Staff Review: Crowned Heads Le Careme Pastelitos
Today I will be reviewing Crowned Heads’ Le Careme Pastelitos. Small but mighty, Pastelitos presents a new take on the acclaimed Le Careme line.
First time reading our reviews? Check out our guide to how we consider blends here. Otherwise, feel free to skim the quick hits or dive deep into any section below and find the full details of Le Careme Pastelitos. Let’s go.
The Quick Hits:
- Preceded by 2022’s LE of Le Careme – Le Careme Belicosos Finos
- Pastelitos features a pigtail and is round cap unlike the regular box-pressed version
- Main tasting notes consist of milk chocolate, black pepper, and doughy soft pretzel
- Recommended for: fans of Ashton Aged Maduro, Mi Querida, RoMa Craft CroMagnon
Pastelitos utilizes the same blend of the regular production Le Careme lines – an almost black Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and finished with a blend of filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. What sets Pastelitos apart from the regular production lines is the compact 4” x 54 vitola, the aesthetically pleasing pigtail cap, and the fact that the cigar is round instead of box-pressed. It may not seem like much, but from my experience, these changes definitely provide an experience that is different from that of the regular production sizes.
The more I look at Pastelitos (and Le Careme in general), the more I start to feel like it might be my favorite design from Crowned Heads. Just as Marie-Antoine Careme (the influential French chef that Le Careme was named in honor of) was known for his delicate yet bold approach to cuisine, Le Careme’s design mirrors this in a way.
The primary band on Le Careme Pastelitos gives off a sense of sophistication and confidence with its wispy accents and lively color palate – it’s simple yet detailed, and against the extremely dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, the white, gold, and blue band stands out in the best of ways.
I have also always been a fan of the simple design of the limited-edition secondary bands that are used throughout most of the cigar industry. It doesn’t take anything away from the main focus of the primary band, and I love the fact that it’s reminiscent of traditional Cuban cigar limited edition secondary bands.
I hadn’t smoked one of the regular production Le Careme sizes in quite some time, but from what I remember, there wasn’t too much I didn’t like about them. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the fact that Crowned Heads has so many other top-notch blends or what, but regardless, from here on out, I will no longer forget about the glory that is Le Careme (neither limited edition nor regular production size).
It isn’t too often that I find a blend hit its full potential within the first couple of puffs, but Pastelitos definitely did. Rich notes of milk chocolate mingled with the spicy black pepper were in the forefront with a distinct creamy sweetness on the backend that tied the two main flavors together beautifully. The best part of the first third was the slightly salty and doughy notes that defined the retrohale, reminding me of a genuine soft pretzel (sorry SuperPretzel, I’m not talking about you).
As I moved into the second third, the strength of Le Careme Pastelitos was inching it’s way closer to the full mark, which honestly almost flew under the radar as I was more focused on the immense amount of flavor from the blend. The milk chocolate and black pepper notes remained consistent through the second third, and the addition of flavors of leather and hay were a nice addition into the fold.
The final third represented a relaxing close to an otherwise incredibly delicious blend. The leather, earth, milk chocolate, and black pepper notes took a step back in intensity, and the creaminess and sweetness that I found in the first third came closer to the forefront. Like how I would run a “cool down” lap after I just ran an 800m track race (hypothetically speaking of course), the seemingly mellowing out of the final third of Le Careme Pastelitos was a perfect transition to bring me back to some kind of normalcy (although I did think about my craving to smoke another Pastelitos for the rest of the workday).
In summary, Le Careme Pastelitos was a journey that I would encourage anyone to go on. Dare I say that Pastelitos is my favorite Crowned Heads limited edition release of all time?
At around $13.00 a cigar, I’m not going to sit here and say that this is the best bang for your buck considering it’s relatively small stature. But I will say that it is absolutely worth the price tag. Sure, you can find a lot of good cigars that are less expensive than this, but if you are looking for an almost perfectly constructed and outrageously flavorful treat of a blend, then look no further than Le Careme Pastelitos – this is the perfect example of “you get what you pay for.”
An aesthetically clean design, an exceptionally flavorful blend, and an underrated size make Le Careme Pastelitos a cigar that I would recommend to almost anyone. To avoid overly complicating things, I would suggest that you go buy a box of Pastelitos before they sell out.
I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on Le Careme Pastelitos, so be sure to leave a comment. In the meantime, I’m going to go smoke another Pastelitos – it’s been far too long.