In fall, 2015, a select number of retailers began receiving an unusual package from Crowned Heads. There were seven retailers total, each receiving four, twenty-count boxes (one box per size) of a new project from the brand. Three months later, the second wave arrived, this time bringing 1,000 boxes to a larger range of stores across the country. In both instances, the cigars featured unfinished packaging, only advertising the cigars name, “Las Mareas”, on paper, pre-release bands.
The aura of mystique surrounding Crowned Heads’ latest project finally came to a head in late July of 2016, as the line made its official debut at the IPCPR show in Las Vegas. The cigar’s name, sizes, and blend remained the same, but the presentation was now finalized—bearing a simplistic design of black and white, with plain wood boxes that are stamped with the imagery of waves. This all ties into the cigar’s name, which is Spanish for “the tides”.
Las Mareas is Crowned Heads’ third regular production release coming out of Nicaragua. The brand’s early offerings were made in the Dominican Republic, teaming with the Carrillo family and their Tabacalera La Alianza factory. But the majority of their releases are now being produced in Nicaragua at the García family’s My Father Cigars factory. And for Las Mareas, Crowned Heads has opted to utilize tobaccos from the García’s own farms in and around Estelí, Nicaragua—showcasing not only a Nicaraguan puro blend, but a García puro. The Garcías are known to use authentic Cuban techniques and Crowned Heads is aiming to showcase a classic, Cubanesque profile with Las Mareas.
Comprised of 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos, many who’ve sampled pre-release Las Mareas have compared the taste to a bygone era of vintage Cuban cigars.
Las Mareas Tuberia Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 4½” × 48 “Tuberia” (rothschild)
- Price: $8.25
Las Mareas follows on the heels of Jericho Hill and La Imperiosa, making it not only the brand’s first García-grown, Nicaraguan puro, but their first non-maduro blend as a regular production line, coming out of Nicaragua. The lineup includes four sizes: Olas (6¼” x 46), Tuberia (4½” × 48), Rebeldes (5½” x 52), and Ciclopes (6″ x 54).
The cigars are themed around surf culture, taking on a rustic Hawaiian or Mexican street art look. To accomplish the design, Crowned Heads had the artwork carved into blocks of wood, which are then painted and stamped. The whole process is shown in a video by CH. Even the boxes play into the theme, with the bare boxes showing a wave pattern from the wood’s grain.
As you’d expect from a product of the Garcías and Crowned Heads, the cigars look fantastic. The bands are simplistic and take on a punk vibe—with the heavy black contrasting nicely against the light shade of the tobacco. The cigars appear well-constructed, having a medium pack, tight seams, and triple cap. Although, my sample had somewhat of a cracked foot—which was no big deal—as it was burned through in the first few minutes. The appearance of the cigar is certainly Cubanesque, with a clay-brown leaf, having subtle hues of gray and orange. There is no tooth or noticeable oiliness, giving a soft and muted look. Altogether a fantastic looking cigar.
The aroma is light and barely noticeable. It is somewhat papery, with some light notes of cedar/pencil shavings. On the foot there are more interesting notes of vegetation and fresh pine. The pre-light draw is medium-firm, showing light and airy notes of cedar.
The first few puffs give a good first impression—there’s no blast of flavor but the subtle notes are pleasant. The retrohale has an interesting acidity, like sourdough bread. There is also a nice mix of spices, showing black pepper and a more intense note of hot, Mexican peppers. The finish is brief, but has a buttery sweetness that is the cigar’s strongpoint within the first third. On the downside, there is an occasional chemically, ammonia note hidden somewhere in the cigar’s range of flavors.
Construction-wise, Las Mareas has a shaky start—the draw is slightly tight (although this could be from the V-cut I used), the smoke output is a little low, and the cigar needed a full relight within the first quarter-inch. But the performance improved after relighting—this really increased the cigar’s sweetness, as well as bringing the smoke output up to a manageable level.
At this point, I decided to pair the cigar with W.L. Weller Special Reserve bourbon, which suited the cigar perfectly. The sharper pepper notes are toned down, the finish is extended dramatically, and there are much sweeter notes of cream and butter, as well as a hint of raw cherry.
The texture is gritty, with small particles within the smoke occasionally finding their way between your teeth. The profile is about medium-bodied, from a medium flavor output and medium-plus strength, which begins climbing upwards at the cigar’s mid-point. And with the increasing strength comes some harsh and burning herb-like flavors. This prompts a touchup, which brings back some more enjoyable flavors just before the cigar winds down.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Possibly. I can’t say I’d go hunting these down, but I wouldn’t be against trying some of the other sizes, such as the 6¼” x 46 Olas. For me, there just wasn’t any real “it factor” with this smoke. It certainly had its moments, such as a really nice pairing with the wheated bourbon, but these were few and far between.
As far as being Cubanesque, I’m not sold. Some aspects were similar to Cuban cigars, having a lighter body, a draw on the firm side, and the buttery notes, but I wouldn’t exactly call this Cubanesque. It’s usually the musky profile of a Cuban, as well as the all-encompassing notes, seeming to hit the palate from every angle and making it difficult to pick apart the ingredients, that deem a cigar “Cubanesque”; and in my opinion, I didn’t find that with Las Mareas.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: wheated bourbon
- Purchase Recommendation: 2 cigars
- Fun theme
- Great pairing with bourbon
- Gritty smoking texture
- Ammonia notes at start
- Low smoke output
- Multiple re-lights and/or touchups