Wrapper: USA Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Size: 5.5 x 52
Today we take a look at the Crowned Heads Le Careme Belicosos Finos LE 2019.
Thanks to my bud, Ken Glass.
According to Halfwheel.com (4-14-2019):
“Crowned Heads has announced that it is once again releasing the Le Carême Belicosos Finos, a 5 1/2 x 52 belicoso, which originally debuted last year as a limited edition from the company. The cigar uses the same blend as the regular production Le Carême—a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over an Ecuadorian Sumatran binder and Nicaraguan fillers—however, it is round instead of box-pressed like the other vitolas.
“When we released the 2018 LE, we knew we had something special,” said Jon Huber, Crowned Heads co-founder, in a press release. “But we really had no idea that the Le Carême Belicosos Fino would go on to do what it did. We actually had made the decision to produce the EL 2019 in September last year, well before the annual ‘awards season’ came into play.”
“Pricing remains $10 per cigar, the same as last year, but production has been increased from 1,500 boxes of 12 to 2,500 boxes of 12. The new version also receives a foot band.”
In normal indoor light, the wrapper is very dark and foreboding. As my photos show, exposed to direct sunlight, the wrapper shimmers. It is very rustic looking. Very toothy.
Lumpy and bumpy. The cap is decent although this one tilts to the right. Lots of veins but seams are relatively tight. Not a great looking cigar but hopefully, it is camouflage.
The stick is hard as a rock. May need to do some muff diving with my poker to straighten things out…we shall see.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Smells exactly like teriyaki beef jerky. Along with tads of chocolate and coffee with cream. There is a lovely floral arrangement going on. Big dollop of barnyard. And lastly, elements of red pepper, strong vanilla ice cream, and rich tobacco.
I attempt to do the cold draw thing but the cigar is totally packed and behaving like a flattened straw. Out comes my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool. I shudder in horror when I need to use this poker with a belicoso, torpedo, or lancero. It takes nerves of steel to make sure I don’t penetrate the wrapper. Steady hands.
The cold draw presents flavors of hot cinnamon and red pepper, cream, beef jerky, Mexican chocolate, espresso, cream, cedar, barnyard, and a touch of ginger.
It is smokestack lightnin’. A runaway locomotive covering the countryside with smoke.
First up to bat…black and red pepper, dark espresso, some creaminess, a sweet factor that is hard to discern at this early juncture.
Strength is immediately medium/full. No fucking around with this blend.
A musty element enjoins the flavor profile. Hmmm…
This is a very dark blend. These are very rich tobaccos that really deepen the effect of its overall flavor profile.
I just reviewed the Las Calaveras 2019. Great cigar. Harkens back to the original blend in 2014. This baby reminds me of the La Imperiosa. But richer and with a bigger slug fest in the complexity department.
Transitions begin. The finish is all pepper and various complex ditties that have no mother.
This blend is certainly a major departure from other Crowned Heads’ blends. I like it. Shows some serous testicles.
An inch in, and the flavor profile is now warming up…not so fragmented as I see the blend is developing some uniqueness.
I expect to be hallucinating cartoon elephants in tutus by the end of this stick. Don’t think this cigar is for the faint of heart.
I like ballsy cigars. You can have medium strength sticks. I like a blend that hits you in the gut with a baseball bat. Something that makes a serious impact.
Complexity is on schedule. Nice flow of flavors that are super rich and deeply pertinent.
Now it’s cooking.
This is great. The last 6 reviews I’ve written were all great sticks. I believe I must contact Guinness. The Katman likes 7 cigars in a row.
Thank you, Ken…you’re in the will.
A big kick in the pants now. Flavors explode creating a double pearl necklace on my palate. The Crowned Heads Le Careme Belicosos Finos LE 2019 takes off like a bat outta hell.
Construction is on the money. No burn issues. No nothing issues. Right on, mother fuckers.
It isn’t a flavor bomb. Just a solid, good tasting cigar. You guys that fret about not having great palates will love this stick. You don’t need a trained palate to really enjoy this cigar. Hubba, hubba…homina, homina, homina…
Kind of a quick first third; finished in about 20 minutes or so.
I was wondering if it would take this route, and does…the lovely Worcestershire sauce component with its disparate elements of molasses, salt, umami, tamarind, onions, garlic, and lemon.
This baby is digging deep. I love the progression of this blend. Starts off fairly easy going and descends to the depths of full on masterful cigar blending. This was a brilliant idea by Mr. Huber. They turn left and you turn right.
This is becoming one mother of a unique stick. How much is it? $10.00. Huzzah! Worth every nickel. I smoked a $25 stick this weekend that doesn’t come close to this baby.
Strength is now full tilt. But my vision is intact. So far, so good.
Except for the 2014 and 2019 Las Calaveras, this might be my favorite Crowned Heads’ blend. No shit.
A touch up is required. No biggie.
That early mustiness disappeared pretty quickly but it returns. I don’t like it.
Normally, mustiness is a byproduct of too much age or the wrong humidification. As this is a new cigar, I have no idea why mustiness is intruding. I’m guessing with a few more months of humidor time, it will disappear for good.
The cigar hits the roundabout and begins to go in circles with no way out.
The complexity takes a nosedive. Hopefully, a momentary exercise in futility. I await the return of the Phoenix.
Short break to allow the stick to gather its thoughts.
So…how was your 4th? It was 94 with 75% humidity here. All day affair at the kids’ home as it was also my grandson’s 2nd birthday. I was surrounded by half the Milwaukee TEU and SWAT guys and gals. Plus, firefighters and paramedics. I told every one of them I smoke weed. They could give a shit. We just finished 11 days of Summerfest here. The largest music festival in the world with over 300 musical acts. One cop showed me photos of his sniper post using a high-tech military .308. Scary.
The Crowned Heads Le Careme Belicosos Finos LE 2019 found its legs during my 5-minute time out. Mustiness is gone.
The classic rock station sucks this morning.
Maybe the last third will change, but at the moment, the blend is in stasis. Not a bad thing as it decides to go with what it has. And that’s good. It is constant and reliable with that severe richness emanating from the wonderful blend of leaves.
And an eye goes south on me. The race is on to finish the cigar while I still have vision in one eye. Gotta love nicotine…
I reviewed the Southern Draw Fraternal Order Black only available by walking through the doors of Cigars International. It was an ungodly strong cigar. The La Careme is fighting for that belt as the strength is on an upward trajectory of permanent brain damage. Fortunately, the La Careme ain’t 7 x 60 like the SD.
The smoke time slowed down enormously. Finally hit the halfway point after 45 minutes.
Finally…”Little Wing” by SRV. He has taken a lot of heat for playing Jimi; especially for “VooDoo Chile.”
This is an excellent stick. The price is appropriate. Flavors are interesting. Transitions aren’t in full force but, nevertheless, a potent entrance. And a very rich base of delicate and bombastic tobaccos. The finish isn’t exotic but does the trick.
Smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.
The profile burps and spews some interesting shit…the creaminess is leading the charge. Right behind are big flavors of very dark bittersweet chocolate, Turkish espresso, black pepper, caramel and molasses, citrus, steak sauce, and red-hot cinnamon.
Nicotine calms way the fuck down. Vision reappears in my left eye. I find this bizarre. I can’t remember a strong cigar backing down on its toxic level of Vitamin N. I vote yes.
I suggest smoking it on a full belly…if you don’t like hallucinations. Me? I love ‘em.
For the first time, the Crowned Heads Le Careme Belicosos Finos LE 2019 changes path and the intensity relaxes. A sweet smoothness appears. Transitions kick into high gear. The finish, while still black pepper heavy, finds bits of sweet and savory overtones.
This is a limited blend. Everyone is selling them. But not for long. Once word gets out how good this cigar is, you will find it difficult to find it a month from now.
I get emails from you guys cursing at me when I smoke a good find. You don’t like a bitch slappin’ from the wife so it’s my fault.
This is the part of the cigar when all I want to do is sit back, listen to music and stare out the window. Writing about it is a pain in the arse.
Absolutely fucking delicious!
It becomes a solid 90+ minute smoke.
Get some while they’re hot.
And now for something completely different:
One of my many experiences with drugs and corruption in the music industry.
Long ago and far away…Early 1980’s.
Rick was an ex-con. And he was my friend. He did some serious time in Quentin for boosting cars. But by the time I met him, he had been a free man for 10 years. To be honest, I really don’t know what Rick was in for…I took him at his word and left it alone.
I met him at a friend’s party. We started talking music and hit it off. A very clever and funny guy.
Rick was a gentle giant. But he could turn on an imposing and menacing appearance if he needed to project a scarier than shit demeanor. I saw that happen a couple times and I’m pretty sure no one fucked with him in prison.
Rick was loyal to a fault. Whenever the rigors of running a recording studio seven days a week got to me, I’d take a mental health break and visit him for a couple of hours. When I arrived, he always shooed away the coke whores so we would be uninterrupted.
We’d sit on his patio, in the sun, smoke cigars and drink his homemade lemonade. I was able to return to my studio and deal with all the bullshit in a calmer, more relaxed, frame of mind.
Rick was the kind of guy who made it clear there was nothing he wouldn’t do for you. But if you cheated him, or crossed him, God help you.
I was in the middle of my Butch “Eddie Munster” Patrick project and running my recording studio at the same time. There weren’t enough hours in the day and this had me pulling my hair out. Rick always provided sound advice and became my consigliere. I was surrounded at the studio by “yes” men. I had no one that would openly speak their mind because of their fear of being fired by me.
Corruption in the music industry, in the 1980’s, had not changed an iota since the scandals of the 1950’s. Payola was in force and no one fucked with that concept. Bribery was an everyday affair. Blackmail came in a close second.
Record companies cheated their artists. Clubs cheated their artists. Entertainment lawyers cheated their clients. Getting a record played on the radio required definitive actions: Juice, payola, drugs, and crooked DJ’s.
In 1983, I had just completed the production of the Butch Patrick single, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”
After the recording project had a pretty bow tied around it and all the ancillary PR material was complete, I ventured into unknown territory…the music video. Mind you, this was the era of the very start of MTV.
This my first try at writing, producing, and directing a rock music video and the end result was better than expected. It was a real bitch but we pulled it off. I had a great team to help me flesh out my vision of a silly novelty song.
I’m rather proud of what was accomplished. The song is only 2 minutes long but the video has 33 scenes. An edit every 3.6 seconds. We beat the “Bourne” series of films that was the dawn of the lightning fast edit, by three decades.
As a side note, you can’t find the video on YouTube. I own the copyright and if it becomes public property then I lose the right to charge Hollywood production companies and TV shows a hefty fee for a temporary license. You can hear the song on YouTube but anyone that tries to post the video incurs the wrath of Kohn. And the videos are taken down within 24 hours.
Since my copyright is good for life +65 years, I can pass it down to my daughter, Katie. That way, if Butch climbs a tall clock tower with a scoped rifle, she can make a fortune selling licensing rights to the video.
My copyright was for the video only. Universal Studios owns the right to the music…as we used the Munster theme and added lyrics about Butch. Negotiating those rights was a horror movie and took more time than expected. They don’t call Universal Studios “The Black Tower” for no reason.
Over the years, I’ve gotten frantic phone calls and messages from friends who said they heard the song played on the radio and I should get my royalties. I don’t own the “The Munsters” theme. Universal does. I can only go after someone that played the video without my permission. Butch would go on TV talk shows or those washed up child actor documentaries and he lied and told them he owned the rights to the video. It put me in the perfect position to go after the production company…after the fact. It gave me a great bargaining advantage as they had already shown the video.
We were signed by a shiny new record label that had been started by big shots from some prestigious record companies…all backed by the mob. The owner, Rocky Davis was an ex-con…and basically a front man for the organization. His wife Shirley was his partner (In name only). The name of the record company was taken from their names: Rocky and Shirley = Rocshire.
I don’t know the full extent of the mob ties but my guess is that Rocshire blew their wad signing dozens of acts. They grew too quickly, too soon. And they got into serious money trouble. So, Shirley, who worked for Hughes Aircraft, embezzled $15 million and funneled it to an unknown group of people to keep them happy.
Of course, at the time, I had no idea of these shenanigans.
Rocshire Records sent Butch and me all over the country doing TV and radio and public appearances. I didn’t want to go but Butch had substance abuse issues and needed a full-time babysitter…Me. The record label insisted I go with him. Before I was Uncle Katman, I was Daddy Katman.
The band, “Eddie & the Monsters” was strictly Milli Vanilli. Butch can’t sing. One of the Monsters, Brent Black, did the vocals on both songs of the 45. Butch was also credited with playing bass. Give you one guess who really did the bass playing. The only other Monster that actually played on the record was drummer Reek Havok (Google him). I used session players for both songs.
Rocshire instructed me on the art of corruption and bribery. I always had to have some coke and cash ready to distribute to the radio DJ’s and program directors as we toured the country. Rick was my connection. He took a cut of the project to be one of my financial partners. He had no shortage of dough or coke.
If you saw the movie, “Blow” with Johnny Depp…all that shit was true. Coke hit L.A. in the early 80’s like a blinding blizzard. Everyone was doing it. It was chic. And then it spread to the rest of the country. Although, I’m sure Miami wasn’t hurting.
The whole time I played in a rock band in England during the 1970’s, I never saw coke once. It was always hash or pot.
Rick got the biggest kick that I always turned down his offers to do a snoot full when I visited. I visited to get away and relax…not get all amped up. Plus, I just didn’t like the way it made my nose and face feel numb. And it made me paranoid. The stuff accentuated the manic behavior that had become my lifestyle as a result of too much on my professional plate.
One day, Rick took me up to his bedroom’s walk-in closet that had a huge lock on the door. Inside, he had a 4-drawer chest. On it rested his paraphernalia and large digital scale.
So, this one particular day, he wanted to show off how he processed his coke. He was able to take the plain looking white powder and give it an opalescent appearance that customers equated with perfection and purity.
I sat next to him as he showed me the steps required. He had this huge mirror with about 3 ounces of cocaine on it. Right in the middle of explaining the steps, he elbowed the mirror and 3 ounces of coke exploded into the air. It became a snowstorm.
Some of the chest’s drawers were open and the white powder coated the clothes inside. The carpet and our shoes were covered by it. It was all over my knees.
I remember hyperventilating. I don’t remember what the drug cost back then but that much coke had to have been worth a lot of dough.
Rick never lost a beat as he continued to explain his process. I finally choked out the words, “Rick. Your coke is everywhere!!”
In a calming voice, he told me not to worry. He told me that he had a special hand vacuum that would pick up 95% of it. I really hoped so because Rick was a big man and I didn’t want to be there if he went postal due to his klutziness.
Meanwhile, all I could think was that this would be the exact moment that a SWAT team would enter and find the both of us covered in white powder and I’d end up being some guy named Swifty’s bitch in prison for the next 20 years.
I had a real piece of shit press agent named John Collins…a Brit. I went through a bunch of PR agents before I settled on this one shark of a fuck. And he was involved with the mob activities and a talent scout for Rocshire. I had no idea at the time.
After “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” was released, I got a call from John and he told me to immediately bring him $3000 ($7700 in 2019 dollars). He had the program director from the big radio station KROQ in his office who agreed to put our Eddie Munster record in heavy rotation…for a price.
I called Rick and told him to bring some money. We were about to negotiate. Of course, what I didn’t know at the time was that it was all bullshit. John just needed the dough for himself and the radio guy was a scam.
We got there and did the transaction. It felt slimy. We were promised to see the record played 3-4 times per day depending on the reaction from their listening audience.
The program director must have been all coked up because he was like a human jack-in-the-box…never stopped moving, speed talking, and jumping around. Rick and I looked at each other and read each other’s minds…program director, my ass.
Weeks passed, and of course, not once did we hear the song on KROQ.
Rick was furious. I mean he was enraged.
Rick showed up unexpectedly at my studio and said we had to go talk to my press agent. Now!
I made the call and we left immediately for Hollywood. I knew what was going to transpire. Rick felt betrayed. This was something Rick didn’t tolerate. I knew Rick was going to scare the shit out of this asshole and hopefully get the money back. Rick yelled all the way…a good 45-minute drive. I kept quiet and smiled. This fucker in Hollywood had no idea I was about to introduce him to King Kong.
Rick and I walked past the receptionist and we barged into the press agent’s office.
“We want our money back now!!” Rick put both his huge hands on the shoulders of this guy keeping him from getting out of his chair. I saw a fire storm in Rick’s eyes.
The press agent made a bunch of lousy excuses, told us to chill, told us to be patient, and just dug the hole deeper and deeper. He still didn’t get that I brought the Grim Reaper with me to his office.
Rick removed his hands from the agent and pulled back his jacket and showed the guy a huge stainless steel .357 magnum revolver in his shoulder holster. I didn’t see that coming.
I couldn’t stand the arrogance of this British wanker.
But then things got out of control quickly. Rick’s inner demons rushed to the forefront.
Rick pulled the revolver out and slammed the 6” barrel into the side of John’s head causing him to fall backwards in his chair. He slammed into the floor like he was hit by a train.
Rick then went around the desk and hit him once more…this time with his giant fist.
“Get our money!! NOW!!”
John cried uncontrollably.
I didn’t blame him.
But I was beginning to seriously worry about what we had just gotten ourselves into. But this guy was so dirty and tied so tightly to Rocshire Records…and the mob, that he couldn’t do shit. What would he say to the police, if called? “These guys wanted their illegal payola money back because I lied and scammed them.” His mob bosses and Rocshire would be pissed off.
The press agent thought Rick was going to kill him. I sort of wondered the same thing.
While crying, John kept asking Rick not to hurt him anymore. Rick screamed at him saying it was the last time he would ask for his money.
The press agent reached into his desk and grabbed a cash box and handed all the cash to Rick. It was way more than $3000. Rick counted out what he was owed and threw the rest of the cash into the face of the prick…who had crawled underneath his desk for safety. I couldn’t help it…I started laughing. Then Rick started laughing. The PR agent was still crying.
Rick left his with these words: “You ever try to cheat us again and I’m going to bury you in the desert…Alive!”
Obviously, we never had another problem with this guy. He was too afraid to call the police.
Of course, Rocshire Records got the last word later on when they were taken down by the FBI. We sold 181,000 units in a couple months and I got 25 cents per single right up front.
I had a production deal. So, I provided all finished material to the record company: Mastered tapes, finished 45 single sleeve, promo photos, T-shirts, and the music video. So, they only had to press it, distribute it, and promote it.
I got $900 for two weeks of sale in the first quarter. My second quarter earnings should have been close to $50K ($129,000 in 2019 dollars). But alas, the FBI swooped in and shut everything down. That brouhaha over the $3K seemed like chump change at that point. I never got paid my royalties.
I was interrogated by the FBI twice. I told the truth and they never contacted me again. Clearly, I was just some stupid musician patsy for Rocshire.
I lost touch with Rick over the years. He called me in the late 80’s and asked if he could borrow $500. I told him of course. We met and had a great time reminiscing.
But Rick was now making a living gambling in the legal poker palaces in Gardena. His wife had left him. And he no longer did drugs. Plus, the market had changed drastically from those early days in the early 80’s. Demand was low.
I have no idea where he is now. Hopefully, not prison…or worse.
A week after my last FBI interview, Butch showed up drunk at my house in Long Beach. It was barely noon and he was sloshed.
He wagged our contract in my face demanding I pay him the basic minimum of $10K guaranteed to him in my management deal with him.
I had just lost $50K. I was behind on my mortgage and car payments. My recording studio partner, Dave, was embezzling studio income while I was on the fucking road with Butch. I was broke.
And now this shit heel, has-been was demanding I pay him $10,000.
Everything went black after that. I have no idea how I responded. But it was the last time I ever saw Butch.
A few weeks later, Butch had a meeting with NBC. He was pitching my project to them about a new Munsters show. They loved it. He forgot to mention that except for appearing in the video and posing for promo photos, he had nothing to do with the project besides promoting it.
They called him back a week later and said the project was a go.
But Butch would not be included in the project. He was out.
They did a few episodes but they were so bad they scrapped them.
I got a phone call from Butch telling me how he got scammed. He wanted my help to negotiate. He did all this shit behind my back and now because they fucked him, I was now his best friend once again.
I hung up on him.
While the Eddie and the Monsters project was scrapped, they decided to do a new Munsters show starring John Schuck as Herman, with all new characters. It was in syndication for a couple years before it was cancelled. It was a desecration of the original show.
So now you know whose fault it is that NBC foisted a new and terrible version of The Munsters on an unsuspecting public.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS
Love your honest reviews and back-in-the-day stories. You’re a regular read while I’m out in the garage having a smoke and adult beverage.
Take care and keep up the great work!
Awesome review. I was hesitant to try these, because I found the La Carême a bit too one dimensional. Can’t agree more with your assessment now, though.
Wow what can I say? Great cigar and great story. You are one of the best.
Thank you Joe…high praise indeed.