In 2014, Crowned Heads released Las Calaveras, a cigar inspired by the Mexican holiday of Días de los Muertos, days of the dead.
Despite the Mexican origins of the inspiration, none of the first four releases in the limited edition series used Mexican tobacco. That changed this year as Las Calaveras became the latest in the never-ending list of cigars to get wrappers from the San Andrés region of Mexico.
“As 2018 marks the five-year anniversary of the Las Calaveras marca we felt it apropos to utilize a Mexican San Andrés (maduro) wrapper, which finishes a 100 percent Nicaraguan tobacco binder and filler blend,” said Jon Huber, Crowned Heads co-founder in a press release. “We also drew heavy packaging inspiration from the vibrant colors of the Día de los Muertos holiday.”
The packaging is inspired by La Calavera Catrina, a zinc etching by José Guadalupe Posada. The company took the highly decorative skull design, popular for the holiday, and applied it to the boxes of the cigar. The name, Las Calaveras, literally translates to the skulls.
When it was announced in 2014, the company said the release was a way to honor those close to them who had passed away. In what was perhaps the most fitting timing, the 2018 version shipped only days after the passing of Cano A. Ozgener, the founder of CAO. Huber and Mike Conder, the co-founders of Crowned Heads, both worked at CAO, as did many of the Crowned Heads’ sales representatives.
This year’s release is once again offered in four sizes, three of which are sold in boxes of 24 and one of which is available only in a four-cigar sampler.
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2018 LC46 (5 5/8 x 46) — $9.95 (Boxes of 24, $238.80)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2018 LC50 (5 x 50) — $10.95 (Boxes of 24, $262.80)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2018 LC54 (6 x 54) — $11.95 (Boxes of 24, $286.80)
- Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2018 Sampler Exclusive (5 1/2 x 56)
- Cigar Reviewed: Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2018 LC46
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 5/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $9.95 (Boxes of 24, $238.80)
- Release Date: June 12, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,700 Boxes of 24 Cigars (40,800 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While the glare does not make it look the most attractive in photographs, the 2018 version of the Las Calaveras band looks great against the reddish hues of the Mexican San Andrés wrapper. As far as the aroma is concerned, all of the normal Mexican San Andrés flavors are here to be found: earth, leather and some restrained sweetness. I cannot say the same about the foot, which is extremely sweet with a mixture of floral and bubble gum flavors. The cold draw is closer to what one expects from the often-used Mexican wrapper over Nicaraguan filler combinations: a muted cocoa, some straw, earthiness, white pepper and faint hints of that gumball sweetness underneath. I will say that all of the pre-light inspections are a far cry from the early days of the Las Calaveras; everything is around medium-plus, a noticeable notch back from where the series has normally ventured.
The Las Calaveras 2018 LC46 begins extremely crisp with creaminess, floral flavors, orange peel and some generic potato starch flavors. Everything is developed, but nothing is overwhelming. Eventually, the flavor settles into a mix of earthiness over grape candy, with some herbal flavors that come and go. The star of the show is the retrohale, which delivers lavender, salty sunflower seeds and some candy sweetness. All that is accompanied by a black pepper that only seems to want to show itself on the finish of the retrohales. Flavor is medium-plus, the body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Construction is great, though the draw is a bit tight for the size, smoking more like a lonsdale than a corona gorda.
While the mouth flavor was rather pedestrian in the first third, it comes alive in the second third. There’s a mixture of savory flavors venturing between French fries and hummus along with some lemon skin and creaminess. If that wasn’t enough, the retrohale has developed a distinct barbecue flavor to go along with some sweet candy flavors and the finish leaves more of a Worcestershire sauce-like layered savoriness. To be exactingly specific, it reminds me of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend, something I don’t think I’ve used in a couple years. The pepper remains relegated to the finish, but I have to wait nearly a minute and a half for it to show itself, and it’s now reduced from the first third. Flavor picks up closer to medium-full, but doesn’t seem to want to get there, while the body remains medium-full and strength is medium-plus.
It would be easy to dismiss the Las Calaveras 2018 as boring in the final third. I find myself needing to slow down a lot to avoid what otherwise can be a mixture of earthiness and nuttiness. When I do make that adjustment, the profile presents a big peanut flavor over top some earthiness and fruitiness. Unfortunately, the retrohale isn’t anywhere close to as alive as the first two-thirds, basically just adding more peanut to the flavor. The finish is missing the black pepper note, but there’s some paprika and the barbecue notes, although the latter is quite reduced compared to the middle part.
- This review was slated to run nearly two months ago. I smoked three cigars and found each one to be pretty awful. It was one of the weirder experiences in smoking a cigar: there were a lot of tar flavors, but no visible tar around the outside of the cigar and no draw issues. Despite being in our humidor for three weeks and in the local retailer’s humidor for another couple weeks at least, the cigars were rock hard.
- At the time, I suspected that somewhere along the way the cigars were exposed to the Texas heat and dried out. We made the decision to purchase another cigar from a different retailer, inspect it and smoke it to see if the issue presented itself again. None of those issues—rock hard firmness, tar or the rest of the long list of off-putting flavors—presented themselves and we made the decision to restart the review.
- For those wondering, we rarely make a decision to restart a review after we’ve begun smoking samples. Brooks reviewed a Viaje earlier this year that suffered from the same problems: rock hard firmness and a lot of terrible flavors. In that case, we made the decision to buy new cigars and compare. The result was the same there.
- I’m still not 100 percent convinced this is the right move as it removes the consumer experience we try to replicate in our reviews.
- This smoked like a much thinner cigar than it actually is. As such, I found myself having to pay attention to what the intervals in between puffs was doing to the profile and adjust accordingly. I imagine if I was smoking this with any distractions I would have puffed quicker and had a much more boring cigar.
- On that note, puffing every 75 seconds or so produces an extremely bright and long-lasting cherry color at the foot of the cigar, a good sign that one should slow down.
- This is far and away the mildest Las Calaveras I’ve smoked to date; I would peg it at medium-plus.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigars.com, Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar Co. all carry the Las Calaveras Edición Limitada 2018 LC46.
Despite the name, the packaging and the wrapper color, this is a very different Las Calaveras than what we've come to expect over the last five years. It's still good and I'd place it as the most complex since the original release, but it's noticeably lighter than it has been in years past. While I've written a review and formulated a score, I'm still not entirely sure where I'd rank this overall as far as a Las Calaveras or even a Crowned Heads release for that matter. Regardless of factory, blend or size, there's an edge that I've always found when smoking the company's releases and for better or worse, it's nowhere to be found on the 2018 version of the LC46.