Earlier this year, Crowned Heads announced it would be working on a new project with a new factory, the García’s My Father Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. It was somewhat of a surprising move given that since August 2011, Crowned Heads has been known as the only client brand of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo of E.P. Carrillo and his Tabacalera La Alianza factory.
The new collaborations first project comes in the form of Las Calaveras, which began hitting shelves last week.
It’s a three-size line, each limited to 1,000 boxes for 2014. Las Calaveras translates to the skulls, but more specifically refers to a specific imagery used during Día de Muertos, the day of the dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated between October 31 and November 2 of each year.
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.
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC550 (5 x 50) — 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC652 (6 x 52) — 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC754 (7 x 54) — 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
Crowned Heads has had two limited editions prior to Las Calaveras, although both were based off of existing lines.
- Four Kicks Limited Edition 2012 Mule Kick (5 7/8 x 52) — November 2012 — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Headley Grange Drumstick Limited Edition 2013 (7 1/2 x 38) — October 2013 — 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC550 (5 x 50) — May 2014 — 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC652 (6 x 52) — May 2014 — 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC754 (7 x 54) — May 2014 — 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
In addition, the company will release Angel’s Anvil shortly. It is also limited and was only offered to retailers who are members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America.
- Cigar Reviewed: Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC550
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- Est. Price: $8.95 (Boxes of 24, $214.80)
- Date Released: May 21, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 24 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The wrappers are quite dark, although they have some reds breaking through the deep muddy color. While the cover leaf itself is actually great to touch, almost every sample I smoked featured heavy visible veins, which definitely affect the ability to run your hand down the cigar smoothly. I get a wonderful aroma with barnyard, oak, Worcestershire sauce and a large amount of sweet twang. It’s a similar story on the cold draw of the LC550: twang, sunflower seeds, wet leather and saltiness on the lips. There is a sharp note in the back of the throat, more sour than pepper, but it definitely cuts through the otherwise smooth profile.
It actually takes two puffs on each of the samples I smoked before the cigar gets going, but once it does it’s enjoyable. Sweet creamy orange notes followed by some meatiness and oak. The finish of the Las Calaveras has the twang, a bit reduced from the cold draw, and some creaminess. Still lingering as well is the sharp note in the throat. The mouth has toastiness with some salty sunflower seed. It’s smooth and refined, but pedestrian compared to the retrohale: creamy potatoes, followed by the meatiness, which is now like a roasted sausage and big acidic leather notes. It all pales in comparison to a gigantic grapefruit and twang note. But what’s truly great is that the retrohale, while still medium-plus, is smooth enough that you can do it puff after puff without any noticeable degradation in the nose.
The Las Calaveras burns well, reaching two inches of ash without much issue, but I find that tapping it near the inch mark produces better flavors. A crispy note—which I can best describe as chicken skin—emerges for a few puffs right around the two-inch mark of all there samples. Elsewhere, the toastiness is making its way into the retrohale, which definitely leads to me taking a break every few puffs. The meatiness is still there along with burnt butter, all dominated by the grapefruit note. As for the finish, it’s nowhere near as nuanced, although still quite balanced, sweet until a red pepper flake cuts through things.
While the grapefruit note begins to disappear, the buffet of flavors does not. A creaminess mixes with the toasty notes to take command of the profile of the LC550. There’s Chartreuse and even hints of cola syrup, although both are secondary compared to the creamy and toasty mixture. The cigar is definitely taking a lot more work to stay lit after two inches. Given the first three inches were carefree, I have little to complain about. Temperature begins to noticeably drop in my mouth and after one attempt at a relight, I end the cigar at the one-inch mark, although one sample burned fine to the half inch mark.
- Before anyone freaks out, Crowned Heads is not leaving Tabacalera La Alianza. Angel’s Anvil is being produced there.
- In case you missed it in the quote above, this will be an annual release with changes each year.
- It is somewhat odd to have a cigar inspired by a Mexican tradition with no actual Mexican tobacco in it.
- I have not smoked any of the other sizes.
- Crowned Heads has great packaging. Previously, Headley Grange—which undoubtedly was based on the La Escepción Selectos Finos—was my favorite. The Las Calaveras is a different level of execution. The Dia de Muertos theme is great and extremely well-presented.
- I would have loved to seen the calavera (skull) actually make it onto the band, but there’s not much to complain about the current band.
- There is not much punishing for pushing the cigar speed-wise, but as is normally the case, going a bit slower than a puff per minute shows off additional flavors.
- In addition to the upcoming Angel’s Anvil, Jon Huber has indicated the company will have a new release, presumably at IPCPR 2014 in July.
- It’s been a while since My Father Cigars S.A. added a new (public) non-retail client. To my recollection, the last new client would have been the Quesadas in the form of the Tres Reynas partnership.
- Not too many cigars can be this full and provide this many repetitive retrohales. Outside of voluntarily keeping the smoke out my nose to isolate the mouth flavor, I probably went the first 45 minutes exclusively retrohaling.
- Strength starts medium-plus and ends medium-full.
- There is literally nothing to complain about construction-wise through the first three inches. As the final third got going, I had to pay attention to the cigar, although no touch-ups were required across the samples I smoked.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
It’s been a while since a new cigar impressed me this much. Everything from the packaging to the construction of the cigars was excellent, but most importantly, the flavor was superior. Crowned Heads has done an excellent job of positioning its three core releases separate form one another and Las Calaveras is much the same, not something easily comparable to anything the company has done so far. Regardless, it’s my favorite offering from the company to date and the best new cigar of 2014 I’ve smoked to date.