Las Calaveras is a project between Crowned Heads and My Father Cigars. The first installment in this cigar project was last year and it was very well received by both consumers and critics. The cigar is inspired by El Dia de los Muertos and it is meant to be a celebration of people we have lost over the past year. In essence, you smoke the cigar and remember and honor loved ones you lost that year. This is the second installment in the project and it is exciting to see where Jon Huber and My Father took the cigar for 2015. Let’s take a closer look at this special cigar.
Information and Appearance:
First off, I will not be scoring this cigar. It is unfair to score a cigar before it is released and has a chance for further rest. This preview, like other previews I will do on the blog, is meant to give you a good sense of the cigar and an idea of what to look forward to. Therefore, these features will not be as in depth as cigar reviews, but they should be informative.
Brand: Crowned Heads
Scheduled Release: April / May 2015
How did I get it: Jon Huber from Crowned Heads sent me this cigar for a preview article.
When did I smoke it: I smoked this cigar at night with my cigar buddy dog Bella.
Length of Smoke: This cigar took roughly 70 minutes or so.
Factory Information: Like the 2014 release, this cigar was made at My Father in Esteli, Nicaragua.
- Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Rosado
- Binder and Filler: Nicaraguan
- 5 5/8 x 46
- 5 x 50
- 6 x 52 (The cigar for this review)
The cigar itself looks amazing. The Rosado wrapper has a milk chocolate quality and looks smooth. The cigar is nice and springy and appears well constructed. There is a nice contrast between the dark filler and the milk chocolate binder. This is different from the 2014 release, which had a Habano Oscuro wrapper and appeared quite dark. The dry draw is just right and has nice chocolate flavors.
Burn and Draw:
The draw is a bit tighter than the 2014 Las Calaveras, which is a good improvement. I found that the 2014 was a bit too loose, so tightening the draw on this cigar dialed it in nicely. I found the draw to have just the right amount of resistance and very smooth. Moreover, the draw remains consistent throughout the cigar. However, the draw performed the best in the second and final thirds. The burn on the 2015 Las Calaveras is excellent. I found this pre – release to burn even throughout the cigar and I did not have to correct it.
My Father is well known for impeccable construction and the 2015 Las Calaveras pre – release is no different. The cigar’s construction is excellent. The combustion rate is fantastic and the cigar smokes really well. The ash holds on nicely, which allows the cigar to burn cool. That ash is an important factor in enjoying the cigar. If a cigar loses its ash too quickly, the cigar can burn hot and the flavors become bitter and harsh. The 2015 Las Calaveras is quite subtle and nuanced; therefore, having a good combustion rate and burning cool allows the blend to deliver these more subtle flavors. Burning too hot would overpower these flavors and you would miss them entirely. This is a very long way of saying the combustion rate on this cigar is perfect and allows the blend to perform well.
The key point moving forward, is to see if this excellent level of construction remains consistent throughout the release. Recently, I smoked some of the Jericho Hill Shots, which is also a new joint release from Crowned Heads and My Father. The construction on that cigar is excellent and the burn for such a short cigar is impressive. The excellence of the JH Shot, and of other My Father releases, gives me confidence that this high level of construction will remain consistent throughout the 2015 release.
Flavor and Strength:
This is where this cigar really shines and where the cigar differs the most from the 2014 release. The cigar begins with a smooth cedar taste with a nice citrus zing to it. There is a subtle spice to the cigar; however, it is more of a sweet spice instead of a pepper or paprika spice. The sweet spice notes are nutmeg and cinnamon and these balance nicely with the citrus zing. This first 10 minutes of the cigar is very different from the 2014 release, which was quite raw and bold. This pre – release is very subtle and nuanced, which is an interesting direction for the blend.
Flavors are wrapped in a smooth creamy texture. This aspect of the finish takes the edge off of the cigar, which focuses your attention on the complex finish. The texture adds another layer to the finish and balances well with the nutmeg and cinnamon notes. As the cigar develops, there is a nice floral quality with hints of mint.
As you can tell, this cigar is getting pretty complex. The risk with complexity is that the cigar does too much, which can overwhelm your palate or the cigar goes so many different ways it does not have an identity. The 2015 Las Calaveras does not fall into either of these traps. The cigar’s flavors and textures are well balanced and nicely layered on each other. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably not something you want to fire up on the golf course with your buddies. This cigar demands your attention; however, everything is balanced well and the finish is not overwhelming.
The nutmeg, sweet spice flavors and creamy texture carry throughout the cigar, which acts as a foundation for the other flavors. As the cigar progresses, interesting caramel and mint notes cut through tobacco and sweet spice flavors. This is not brash, but subtle and add to the experience. At times these flavors all come together and form a Chai tea quality that is difficult to explain. It was a wonderful turn to the finish, but the best way I could think to describe it was Chai tea. This part of the cigar was sweet and spicy, but still had an earthy tobacco quality to it, much like the combination of spice and tea in Chai. This flavor continues throughout the final third of the cigar, with the tobacco flavor gaining more prominence throughout the final third.
I think this cigar is medium in strength. To be honest, the strength surprised me in the final third. I think I was focusing so much on the finish and the different flavors that I didn’t notice the strength earlier in the cigar. This is a good thing and shows a good balance between flavor and strength. The finish was so subtle and nuanced that huge strength coming over the top of that would have crushed these delicate flavors. Having the strength amp up in the end is a good move and puts a nice cap on the entire experience. Moreover, the strength is enough to give the cigar nice structure, but not too much to dominate the cigar.
I wrote in my notes that this cigar is less White Stripes and more Miles Davis. For me, the 2014 Las Calaveras was more bold and raw with big spice, pepper and cocoa. The 2014 release wanted to announce itself to the world and was as raw and bold as early White Stripes releases. The 2014 Las Calaveras was like smoking White Stripe’s record White Blood Cells. However, the 2015 Las Calaveras pre – release was more like Miles Davis’ Flamenco Sketches. Like Miles, the 2015 Las Calavers delivers subtle notes in perfect time with the overall experience. Flavors come in and out of the finish in balance with each other and never overstay their welcome. Much like Davis, no notes are wasted and all add to the experience. I found this pre – release a great move for the blend and really offers smokers something new on the market. This cigar highlights that cigars do not have to be flavor bombs to get your attention, but well crafted interesting flavors can have just as much impact. I look forward to buying five or more of each size and experiencing what this cigar has to offer.