One of the newest cigar companies to join the field is a small company right here in my own backyard – Crooked Diamond Cigars. The name was aptly picked by brand owner Larry Lawton, a reformed jewelry thief that spent over a decade in federal prisons for his crimes. Ever since his release and doing the hard time, he turned around and set up programs to teach the youth in our country to steer away from crime; Reality Check Program. He has done so well that he was even honored as first ex-con to be sworn in as an honorary police officer in the city of Lake Saint Louis Missouri.
I recently had Larry on my Taking It To The Nub show and we got deep into his life and eventually got into talking about his latest journey into the premium cigar market with his cigar brand – Crooked Diamond Cigars which are made by the Oliva Cigar Company.
Of course Larry is not new to cigars, he has been smoking them for over 40 years.
As Larry explains:
“I wanted to take one of my favorite things and share it with the world and what a better way to do it than blending a premium cigar named after my biggest mistakes and twisting it into a positive which, by now I’m sure you know I thrive on. Inclusivity, Positivity and good choices are what I’d like to bring to the world. Smoking cigars is a social or personal experience that relaxes you and brings you to a great end for every day.“
Larry’s inaugural blend (Diamond Edition) is expressed in 4 different vitolas, each packaged in 20-count boxes:
- Double Toro (6 x 60) – MSRP $12.00
- Churchill (7 x 50) – MSRP $11.50
- Toro (6 x 50) – MSRP $11.00
- Double Robusto (5 x 54) – MSRP $10.50
The blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Cameroon
- Binder – Undisclosed
- Filler – Nicaraguan Habano
For this review I smoke 4 of the Crooked Diamond: Diamond Edition Churchills, of which 3 were given to me by Larry and one I purchased at my local Brick & Mortar – Executive Cigar Shop & Lounge in Melbourne, FL.
The Crooked Diamond: Diamond Edition Churchill is expressed in a box pressed format and cloaked in a medium matte brown Cameroon leaf that exhibits some marbling and a few off colored blotches. The cigar does feel a little light in the hand considering its size and a couple had some extra give in the roll. But I will say that the wrapper is very fragile and doing a box press you have to have a level of underfill, so the wrapper does not crack when the filler heats up and expands. Overall, I would say this has a bit of a rugged look to it. A double cap finishes the construction.
Two bands adorn the cigar, both using a black and silver motif. The primary band boldly presents the company’s logo – A Crooked Diamond – in bright silver and the name “LARRY LAWTON” printed on top. The secondary band is placed just below the primary and declares this as the “DIAMOND EDITION”.
Running the cigar along the nose, I picked a lightly pungent note along the barrel while the foot exuded notes of natural sweetness and nut.
I used my CigarMedics Baller cutter to open the cap perfectly and gave it some cold draw puffs. I found each one to be more open in the draw than I normally prefer, it was indeed a bit airy. Even so, I discerned notes of light pepperiness and nut. Those notes were slightly overshadowed with a kind of medicinal note coming through.
With the wrapper being so fragile, I opted to use a soft flame of a lit cedar spill to warm the foot to an even orange glow and drew in the first biting puffs to start the journey. Follow along as burn this one to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- The journey started with a bitter bite that seemed to attack the palate for a few puffs
- The draw was super easy offering a decent amount of smoke
- Dry leather notes start to develop along with a natural tobacco sweetness
- A light grey ash forms on top of a thin wavy char line
- A burnt paper like aroma started to waft off the foot
- The ash drops in a decent chunk revealing a slightly off centered burn cone
- Moving into the second third the bitter notes reappear before transitioning to a hint of cream
- As the bitter note joins nuances of chocolate it reveals a dark chocolate note deep in the second third
- The barrel gets very squishy in the final
- The chocolate, though enjoyable was not long lasting as it gave way to the bitter
- Mild to medium in strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 40 minutes
The Crooked Diamond Cigars – Diamond Edition journey commenced with a sharp, acrid tang that seemed to assail the taste buds for the initial puffs. Gradually, dry leather undertones emerged, accompanied by a natural tobacco sweetness giving the palate something to discern. Unfortunately, a burnt paper-like scent wafted from the cigar’s foot. Transitioning into the second third, the bitter notes resurfaced briefly before transforming into another subtle and palate teasing creaminess. As the bitterness intertwined with hints of chocolate, it unveiled a deep, dark chocolate flavor in the latter part of the second third. This was probably the best part of the journey. Towards the end, the cigar’s barrel became notably spongy. Although the chocolate notes were enjoyable, they proved fleeting, ultimately succumbing to the reemerging bitterness. I may try another one, perhaps in a different vitola. I rate this an 84.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Burn; (-1) Off Centered Burn Cone; (-1) Bitter Bite to Start; (-1) Squishy Barrel; (-1) Open Airy Draw; (-2) Papery Aroma; (-2) Unbalanced Flavors; (-1) May try one again