Leaf Speak

MAY 2020

When enjoyed together, these two handcrafted titans combine to reveal notes and flavors neither could achieve on their own.

Visual / Pre-light Draw

The impressive dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the La Imperiosa exhibits a light oil sheen and alluring veins. Almost mysterious in appearance and coupled with an eggshell-blue band trimmed in bright gold, this cigar presents itself as a luxurious physical representation of rest and relaxation. The dry draw offers hints of cereal and oats and the wrapper smells of the interior of a well used barn. The latter description may seem a bit off-putting, but I can assure you, many great wrappers remind me of a decades old barn, and it can be comforting. La Imperiosa was a Cuban cigar brand from the early 1900’s and translates to “the imperative” or “…that which is absolutely necessary or required.” After enjoying a handful of these outstanding cigars, I find the name fitting.

Crowned Heads La Imperiosa

Size: 6 3/8 x 50

Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan 
Vitola:  Double Robusto 

Average Price: 9.50 USD

First Third

Immediately after lighting, the full flavor of the cigar hit my palate and began to make my mouth water. Hints of pepper, earth, and oat swirled around the mouth and were rounded off with a nice touch of dark chocolate, providing an excellent opening and playing very nicely with the first few sips of The Laddie.

This specific vitola is very pleasing to me, and its substantial presence brings another level of enjoyment to the session. I’ll often choose a cigar based on the amount of time available, and as this evening was open, a larger cigar was an easy choice.  

The first third ended with notes of dark fruit, possibly plum, and left me in full anticipation of what was to come.

Second / Final Third

As the ash layers accumulated on the cigar like a relentless snowfall, a metallic note hit my palate and gave me pause. It wasn’t strong but it was there, and I’m not quite sure what to think of it. This middle act saw notes of pepper, dark fruit, cereal, earth, and leather all hit the palate at different times while softening and transforming when a light sip of the dram was enjoyed.

The final third brought a concentration of sharp pepper and leather which, while enjoyable, would have been a bit heavy on the palate if not for the creamy mocha latte core that emerged. This was a welcomed surprise and brought a smile to my face as the last draws were taken.

The Pairing

I thought a fine dram to accompany this cigar was The Classic Laddie from the outstanding Progressive Hebridean Distiller, Bruichladdich. The bottle’s matching eggshell-blue exterior and the golden elixir housed within made for a pleasant visual pairing as well as a strong palate partnership. 


The pairing strategy for La Imperiosa was rooted in contrasting flavor profiles. The intention for this kind of pairing is to unearth hidden flavors of both the whisky and cigar to bring a new appreciation. The Classic Laddie, with its honey, citrus, floral, and vanilla notes seemed like a perfect candidate to duel with the darkened double robusto.  

The whisky and cigar came together beautifully to form a toasted crème brûlée flavor as the honey and vanilla of the malt danced around the earthy oat of the smoke. An excellent pairing, though maybe not an obvious one.

Another sip of the unpeated Islay nectar really solidified my enjoyment of this pairing.

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