Boutique Wednesday Cigar Review: E. P. Carrillo Edicion Inaugural 2009


Size: Robusto, 53/8x52

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano (3 year old)

Binder: Double, Nicaraguan and Dominican (5 year old)

Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican (2-3 years old)

Strength: Medium

Grade: 9.3

Price: Box of 10, $130

As we work through the first couple months of 2010, it’s hard not to look back at all the excellent releases of 2009. It was, in my opinion, a great year for new releases. The EP Carrillo is another such release. The newly formed EPC Cigar Company was kind enough to send us a few samples of their introductory cigar.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is best known for the La Gloria Cubana brand. Having a desire to involve his son Ernie and daughter Lissette in the industry, he left General Cigar Company after 9 years and began work on a family business, EPC Cigar Company. Ernesto and company wanted to get a blend out there fast and chose to release a limited edition stick. Released at the 2009 IPCPR, this stick uses tobacco too rare for frequent use, and was made in only one size, a 5 3/8x 52 Robusto known as the Encore. The first full line is slated for release in Spring of 2010. Production of the Encore will cease with the introduction of the new line this Spring; the estimated production is 150,000, so pick them up while you can. You’ll find them at select retailers online, non-discounted, and at some B&M’s.

When preparing to choose a factory, Ernesto chose to locate in the Dominican. Here is a bit of information on his choice, from his website:

When time came to choose a location for the EPC Cigar Co. factory, Ernesto knew exactly where it needed to be located. In April 2009, he signed a lease on a 40,000 square foot stand-alone building in Santiago’s Zona Franca, and immediately began the construction of his dream factory, which he named Tabacalera La Alianza.

Here is where the tobacco will be fermented, aged, hand-made, and packaged under the supervision of Ernesto and his protégés, Yunior Torres and Edua Checo. Spread across 12 rolling tables, experienced cigar-rollers are in essence re-learning their craft as they are trained to roll cigars the “Cuban way” – the cigars are beautifully finished with a triple-seam cap.

There is not a lot of information on this cigar, so I relied heavily upon other reviews on the stick and interviews with Ernesto. Be sure to check out these folks!

This stick is quite a departure from Carrillo’s work with LGC, which was intentional, and I think you will be very happy with the product. Keep an eye on their website, which is in construction but currently has a little bit of information. You may also follow them on Twitter.

Pre-light, 1.8:
The Encore is silky smooth with a dark almond wrapper that is double banded with a nice gloss to it. The band is a very distinguished design in red, yellow, and black, with a second thin band bearing the details of Edicion Inaugural 2009. The aroma carries a rather strong barnyard that is cool and crisp. The construction is excellent, minus one soft spot at the head that is quite spongy; otherwise, a perfect roll that is nice and tight with a well packed and shaped foot, and a medium draw that reveals a flavor very similar to the exterior aroma.

Burn, 1.8:
The Encore started off burning a bit odd, with the edges burning more quickly than the center, with a small hole forming; however, this corrected itself quickly and turned into a slow and steady burn throughout. The ash was predominately white, though a bit flakey, and moved in various directions with jagged stacking through the first third. The final two-thirds presented a flawless burn. The smoke emitted was very thick and carried an excellent aroma of sweet tobacco, which was a departure from the dominate flavor profile. The draw tightened a little into the second third and required a bit more attention, but nothing major.

Flavor, 2.9:
This was one complex cigar! The first third started off with a shot of spice to peak your interest and moved into a very smooth and creamy cigar with minor hints of body. The second-third remained creamy with notes of burnt toast and a medium roast with a caramelized sweetness coating the pallet. The final third presented some fruit undertones with a flavor that remained complex and varied—this cigar definitely had a moving character to it.

Overall, the flavor profile was extremely well balanced and the age on the tobacco is noted immediately, with all the flavors being perfectly married. I can’t imagine what some time will do to this stick. Reading other reviews on this stick, a smorgasbord of flavors was mentioned. For me it was the same, getting a palate balance of spice and sweet, complimented by barnyard notes of hay and grass, earth notes of pencil wood and oak barrel, and random hints of fruit. This was a joy to smoke.

Overall, 2.8:
I debated the scoring in this category; at $13 a stick, and the fact that is a limited run cigar, I made a minor deduction. The experimental wrapper used for this cigar will not be available again until 2012; perhaps then, when grown in larger quantity, the price will decrease a bit and the stick will be easier to come by. I had to pace myself on this one, as I never wanted to put it down in between puffs; it was so complex and yet incredibly smooth. Though a seasoned veteran, this is one heck of an introductory cigar! If you see these, pick up a box because I doubt this exact blend will be produced again.

(Total: 9.3)