Bite Size Review: Crowned Heads Le Carême 2018 L.E. Belicosos Finos
As it turns out, this is somewhat of a bittersweet review. As I write this in the waning moments of game 7 of the World Series, just over 160 miles from me, my home state Astros came up short in a contest highlighted by an absurd history-making series of road wins by the now champion Nationals. Cuh-razy. Kudos, Washington. Fortunately, the “sweet” part centers on my review of another Crowned Heads effort, the branding of which provides no inkling of it’s boutique maker.
Like so many creations, especially cigars, there is usually a heaping helping of passion and inspiration and a pinch of homage that is manifested in the final product. Personal experiences, milestones, historical events and meaningful tributes – just a few of the ingredients that make the tangible special. In case my subtle hints haven’t caused you to question, “where the hell is he going with this?”, well, pay attention.
In the summer of 2016, Crowned Heads launched Le Carême, a 4-vitola, trunk-pressed cigar bound by a Broadleaf wrapper and touted as a medium-bodied, complex blend. By early 2018, it was decided to add a 5th member to the band and to limit production to 18,000 cigars. CR and oft collaborator E.P. Carrillo massaged the original blend into a belicoso vitola intended for [a] “…next level dimension of richness and flavor to an already exquisite blend.”
The vitola is modeled after one of Jon Huber’s (and mine) “desert-island” cigars, the Cuban Bolivar Belicosos Finos. A curious choice, but no argument here. As for the name, many make the mistake of thinking “Carême” somehow translates to “cream”, which it doesn’t, but by accident, they’re not far off. In fact, “Carême” is a tip of the hat to the “king of chefs” Marie-Antoine Carême, an innovative 19th century French chef that revolutionized fine haute cuisine, particularly his unique uses of sugar. Corny references revealed.
Hewn in a vitola following that of a classic Cuban cigar, there’s a focus on presentation. While the Belicosos Finos execution doesn’t disappoint, there are natural differences. The Broadleaf skin imparts a dark, marbled-toffee hue that is oily, veiny, seamless and surprisingly slick to the touch. Its uniform firmness is reassuring as are the fragrant aromas of chocolate, earth and a floral essence. The cold draw is open with ~ 3/8” cut and provides a sharp tang of Worcestershire on the palate.
Our chef-inspired feast kicks off with an ultra-smooth mélange of cream, pie crust and anise notes. There’s a delectably light nutty draw and she finishes with notes of peanuts and coffee. As our belicoso settles in, she puts out a dreamy smorgasbord of mild vanilla, nougat, nutmeg and an airy tang of cedar. There is more oatmeal on the finish as she develops a light spice. Transitions are equally as delicious behind oaky cores balanced with notes of caramel, chocolate and Worcestershire.
Combustion is aces, but be warned, she’s a slow burner so take it easy. The belicoso produces a good amount of smoke complemented by a strong, near-white ash. This is a deeply rich, enchanting smoke that offers a ridiculously complex profile that walks the mild-to-medium-bodied line well while resisting the need to add strength for the sake of itself. I can’t entirely agree with Carrillo’s comparison to eating a chocolate soufflé because there’s so much more going on. Aficionados will appreciate the complexity, but Le Carême is a cigar just about everyone will enjoy. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Like many of their cigars, Le Carême’s blend has E. P. Carrillo’s fingerprints on it and are also produced at his Tabacalera La Alianza factory in the Dominican Republic.
- Profile: Medium
- Vitola: Belicoso
- Length / Ring Gauge: 5.5″x52
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $10.00
- Humidor Age: 14 mo.
- Box: 12 (limited to 1,500 boxes)
- Other Vitolas: (Regular Production) Cosacos [5 3/8″x42], Hermoso No. 1 [6.5″x48], Robusto [5″x50], Canonazo [5 7/8″x52]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:31
Draw: Semi open
Construction: Dark, oily toffee hue; nice belicoso execution; seamless; veiny; semi-slick feel; uniformly firm; holds strong 1″ ash; good smoke production.
- Wrapper – Chocolatey, floral essense
- Foot – Earthy, chocolate
- Cold Draw – Worcestershire
- Initial: Light, nutty draw; ultra smooth with lots of cream; hints of vanilla, anise, nougat and pie crust notes on retro; light and airy; tang of cedar on palate; moderate finish of peanuts and coffee; develops light spice and nutmeg notes late.
- Transition: Woody core; background of Worcestershire with tangy, semi-sweet draw; finishes with notes oatmeal and cedar notes; residual nutmeg notes on retro.
- Transition: Deep, rich caramel and oak core; spice on tongue with hints of molasses; complex finish of wood and espresso with residue of cola; toasty draw.
Touch ups: N/A
- Boxworthy / Go-to
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]