2017 Las Calaveras…Crowned Heads

Ah the 2017 Las Calaveras. I picked up a few of these when they were first released last year. Excited to try one, I did right away and I felt like the cigar was too fresh and needed some time to relax and acclimate to the climate in Pa. I was not alone as I read numerous reviews, post and comments mentioning this same thing. I know this was a huge point of contention from co-founder Jon Huber. Sorry Jon. The intent for me, was not to be negative or to put down the cigar, I just honestly felt that the cigar had so much more to give than what I experienced. I still stand by that decision. I also stand by the decision not to post the review based on my experience at the time. I felt it would be best to let the cigar relax, age a bit and then revisit it. My goal was to go back to it before the end of 2017. Little did I know I would be transferring to a new state, selling a house, moving into an apartment, starting the home building process, etc. Needless to say this cigar, along with a number of others did not get reviewed simply because of my personal situation and trying to get settled in a new location.

If you have followed my blog for awhile, anyone that knows me knows a couple of things. 1) I am honest and will not bs anything in my reviews. 2) I am also respectful and tactful and would never bash anyone’s work. If I don’t like a particular cigar, that’s on me. I am not going to love every single cigar I try and neither will you. Just because something doesn’t review well by me or anyone else should never stop you from trying it if it interest you. This is a very opinionated, subjective thing I do and it is strictly my opinion. With all of that said, let’s get down to what we are here to do.

I have been a fan of Crowned Heads for some time now. Nothing has changed on that front. I was able to stop in and visit with Jon in Nashville for just a few minutes in 2016. I would have loved the opportunity to hang out with him and enjoy a smoke but it wasn’t in the cards. I always look forward to anything coming from Crowned Heads as they have been a staple in my humidor for awhile.

“Since we first introduced Las Calaveras in 2014, the marca has risen dramatically in popularity and notoriety,” said Jon Huber, Crowned Heads co-founder, in a statement to halfwheel. “One of the things I’m personally most proud of, however, is that the underlying message of the brand, i.e., to celebrate (rather than mourn) the lives of those who’ve passed on in the previous year, has been heard and received literally around the world.” (Taken from Halwheel.com)

Every from October 31 – November 2 in Mexico the country celebrates Dia de Muertos. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of friends and family friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. Somewhere between 1910-1913 Jose Guadalupe Posada created a zinc etching called, La Calavera Catrina that has become synonymous with the holiday. It is from this etching and holiday that Crowned Heads found inspiration for Las Calaveras.

Let’s jump into this one shall we:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro

Binder/Filler: Nicaragua

Size: 5 5/8″ x 46

MSRP: $9.75

Origin: My Father Cigar Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua

Appearance: The wrapper is a dark brown color with a reddish/orange hue in the light. It is a rustic leaf with tight seams and a lot of small veins. The black, orange and gold band works really well against the rustic leaf and dresses it nicely.

Pre-light: The cigar feels firm with no soft spots. From the barrel I pick up notes of hay, natural tobacco, pepper, cedar and earth. The foot offers a bit more pepper and earth notes. I use a straight cut and the cold draw offers a good draw with a slight resistance, notes of hay, earth, wood and pepper.

1st Third: Once I get things toasted, the initial burst is a familiar pepper note mixed with cedar, earth, and a mocha like sweetness. The pepper fades fairly quickly but is noticeable on the retrohale. The cedar, spice and sweetness blend together nicely. The draw is nice, the burn is sharp. I did develop a split down the side of the wrapper but it did not present any issues with the performance. Moving towards the end of the first third the strength is medium plus. I am getting notes of cedar, leather, earth, sweet cocoa and pepper.

2nd Third: As I make the transition into the halfway mark, the flavor profile opens up a bit more and this is what I was waiting for when I first reviewed this stick. Time definitely made a difference with this cigar. People can and will say what they want but for me the difference is night and day. The cedar notes are pronounced and a smooth caramel, mocha sweetness takes shape. The earthy notes move into more a nutty profile. The performance is still the same. No issues with the draw, the split proved to be a non issue and the burn is sharp. I am getting a lot of smoke from this cigar. The strength is medium plus to full at this point but it remains smooth.

Final third: Moving into the final third, the transition offers no real change. The flavor profile remains pretty consistent with the 2nd third. The performance is on cruise control. I still get a nice cedar, coffee/mocha/caramel, with a touch of pepper and earth. A slight bit of bitterness starts to show up as I come to the end of this one.

Final Thoughts: I am really glad that I came back to this cigar. While I didn’t find this one to be my personal favorite of the Crowned Heads releases, it certainly was better than the first one I tried. This release was overlooked on a lot of list (mine included due to circumstances) but it really has proven to be a solid smoke. To be fair, the portfolio that Crowned Heads has produced makes for some tough competition. I was super happy to see my local lounge get a box of Luminosa in yesterday! I found this years release to be a solid medium plus to full strength cigar that had a nice flavor profile, nice draw, sharp burn and maintenance free performance. I encourage you to try it and see what you think about it. Blind Man Puff put it as their number 3 cigar this year.

Crowned Heads remains one of my favorite brands and I really enjoy what they are doing with the “Set List” series. If you have not signed up to receive it, visit http://www.crownedheads.com/set-list/

If you happen to find yourself in Nashville, reach out to Jon and the team and try to stop by and visit them. They have a very cool headquarters there and they are super down to earth people.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to leave comments, questions or review request. I am happy to try new cigars anytime I get the chance. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends.