As far as track records are concerned, the Le Carême line from Crowned Heads has a pretty damn perfect one with The Tuesday Night Cigar Club. In 2019 we reviewed the Le Carême Canonazo on Episode 94 and it blew our collective socks off. So much so that it was declared our #4 Cigar of the 2019! And last year’s limited edition also received an impressive 92 score from us. So with these unreasonably high expectations cemented firmly in my brain, let us begin…
Size: 4 x 54 (short robusto)
Wrapper: Connecticut broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Price: $12.95 (the Le Carême Pastelitos 2023 is currently on sale at Famous Smoke Shop and if you use promo code TNCC20 it will take $20 off your order of $100 or more!)
“Since 2015, we’ve had a history of releasing limited edition short-format cigars for the cold weather months when a quick but satisfying smoke is necessary,” said Jon Huber, co-founder of Crowned Heads, in a press release. “Le Carême Pastelitos is the latest in this line of limitadas, and they’re as rich and tasty as the pastries they take their name from.”
This year’s variation has been designated as the Pastelitos which is a Cuban baked pastry filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. All of this talk about food with weird names is making me want to go down the street to my local Czech bakery and grab a heavy-ass bag of klobasneks… but, alas, I have a job to do.
“Short-format” might be technically the correct term for this year’s Le Carême offering but lets’s be real here – this little oily bastard is tiny. The Pastelitos gives off an aroma of chewy sweetness, especially when sniffing the foot of the cigar directly. There’s only a slight give when squeezed and the Pastelitos is topped with a tightly wound pigtail cap.
I try and fail miserably at gently twisting off the pigtail cap in a way that cutting the head of the cigar wouldn’t be necessary. After the blade has been brought in to do its job, the resulting cold draw reveals a raisin-like sweetness and musty leather. Upon ignition, I immediately notice the wonderful aroma pouring off the foot of the Le Carême Pastelitos. Bold pepper spice dominates the retrohale early on, while the draw is comprised of dry hickory, leather, and a slight hint of espresso.
At the 8 minute mark I’m already forced to remove the secondary band to avoid it being charred. Construction so far is spot-fucking-on with a smooth, full draw and even burn. The spice through the nose is maintaining its zing
At the beginning of the middle half, the Le Carême Pastelitos is featuring a draw profile of heavy cream and a much more present espresso note than was previously detected. The hickory has vanished at this point, no complaints from this reviewer, and the mostly muted leather is now resting underneath the cream and espresso. This cigar has an impressive finish that lingers beautifully. Take a puff, exhale, and close your eyes to fully experience it as it hovers around your soul like… an angel? OK, that’s a bit much. It hovers like a hummingbird. There, happy now?
The final inch of the Pastelitos is burning a tad hotter than I would like it to but it’s far from the point where I’m considering thoughts of abandoning the ship. I’m a professional goddammit! Well, professionals get paid actual money… but nonetheless… Construction has remained very good throughout the smoking experience. The burn line did begin to run on me towards the very end but who gives a shit at that point.
Well, no surprise, I enjoyed the Le Carême Pastelitos LE 2023 a great deal. While the somewhat boring initial flavor profile had me slightly worried (for less than a minute), things quickly started to fire on all cylinders in a positive direction. Intoxicating aroma, top notch construction, and a creamy espresso note that danced expertly with the ever-present pepper spice through the nose.
While the Le Carême Pastelitos LE 2023 was a great cigar… the price point makes it difficult for me to imagine picking up another one any time soon. $13 for 42 minutes of smoking pleasure is a price-to-time ratio that I don’t employ very often when there are so many incredible other options (cheaper, larger vitolas) on the shelf of my local cigar shop. Like, for example, the Sfumato in C Major by Crowned Heads. Seek that one out, ladies and germs, it’s a steal and you won’t regret it.