The Crowned Heads La Imperiosa
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
In 2014, Crowned Heads came out with Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 to widespread critical acclaim, including by our very own Tony Casas. The following year, the company responded to requests for a regular production of the cigar by releasing a re-branded version of Las Calaveras called La Imperiosa, named after a defunct Cuban brand from the early 1900’s. Although the blend is (supposedly) the same as Las Calaveras, the La Imperiosa line comes in four sizes distinct from the original. La Imperiosa comes in Magicos 4½ x 52, Dukes 5½ x 54, Corona Gorda 5¾ x 46, and Double Robusto 6⅜ x 50, with prices running from $8.26 for the Corona Gorda to $9.76 for the Dukes in boxes of 24. In addition to these sizes, a limited winter seasonal release of a quicker smoke, Minutos 4⅜ x 42 ($6.30 in boxes of fifty), was made available in 2016. As with Las Calaveras, La Imperiosa is manufactured by My Father Cigars in Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
Size: Double Robusto 6⅜ x 50
Smoking time: One hour, fifty minutes
Pairing: Sierra Nevada Ovila Belgian-Style Abbey Quad with Cherries (ABV 9.2%)
The La Imperiosa comes draped in a uniformly dark chocolate brown wrapper which shows a couple of medium veins among a few much finer ones, a slick oily sheen, and fine but obvious toothiness. The cigar is packed as solid as a wooden dowel from cap to foot, with extremely tight seams leading to the expertly applied triple cap. The band is a radical departure from the original Las Calaveras label, opting for gold and white lettering and graphics on a light turquoise background. As I sniff the wrapper, I am greeted by a smoky, meaty earthiness and light barnyard, while the foot shows deep, rich tobacco and a hint of cocoa. After clipping the cap, I am greeted by a very snug draw that shows sweet spice and cedar.
Right off the bat, the sweet spice of La Imperiosa hits the palate, followed by cedar, leather, and natural tobacco. The retrohale features a smooth earthiness and nice balance of pepper. The aftermath of the exhale leaves a pleasant sweet-sour tanginess on the palate. The burn is not quite razor sharp and is just a bit wavy, and what appeared to be a solid ash fell unexpectedly into my lap at ¾”. Orange citrus notes have appeared on the scene to add more complexity and terrific balance, and the sweetness has moved from the front of the palate to a more central position. La Imperiosa has became a very smooth, medium bodied mouthful, with a great countering bite on the retrohale, and by the end of the first third, the burn has completely evened itself out. The draw, while still just a bit snug, has opened up and smoke production has not been a problem from the get-go.
La Imperiosa dropped its second ash just before the beginning of the second third and continues to pump out great smooth flavors. Cocoa has now joined the mix of tobacco, wood, spice, pepper, and fruitiness, while the leather has long since departed. For a short period, the sweetness had turned almost cookie-like, but is now back to spice and citrus. The strength, meanwhile, has bumped up into the medium range, but the flavors still have the upper hand, by far. Earthiness soon makes a forward move, but is still held in check by the sweet/tart flavors, and the cocoa has turned more coffee-like.
Entering the final phase of La Imperiosa, the sweetness has taken a step back, allowing the earthiness to move up more. The wood is now more oak than cedar, and the whole experience is now more savory than sweet. The cigar is now in the medium-full range, with the strength clocking at medium-plus. Further down, the sweetness makes a last charge as La Imperiosa smokes absolutely cool and firm down to the nub.
I absolutely loved this cigar. From the spot-on construction to the great complex flavors, it delivers. I have to admit that my only experience with the original Las Calaveras 2014 was a single cigar that Tony generously gifted me, and my memory of it is a little clouded by now, but that did not enter into my evaluation of the La Imperiosa anyway, since the vitolas are all different and the tobaccos used are likely from different crops. If I had to quibble, the band color is too reminiscent of the “It’s a Boy!” cheapie smokes (and I’ve heard from others who feel the same way), but since I’m not smoking the band, I can easily overlook that. It’s well priced for the quality you get, and I highly recommend it to both seasoned smokers and newer smokers who are looking to move up to a stronger, but not overwhelmingly so, cigar. I really liked the size of the La Imperiosa Double Robusto, too – it felt more like a 48 ring gauge than a 50 and was extremely comfortable to hold and smoke. I would love to have this one around at all times.
You can get La Imperiosa from our friends over at Cuenca Cigars here.
This is my first experience with Sierra Nevada’s Ovila with Cherries, but having read Tony’s take on it, I had a good feeling about this pairing, and it did indeed turn out to be a great match for the La Imperiosa. Ovila with Cherries presents sweet, tart fruity flavors with deep maltiness and even a little bit of cola with a sticky, viscous, medium-full bodied mouthfeel, all of which played tremendously well with the flavors present in the cigar. A Belgian strong ale, sweet rum, or a big tawny port would also be a great way to go with La Imperiosa.