun, the smells come alive! Milk chocolate, barnyard, cedar, and a hint of vanilla waft from the cigar.

COLD DRAW
The draw is a bit on the open side with just enough resistance where I don’t think there will be a problem. The second c5150 I smoked has more resistance to it. Notes of chocolate, sweet tobacco, and hay jump from the cold draw. There is a slight spiciness to it.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  Xikar Xi3
Fire:  Xikar Tactical 1
There is a lot of pepper and spice on the initial light and retrohale. Baking spices dance on the tongue as a rich caramel flavor washes over my palate. It is a very bold start and one that almost overwhelms my senses. If the cut and toast was the initial bass and drums, then this start makes sense. The flavors come fast and furious with pepper and spice. The sweetness of the caramel quickly turns to milk chocolate. The smoke is abundant and pleasing. The burn line isn’t razor sharp but nothing that causes concern.

SMOKE
The smoke is creamy and rich, coating my palate on the first few puffs. There are no billows of smoke coming from the Serie E, but with each puff the creamy smoke seems to explode onto my palate. 

FIRST THIRD
>> Baking Spices, Black Pepper, Caramel

The Serie E begins with baking spices and vanilla, with a rich caramel lurking underneath. The bite of pepper stings my nose on the first few retrohales, making sure it has grabbed my attention. Halfway through my first third, the retrohale becomes less biting and more smooth. The creaminess of the smoke intertwines with a nutty note and the underlying flow of decadent caramel. The burn is fairly straight and standing up to the late summer breeze cooling me off as I sit in the sun. The ash is grey with streaks of black, and fairly compact. It is holding strong. Salt joins the flavor party, enhancing the nuts and caramel. What was black pepper on the retrohale has turned into a nice red pepper. There is an earthiness that starts to come forward. Deep and rich. Melding itself with the nuttiness and juxtaposing itself against the sweetness that lurks in the background.

SECOND THIRD
>> Nuts, Pepper, Mushroom

The middle third of the Serie E begins with wood and white pepper on the retrohale. There is a sweetness that still lingers on my palate as the Serie E transitions. The earthiness that started to emerge at the end of the first third has amped itself up to a pleasant musty, almost mushroom type note. The sweetness that was lurking in the background has given way to the umami found in the mushroom flavor. Salted nuts round out the initial flavors. A tangy, almost vanilla-esque, sweetness finds its way to this symphony of flavors. The ash is still compact and not overly flakey. The burn line is still straight, but ever-so-wavy. With each puff the smoke billows forth but immediately subsides as I set it down. The 5150 is a powerhouse of flavors and a master of complexity. Black pepper starts to ramp up on the retrohale. The creaminess of the smoke gives way as the wood note starts to become more of a campfire. Milk chocolate appears on my palate. The changes start to come quickly as this middle third progresses. I remove the band and deposit the ash in the tray, no longer feeling like pushing my luck. 

FINAL THIRD
>> flavor, flavor, flavor

Caramel, campfire, and black pepper start this final third. Salted nuts continue to play in the background. The umami note holds on but is subtle and in the background, allowing the slight bitterness of the campfire to headbang next to the caramel. The Serie E begins to lose the straight burn line it kept throughout the first two thirds. Perhaps, due to the wind. Perhaps due to my greediness and attempt to savor the cigar. It is of little concern. Each puff brings fort copious amounts of smoke that fill my mouth and coat my palate with an experience that I don’t want to have to end. Baking spices suddenly breakthrough. A deep richness of flavors, both savory and sweet, accompany the baking spices. An almost meaty quality with the a touch of dark chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. There is an element of freshly baked bread that adds, yet another layer of complexity and nuance to this cigar. As I draw near to the end of the Serie E, it begins to ramp up the flavor and spice. Caramel, baking spices, and charred wood shine through as the spotlight begins to fade on this rockstar. 

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION

The Serie E is a rockstar! It bangs out notes with the precision and fury of Eddie Van Halen. The complexity of the cigar is on full display from beginning to end. Baking spices, wood, vanilla, chocolate, and caramel tangle effortlessly with notes of rich umami, nuts, and baked bread. The Serie E winds itself up and slows itself down in a way that would make Eddie Van Halen proud.

BURN EXPERIENCE
The burn was never an issue, especially in the first two thirds of the Serie E. The burn was straight, though a tiny bit wavy and become a tad unstable in the final third. No touchups or relights were necessary.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.78 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.45 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.30 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.46 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

THE SERIE E 5150 IS AN ERUPTION OF FLAVOR.

Getting away from the obvious musical inspiration that the Serie E draws upon, the 5150 (a great nod to one of my favorite Van Halen albums of all time) is a cigar that will leave you wanting more. This was in my top 5 most anticipated cigars I smoked at the 2021 PCA Trade Show for a reason. It’s a smooth smoke that is full of flavor. The complexity and nuance you’ll find in the Serie E is a great tribute to its namesake. Tabacalara Pichardo is putting out some really great cigars right now, and the CHC Serie E 5150 from Crowned Heads is one of the best.

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.49 / 10.0

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