The Crowned Heads – Las Calaveras Edicion Limitada 2014
The Crowned Heads Las Calaveras Edicion Limitada 2014 has been on my radar for a while now. Finally, I was able to track a few of them down and with thing incredibly weather we are having I found time between yard work to sit down and throw one of these back.
The Good Stuff: Crowned Heads’ Las Calaveras is the third limited edition release form the company following the Four Kicks Mule Kick and the Headley Grange Drumstick (we don’t have a review for the drumstick up, but I did review a different format out of the line which you can read here. That being said, the drumstick was my favorite in the line for sure). While the Drumstick and Mule Kick were tweaked blends/line extension the Calaveras is a completely limited blend. All the previous Crowned Heads blends were blended by E.P. Carrillo with overview by Jon Huber and Mike Conder with the exception of this blend which is blended by the Garcia Family at My Father Cigars S.A. in Esteli Nicaragua. The Calaveras comes in 3 sizes: Robusto (5 x 54), Toro (6 x 52) and Churchill (7 x 54) with prices ranging from $8.95 to $10.95 a stick. They come packaged in boxes of 24 and with only 1,000 boxes of each sizes being released this will sell out VERY soon. I picked up a handful of these from Cigar Hustler and list time I checked they still had some in stock. Here is a bit more information from the Crowned Heads site on the project and what to expect with the years to come.
Crowned Heads Las Calaveras was inspired by “La Calavera Catrina,” a zinc etching by Mexican printmaker and illustrator, Jose Guadalupe Posada.
The image depicts a female skeleton dressed only in a hat, and has become an icon of the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The holiday focuses upon gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember those who have died.
Beginning with the Edicion Limitada 2014, Las Calaveras will be an annual release that is a respectful homage to those who have passed away in the year before, and is intended to be a celebration of their lives and remembrances, rather than a mourning or a symbol of sadness and death. Each year, we all lose a friend or loved one, or know of someone who has endured that same loss. In today’s fast-paced world, it is all too easy to forget the fragile nature that is life. Often, in the race to gain material success, we lose sight that our true legacy are the lives we touch and the love we leave behind once we pass on. It is in this spirit that Las Calaveras pays tribute to those who have touched our lives and shared their love.
With each year’s annual limited release, the blend and presentation of Las Calaveras will be altered. What will remain the same, however, is the spirit behind the cigar. We hope that with this annual remembrance, we will choose to celebrate–rather than mourn–the lives of those who have so graciously shared their legacies with us.
That being said, I am smoking this particular Calaveras in memory of my Father who passed away a few months ago. He was a hell of a man and I miss him more and more every day. (Funny, not even joking, as I typed that the wind picked up crazy for about 20 seconds. There wasn’t even a slight breeze before that. Coincidence? Maybe. Probably. But yeah…)
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Oscuro (8th priming)
Pairing: Unibroue La Terrible (Belgian Strong Dark Ale 10.5% ABV)
Prelight: Las Calaveras starts off with a crazy thick, dark wrapper. The wrapper is a very consistent, very dark brown. It’s pretty much as dark brown as you can get before you venture into black. The wrapper is very toothy, very hard, and very thick with a nice amount of oil. The leaf is laid seamlessly and you can only see some very minor veins running through the length of the body with one larger one running about half the body’s length. The cigar is really heavy and firm in most places but the foot on this particular stick it pretty squishy and you can see a small void in the filler. The Calaveras is polished off with a round triple cap that’s attached so seamless it was difficult for me to tell where the wrapper started and the cap ended. Las Calaveras carries a very elegant, simple, white, black, red and gold band carrying the Las Calaveras crest which really stands out on the dark cigar. The crest carries a gold crown, a few medallion, the words “Las Calaveras” in black and “EL 2014 Esteli Nicaragua” in gold which I assume stands for “Edicion Limitada 2014”.
The wrapper of this cigar gives off more aroma than any cigar I have ever smelled before. I’m picking up some strong sweetness, a ton of spice, and some great cedar. The foot of the cigar carries just as much aroma only it leads off with much more spice and natural scents. The cap cut so clean and so easily using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw carries on with the bold trend pumping a whole mess of spice, pepper, and sweetness.
First Smoke: Las Calaveras started out with a nice pepper burst which quickly faded away. In fact, after the first few draws it was completely gone and I was left with a whole ton of sweetness, loads of spice with cinnamon being the dominant flavor, cedar, cherry, and even some light pine notes over some great natural tobacco. The draw on the cigar flows very freely and it takes very minimal effort to get a good amount of thick smoke. The burnline started with some slight waves as it burned through the filler voids I mentioned earlier which only went a few centimeters deep. After that the cigar was burning solid and clean leaving behind a compacted medium grey ash with darker stripes which plopped into my ashtray about an inch in.
Halfway There: The flavor in the Crowned Heads Calaveras just keeps on pumping itself up. The spice is really strong now and it mixes in real well with the strong cedar. I’m still getting a bit of that pine but it’s much more minimal now while the cherry has become deeper and stronger as the sweetness has faded out a bit. The retrohale is really sharp and a very bold as it coats my nasal passage with some really strong spice and cedar. I don’t find myself retrohaling this bad boy too often. The burnline is slightly wavy but not concerning as I have yet had to reach for my torch. I am feeling absolutely no nicotine as I close out the second third.
Finish: Man, as if Crowned Heads’ Las Calaveras couldn’t become more complex some really nice malt and honey notes tossed themselves over the strong spice, cedar, and deep cherry which now has a more chocolaty finish. Is it a spoiler if I say that I am enjoying this cigar a whole hell of a lot? If so, who cares, it’s the truth. The pepper actually made a brief reappearance during the final inch or two of the cigar. The Calaveras took me about an hour and a half to take down and I experience absolutely no harshness or heat even into the final inch. In fact, the final inch or two was really where the cigar shines as the flavors really ramp up and come together to wish you farewell in the boldest way possible. I never once had to take out my torch to relight or touch this cigar up.
Overview: Let’s just get to it. How good was this cigar? Honestly it’s probably the best cigar I’ve had all year. No doubt about it. Crowned Heads continue to push their own personal standard as they really raised the bar with the Calaveras. Can this company make a bad cigar? Who knows. The Calaveras has everything I crave in a cigar. Loads of bold flavors which are not overpowered by strength, perfect burn, great price, and let’s not forget how awesome the box/band design is on these guys. My only gripe is that they are so limited. I know I’ll be chasing a box down this week as the few sticks I purchased didn’t last long at all. This cigar is absolutely perfect for a seasoned smoker looking for a full bodied, complex experience and the price makes it an ideal cigar for the novice smoker who is itching to break into premium, full bodied cigars. The price is in the high range for most people but quite honestly I’d probably pay even more than the cost for this cigar.
Pairing: Unibroue La Terrible is a Belgian style strong dark ale brewed in Canada coming in at 10.5% ABV. Unibroue has to be my favorite Canadian brewery only due to my love for Belgian style ales, but everything that comes out of the brewery is solid. You won’t get a bad beer. La Terrible had a ton of sweetness which kept pushing the sweetness in the cigar to reach it’s full potential especially towards the end of the experience where it could have easily dropped off completely. Along with the sweetness La Terrible carries a ton of deep cherry, apple, and other fruit flavors which tied in especially well with the cherry from the Calaveras not to mention the incredible amount of spices both the beer and the cigar pump out. I thought for a few days of the perfect pairing for this cigar. While many other options came up it was an “AHA!” moment when I remembered I had a bottle of La Terrible just waiting for the right time to pop open. I’m so glad I saved it as I don’t think there is a better beer pairing than this one.