The wrapper was too dark...it’s virtually the same quality as the normal leaf they bought, but it was just too dark to put on the regular line. What to do? According to the info on their website, Jon Huber and Mike Conder had a quick discussion with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo about the matter and they came to the conclusion that they should use this batch of wrapper leaf for a “limited edition” small run. So the Ecuadorian Habano originally purchased for use on Four Kicks became the starting place for the Limited Edition 2012 version of Four Kicks, called the Mule Kick. They started with essentially the same Nicaraguan filler and binder, too, before adding a little more ligero to make the blend a little punchier (Five Kicks, maybe?). Word is that only
1,000 500 boxes of 10 were produced of this blend; they were offered to Crowned Heads’ first batch of customers first and they went quickly. I purchased one box from Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga; this review sample was the third stick I have smoked from that box. (Note: Jon from Crowned Heads contacted me to let me know that the correct number of boxes that were produced was 500, not 1,000, making a total of 5,000 Mule Kicks cigars.)
About now you may be wondering, “Why did it take you so long to get this cigar reviewed? After all, they’ve been gone from store shelves for 6 weeks or more by the time this review publishes.” So the straight up truth on the matter is this: when I bought them, I wasn’t sure I would review them at all. I hit Burns on a Friday I had off and Matt told me these were in; I bought a box and immediately lit one up...and waited for it to set my world on fire...and waited and waited. And I finished that first cigar and wondered, “What the heck happened? That really didn’t taste much like the Four Kicks I fell in love with a year ago!” The draw was tight and the flavor was just...flat. I thought it might just be me, though, so I kept my opinion quiet that day. About a week later I lit up another one and...Wow!...what a difference a week can make! The draw was better and the flavor was much brighter. I texted Keith about it and he expressed that his first sample had a tight draw, too, and that he felt it was way too wet upon arrival to his house. I remembered that wet cigars often have a muted, sort of “flat” flavor and the added moisture leads to tight, sometimes unsmokeable draws, and I realized that must have been the case. On both of my previous samples, the wrapper had ended up cracking as I smoked, I believe because they were over-humidified and swelled up even more as they heated, cracking the leaf. With all that in mind, I purposed to wait several more weeks until I smoked another one...after all, these were not cheap and I only had 8 more total for all time! Why waste any if I expected them to smoke better after a little resting time? The upshot is...you probably won’t be able to find these anywhere. There might be a box of two floating around at some random shop, but almost everyone sold out within a day or two of the cigars arriving in-house. You might get them in forum or friend trades or purchases, but I would expect these will be hoarded by collectors and fanatics (I know I will be doing so).
For starters the Mule Kick’s packaging and appearance is nicely done. The box is sort of a variation on the original Four Kicks packaging, flattened out for 10 cigars, but still maintaining the burned-in look of the type and art on the plain cedar box. They started with the regular Four Kicks band, still an artistic wonder that some people have been fooled into thinking is “simple”...taking a good look at the embossing on this thing, I can tell you it’s anything but simple. The second band is sort of a traditional Cuban-style thing that just reads “Limited Edition 2012.” Take that band off and throw it in your humidor with the rest of the Four Kicks and you’ll have trouble telling it apart...well, except the size is unique...and the wrapper color is a little darker. Speaking of that...how much darker is it? I would say, “Enough.” If you don’t have a regular FK sitting next to it, the MK doesn’t seem all that dark, but I put together a FK from the original November 2011 release next to this and the difference is readily apparent. So...yes, you will be able to tell it apart from the the other FKs when it’s swimming around in your humidor. I would recommend not doing that, though, because these un-cello’d cigars will crack, split and break easily while you’re rifling through these to get to stuff buried beneath. The best way to keep these naked sticks is in their original box. This Ecadorian Habano leaf seemed a little oilier to the touch than the original as well, although it didn’t have much shininess to the eye. Putting it to the nose, I got notes of molasses and hay, along with a little cedar; the foot had an earthier aroma to it. After clipping the crowned head of this cigar, I got a very good draw that was packed with earthy flavor along with a good bit of molassesy sweetness.
When lit, the Mule Kick poured out clouds of thick smoke and had a flavor very similar to the original release Four Kicks: creamy, with a molasses and hay notes, a little cedar. But then there was that extra kick...a little more earthy and a bit spicier on the nose than the original blend. Where the original blend is a straight ahead medium-bodied smoke, this had just a touch more body at the outset...call it "medium-plus." The first third smoked straight and the ash held on a long time...after I had dropped cigar on myself early on, anyway, obliterating the first quarter inch. The flavor was not surprisingly very reminiscent of the Four Kicks, but I would say it was closer to what I experienced in the Corona Gorda than to what I had in the Robusto, which is my favorite size of the original blend. Lots of creamy sweetness, but a little more body and earthiness. The pepper spice settled down to almost a "none" level by the end of the first third.
In the second third, the Mule Kick lost a little of its sweetness in exchange for an increase in earthy Nicaraguan flavor. The retrohale was nutty and devoid of pepper spice at this point. There was also an increase in cedar notes. Construction proved to be excellent after I had let these cigars rest a little. The draw was excellent, the burn line was extremely straight with no touch ups and the ash was solid for an inch or more.
In the last third, the Mule Kick remained primarily earthy with touches of molasses sweetness, cedar and maple from time to time. The final verdict: these needed to rest a few weeks after purchase. Maybe they were too wet when they shipped, but when brought down to a proper level of humidity the flavor shone as much as the original Four Kicks did when it shipped. Truly a great cigar on its own and a worthy addition to the Crowned Heads catalog...assuming it becomes a regular part of that catalog, that is, instead of just a one-time-only release. Will it ever be the exact same? That depends...mostly on whether they can get the exact same tobaccos again AND whether they roll it in the same vitola. I've got seven sticks left. Several will be put away for long-term aging to ensure that I get to enjoy them for quite a while to come. If you find any that some store has put away and forgotten about...buy them! If you're lucky they won't charge you more than MSRP, which is a steal for a great LE like this.