Our Top 25 Cigars of 2018 are announced: these are the year’s best smokes, each a new-for 2018 release that more than impressed us…they left a mark. If you’re feeling adventurous for new cigars to try, here’s a quick n’ tidy recap of the selections we think are totally worth your time.
Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle Cigar Review: Video
Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle Cigar Review: Cigar Advisor Review Panel
Four Kicks was released to the world a few years ago; much fanfare ensued. Each of its six sizes smokes medium-full, touting an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper leaf draped over a heaping mix of Nicaraguan tobaccos – and all set the taste buds awash in flavor. That’s not just us; Crowned Heads fans gushed with excitement about this smoke from Day 1, with praise much more effusive than ours. So here’s the thing…often, when a cigar maker hits on a winner, he’s off and running to try something totally different and new. Rarely do they do what Jon Huber did to Four Kicks: circle back to the original blend, and tinker. Seems he’s always been wondering how much his cigar’s flavor would change, simply by making it with a different wrapper…and finally, the right leaf came along: a juicy Connecticut broadleaf maduro. Here’s the catch: limited in production and availability, our Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle cigar review panel only had one size to choose from, a 5 5/8 x 46 Corona Gorda. Think a simple wrapper change won’t make much of a difference? Watch and see – as the Advisors have taken it to the woodshed for a full taste test. See the video now – and check out our Black Belt Buckle cigar review tasting notes below!
The Stats: Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle Corona Gorda
Country of Origin/Factory: Dominican Republic / Tabacalera La Alianza
Size: 5 5/8″ x 46
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler & Binder: Nicaraguan
Construction and Overall Appearance: Attractive with a slightly rustic appearance. Beautifully made. Rolled firmly. Wrapper is toothy, thick and even-hued with no excessive veins. Cap clipped evenly in a perfect circle.
Draw (airflow): Very good.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Leather and sweet tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Excellent.
First few puffs: Sweet, earthy and spicy.
Retrohale: Nice. Earthy, spicy, and peppery.
Base flavors: Earth, sweet spice, charred wood.
Aroma: Sharp & sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Even. Firm grey ash with black stripes.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
- Well made. No soft spots. Wrap is firm, but not overly tight.
- Cap is well done and clips-off neatly.
- Flavors of sweet spice, earth and charry-woody flavors form the base.
- Smoke builds from medium to full. Smoke is moderately complex and the flavors remain consistent throughout.
- The smoke was much bolder in the last third, making for a headier smoke, but never turned bitter.
It’s interesting what you can accomplish by simply replacing the wrapper on a given filler and binder blend. I thought the original Four Kicks was a pretty good smoke, but the version we smoked for this Black Belt Buckle cigar review – with the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper – is right in my wheelhouse; sweet, earthy, perfectly balanced…the whole schmear. I liked everything about this cigar; from the excellent construction, to the 55/8” x 46 Corona Gorda shape in which the proportion of filler to wrapper is perfect, making it consistently flavorful from end-to-end without becoming too strong or turning bitter.
New cigar smokers may find the Black Belt Buckle a bit on the heavy side, and regardless of experience, I’d recommend this cigar be smoked in the afternoon or evening. However, for those who love robust, full-flavored Nicaraguan leaf blends, this cigar is one for the “must smoke” list. I just couldn’t find anything wrong with it.
Well, there is one downside: Only 1,000 boxes of the Corona Gorda were made, so once they’re gone, that’s all she wrote. Kudos to Crowned Heads, who now have another fine cigar in their stable that they can be proud of. I know I’ll be picking up a few more of these.
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John’s Tasting Notes: Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle
Construction and Overall Appearance: very firm construction
Draw: densely packed, the draw was a bit on the hard side
Pre-light flavor: sweet tobacco, dark flavors
Toasting & Light: relatively easy
Base flavors: tobacco, honey, coffee, wood
Burn / Ash Quality: decent burn line, decent smoke output
Balance of flavors: a wide array of flavors
Consistency: relative consistency,
As I noted above, the Black Belt Buckle cigar I reviewed was densely packed – making for a bit of a tough draw. As it is, this Corona Gorda is on the smaller end of my preferred ring gauge…so it’s really important with a cigar like this to pace yourself, take shallower draws, and take your time – otherwise you might over-smoke it and get it too hot.
What a difference a wrapper can make. The original Four Kicks blend was a little outside my wheelhouse – those I’ve smoked seemed a little dry. But with the addition of Black Belt Buckle’s Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper leaf, the blend has been enhanced with thicker and juicier flavors. And what struck me most about the Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle was the vast array of them – I’m not convinced to necessarily categorize that as complex, but I’d say it’s more diverse, only because of their lingering consistency throughout. On lighting, a big smack of sweet tobacco flavor coupled with honey and chocolate, with a warm spiciness to boot; by halfway, the pepper mellowed and made way for grassy and woody flavors, like hickory, along with a creamy coffee that took over. But it didn’t take long for the Nicaraguan tobaccos to punch back with that warm pepper sensation.
Medium body to start, as those woody flavors took over the body mellowed out; by the end of the 2/3 mark, body and strength both ramped up towards full to finish it off.
All in all, a good smoke – and with the new wrapper, this is one I’ll revisit.
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Jonathan’s Tasting Notes: Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle Cigar Review
Draw: Easy going.
First few puffs: Immediately hit with flavor.
Base flavors: It’s a very deep woody taste with some natural sweetness on the back end from a fruity taste.
Aroma: Smokey. It was almost like a campfire.
Burn/Ash: Great burn all the way through. Perhaps one of the best burning cigars I’ve had in a very long time.
Balance of Flavor: The balance is good. Nothing was too overpowering or underperforming. Overall, it’s very well balanced.
Consistency: Great from one cigar to the next. I experienced the same flavors from one to another.
This cigar isn’t a looker, but what it lacks in appearance, it more than makes up for in flavor and burn.
This is a strong smoke with a load of heavy flavors from start to finish. Mild cigar smokers beware: this cigar will most likely be too strong for you! Though if you love stronger offerings, this is a cigar you need to try. Woody, sweet, and ashy are the flavors you’ll experience which would go perfectly with a dry red wine or spicier whiskey pairing. I wouldn’t recommend smoking this cigar in the morning or on an empty stomach.
Positives: Great taste and burn.
Negatives: Not extremely complex. The base flavors remain in the same proportions throughout the smoke.
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes: Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle
Construction and Overall Appearance: Toothy
Base flavors: Charred wood, dark coffee and plum
Burn / Ash Quality: Solid burn and ash
Since the beginning of my cigar smoking days, I’ve always been a sucker for Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapped cigars. Well, now I’ve become a sucker for the Black Belt Buckle, mainly because it’s just got so much damned flavor – you know, one of those cigars that really lets you know you’re smoking one.
The first thing to tell you is that it’s not a smooth and pretty looking stick, like a silky Davidoff or Dunhill. The wrapper is toothy and tough looking – a brawny darkened Broadleaf that gives it some serious visual character. But like the old saying goes, “Don’t let the looks fool you” because this is one hell of a flavorful hand rolled cigar.
This beast basically jumps out of the gate like a bucking stallion, pouncing the palate with notes of charred wood and black pepper. Now don’t let that fool you either, because it’s not a heavy, unpleasant smack to the taste buds, but rather an enjoyably complex mix of notes. And it settles down about a half inch in getting very woody with dark coffee, chocolate flavors, and a touch of plum fruit as well.
This is one of those cigars that is meant to be paired with a very hearty whiskey, a rich Cab or a peppery Shiraz, as well as foods like grilled steak, bbq ribs or a spicy bowl of chili – mainly because the body and flavor profile will hold up the entire time. It’s not by any means a smoke for the beginner, but rather a treat for the guy that always goes bold in whatever he does.
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