In a year that has included numerous releases, such as Jericho Hill, Angel’s Anvil, Tennessee Waltz, Mason Dixon (North & South), and Las Calaveras, I think it’s safe to say Crowned Heads is hitting their stride. Beginning in 2011, Crowned Heads focused on building their foundation, releasing an initial run of two core lineup offerings (blended by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo at his Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory in the Dominican Republic) by the end of 2012. In 2013, they expanded these brands with additional vitolas and introduced the JD Howard Reserve, again focusing on a small lineup and a solid base. It’s now clear that 2014 is their breakout year – unveiling hit after hit, with nearly all cigars now being produced at the renowned My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Gauging the opinions of the cigar community, it seems the unanimous favorite release from Crowned Heads this year is Las Calaveras EL 2014, a limited release cigar that marked their first collaboration with My Father Cigars’ Don Pepin and Jaime Garcia. Built around the theme of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Las Calaveras will be an annual release intended to honor and celebrate the lives of those we love. In typical Crowned Heads fashion, the cigars are beautifully packaged, having an eye-catching black and cream-white box with a colorful skull design inspired by the famous “La Calavera Catrina” etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada.
Though Las Calaveras Edición Limitada will be released each year, the cigars will feature new sizes and blends, only retaining the “Day of the Dead” theme and inspiration.
Las Calaveras EL 2014 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Oscuro (8th priming)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Production: 3,000 boxes of 24
- Vitola: 6″ x 52 (LC652) Toro
- Price: $9.95
Today I am smoking the 6″ x 52 (LC652) Toro vitola of the Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014. The cigar has a great appearance, with a medium brown wrapper, definitely not “oscuro” by normal standards, but rather a dark habano. There are noticeable seams and light veins, and a muted, oily shine to the wrapper. The cigar feels sturdy and well-constructed. Using a wide punch cutter, the draw is a dead medium and there are light notes of chocolate and tobacco on the pre-light draw.
The cigar starts with a full mouth of chocolate and tobacco, with a light, lingering spice in the nostrils. At first, there is not much in the way of complexity, but the flavors are satisfying and plentiful! After the cigar has had a moment to develop, I notice a finish of vanilla to compliment the overabundance of chocolate. On the retrohale, there is surprisingly not much spice, rather a cold, menthol-like feel at this point. I’d peg Las Calaveras at medium/full flavor and medium-light in strength through the first inch.
The profile continues a theme of chocolate and vanilla for a goof portion of the cigar, moving past the first inch I’d describe it as hot chocolate with a good dose of vanilla cream. There is also a charred wood note that moves in and out, and the retrohale has a lingering spice that feels just right (though it may be a bit much for an entry-level smoker). It’s at this point (entering the second-third) that I found the cigar’s sweet spot – the flavors simply engulf the palate, with a similar profile, only magnified! Now the vanilla and cream components are rivaling the chocolate, and I’ll say this much: they’re winning. The cigar is medium strength, full flavor, and medium/full bodied at this point.
Up until this point, the profile has remained largely the same, which is not a bad thing because the flavors are on point! But if this cigar had any tricks up its sleeve, the final third would prove to be its grand finale. Chocolate proved to be the main component of this cigar, but progressing into the final third, the flavors condensed into a darker cocoa with an accompanying anise flavor. And now for those aforementioned “tricks”: peppermint, anise, charred wood, and bushman bread (à la Outback Steakhouse)! Of course, all these flavors didn’t come at once, but were interestingly weaved throughout the final stretch of the smoking experience.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
Without question! That is, if I can find them, these cigars are limited and going quick…
- Loads of satisfying flavors on every puff
- Burn line stays mostly even
- The draw is much too loose without using a punch cut