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There’s no denying that the winter months can be tough on cigar smokers. For those without regular access to an indoor smoking lounge, trying to enjoy a cigar while bundled up and fighting off the cold is not an ideal experience.

While cigar makers can’t do much to ward off the often freezing temperatures, many have taken an approach to help endear themselves to cigar lovers in cold climates: releasing blends in smaller formats that are designed to be smoked in a smaller amount of time. One such company is Crowned Heads, who over the past year and change have released a pair of smaller cigars, the Jericho Hill Shots in 2015, and the La Imperiosa Minutos in 2016.

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When the cigar was announced in December 2015, Jon Huber of Crowned Heads told halfwheel that “these seasonal releases are a direct response to the need for a quick smoke during the cold winter months. Fans of La Imperiosa will be able to enjoy that same flavor profile in classic Cuban small cigar format.”

The limited edition Minutos, with just 500 cabinets of 50 cigars produced, is the fifth size in the line but the ninth incarnation of the blend, which is based off the Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014, using an Ecuadorian habano oscuro wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler.

La Imperiosa Vitolas

  • 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)
  • Hecho Con Corazon—LE 2014 (6 x 50) — October 2014 — 100 Boxes of 10 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars)
  • La Imperiosa Magicos (4 1/2 x 52) — July 2015 — Regular Production
  • La Imperiosa Dukes (5 1/2 x 54) — July 2015 — Regular Production
  • La Imperiosa Corona Gorda (5 3/4 x 46) — July 2015 — Regular Production
  • La Imperiosa Double Robusto (6 3/8 x 50) — July 2015 — Regular Production
  • La Imperiosa Minutos (4 3/8 x 42) — February 2016 — 500 Boxes of 50 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)

La Imperiosa Minutos 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Imperiosa Minutos
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 4 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 42
  • Vitola: Petit Corona
  • MSRP: $6.30 (Box of 50, $315)
  • Release Date: Feb. 9, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 50 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

My first thought when seeing the La Imperiosa Minutos in person is that it looks like a chopped-down lancero, as the cigar has such an impeccable presentation that it looks like it had to be rolled by someone skilled enough to make the slender vitola. Of course, its 42 ring gauge is a bit too big to be a lancero, but it still doesn’t feel as big as a corona in the hand. The cigar is draped in a capa that has an oily sheen and an abundant amount of tooth, a gorgeous combination for the eyes to process. It also appears to be a very well rolled with a clean cap and a consistently firm feel from head to foot. From the foot I get a bit of chocolate syrup and cool fudge, with pepper ranging from non-existent to fairly prevalent depending on the sample and the receptiveness of my nose on a given day. There’s also touches of soil and bark in one particular sample that gives the cigar much more of a leaning towards its terroir. The cold draw is a touch firm and isn’t as rich as the aroma, offering a bit of pepper and some more of the chocolate syrup, with just a tinge of damp wood in the background, and one sample delivering a bit of cool, creamy mint.

While there’s a bit of pepper in the first puffs of the La Imperiosa Minutos, it doesn’t generally open up in earnest until two to three minutes after the cigar is fully toasted, and when it does it a clean, concentrated and pleasingly potent hit for the nostrils that exemplifies what a smaller ring gauge can deliver when executed correctly. I find the flavor to be a bit lacking in the early going, or at least overshadowed by the pepper that seems more focused on the nose than on the palate. What I do get leans toward a slightly dry mix of chalk and earth, with some pepper adding a bit more zing. As the light gray ash continues to build to about an inch in length, there’s a bit of bread that comes into the mix; not a specific type per se, but rather a flavor that encompasses a generic idea of the term. While the pepper was upfront in the first puffs of this portion, it has shifted underneath the profile a bit, giving a slight zing on the palate but instead of trying to command the overall flavor. Technical performance has been very good with a bright white ash holding on for about an inch, with a firm but manageable draw and an even burn line.

La Imperiosa Minutos 2

As the second third of the La Imperiosa Minutos gets underway, I begin to get just a touch of chalk and sourness from the cigar, probably the most distinct flavor I’ve picked up to this point and one that doesn’t cloak the profile very well. There’s still a good bit of terroir to be found, and in this section it gets a bit heavier at times, leaving more of an impression on the palate. The draw tightens up a bit at the midway point, which is also where the cigar hits its first burn issue on one sample. With the burn line making its way out of the second third, the flavor suddenly lightens up, being carried out of the heavier earth notes by dry and light wood, with white pepper joining in as well. I don’t want to call the flavor profile that takes the cigar into its final third gruff or rough, but it does toe that line at times, particularly in the most flavorful of the three samples or when the palate seems particularly receptive.

La Imperiosa Minutos 3

The draw stays a bit firm for my liking as the La Imperiosa Minutos heads into its final third, but it’s not to the point of impeding air flow or smoke production. While I get a bit of a charred note on the tongue in the final two inches, it’s really the lead in to an interesting flavor progression that brings back some of the sourness and puts the pepper in a new place on the palate, shifting it out to the front of the tongue after largely being confined to the nose and back of the mouth. The final sample I smoked was much more controlled in its twists and turns, yet the mileposts were generally all the same, and brings the same disappointing end to this small format cigar. I get a touch of lime in the final inch of one stick, seemingly a combination between the lingering sourness and a newfound citrus note. The burn stays sharp and even, allowing the cigar to be smoked down to a tiny nub, though the flavors don’t encourage pushing those limits.

La Imperiosa Minutos 4

Final Notes

  • There’s something very unique about the La Imperiosa bands, namely the shade of blue used as the primary color. It doesn’t feel traditional, though the band certainly has a traditional aesthetic to it.
  • I smoked two of the samples first thing in the morning, and the third in the early evening. All of them were my first cigar of the day, and for whatever reason, the third sample was by far the most alive and vibrant.
  • I don’t know if intrigued is the right word, but I was intrigued by the fact that the Jericho Hill Shots and La Imperiosa Minutos are so close in size, yet not the exact same size. Both are a 42 ring gauge, but the Shots is 4 1/2 inches in length while Minutos is 4 3/8.
  • The Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 LC550, which uses the same blend as the La Imperiosa Minutos, placed #4 in the halfwheel Top 25 of 2014.
  • As Jon Huber mentioned, the minutos vitola is a traditional Cuban vitola and has several current cigars that use the 4 3/10 x 42 vitola, which is a bit shorter than the La Imperiosa Minutos. That list includes the Bolívar Coronas Junior, Guantanamera Minutos, Partagás Shorts, Ramón Allones Small Club Coronas and San Cristóbal El Príncipe.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and five minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigar Hustler and Cigar.com carry the La Imperiosa Minutos.
81 Overall Score

I don't know quite what it is, but ever since the Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2014 came out, it seems like the blend just can't quite match up to how it performed in the LC550 vitola. In this smaller vitola, the clean and potent pepper that starts the cigar off quickly disappears into sourness before finishing on a fairly jumbled flavor profile that doesn't deliver any of the flavor or complexity of the cigar that placed #4 on our Top 25 of 2014 list did. If I had to pick, I'd rather smoke as much of that cigar as I could before giving into a cold winter's night than smoke another La Imperiosa Minutos.

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About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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