Cigar Review: E.P. Carillo Cardinal Maduro 54

Cigar Review: E.P. Carillo Cardinal Maduro 54

E.P. Carillo Cardinal Maduro 54

Size: Toro (6″ x 54)

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Strength: Medium-Full

Price: (Pre-Release Sample) $7.25-$8.75 MSRP depending on Vitola

One of my favorite cigar makers is Ernesto Perez Carillo. In fact his New Wave Connecticut and recently discontinued Elencos are two of my favorite blends and are regular smokes in my rotation (they were reviewed by my predecessors here and here). My review of the Short Run 2012 can be found here. What always impresses me with EPC is the ability to blend cigars with excellent flavor despite using a variety of different tobaccos.

At IPCPR Ernesto unveiled his latest creation, Cardinal. Little information was released about the cigar at the trade show but a good bit has filtered out since then. The Cardinal is a departure for EPC in that it features only Nicaraguan filler and binder. There are two releases, a Natural, using an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, and a Maduro, using Connecticut Broadleaf for the wrapper. It is said that the Cardinal was to be Ernesto’s foray into the arena of full-bodied cigars.

At a recent EPC cigar tasting featuring the INCH I was able to get my hands on a pre-release sample of the Cardinal 54 Maduro from Ernesto Jr. This cigar was given to me without knowledge that I was going to review it for ToastedFoot.Com. As always, I appreciate the generosity shown by manufacturers, however it does not influence my reviews.

But enough about that, let’s toast the foot!

Grade: 9.3

Pre-Light: (1.9) The Cardinal Maduro features a lovely, thick, dark broadleaf wrapper with a lot of mottling, a number of veins, and a good bit of texture providing it with some really nice visual character. There is, of course, a triple cap. The cigar is well packed and firm to the touch.

The scent off the foot is absolutely intoxicating. The Elencos series has always had one of my favorite pre-light aromas amongst all the cigars I’ve smoked. Frankly, I think the Cardinal’s pre light aroma was even better. There were aromas of sweet molasses syrup, honey, graham cracker, cocoa, a hint of tea, spice, and of course, rich tobacco.
The pre light draw offered up more of that tea flavor I smelled off the foot, as well as honey, graham cracker, and a natural tobacco sweetness.

Burn: (1.8) The draw on the Cardinal was excellent, with just a slight resistance. The ash held to the inch mark. I did notice the ash wasn’t as strong as the Cardinal progressed.

Flavor: (2.8) The Cardinal Maduro opens up with really nice dry bakers cocoa, and spice at the light. The smoke is thick and textured. Very quickly the Cardinal Maduro opens up the cupboard and starts hitting the palate with wonderful, rich flavors. In the first inch I can taste some floral, some tea, cocoa, a very refined pepper, and that graham cracker thick sweetness I smelled on the pre-light. The flavors are rich and textured, complex, balanced, and diverse.

Smoking into the second third and I notice a transition occurring in the flavor profile. There is a raisin-like note that creeps into the flavor profile which then transitions into more of a deep red wine which stays in the middle of the flavor profile with the cocoa on the forefront and a very smooth mild pepper to the finish. The flavors are rich and tangy. The smoke is absolutely full bodied. At this I’d say the strength is in the upper range of medium.

As I smoke into the last third the dry cocoa and red wine notes start to shift again. There is a bit of a dry oakiness that emerges however all the other flavors that were present in the Cardinal Maduro continue to make note-worthy appearances throughout the last two inches. I even get more of that raisin I tasted earlier. As I smoke to the nub I get a hint of floral mixing in. As I wind down the EPC Cardinal Maduro I know I just smoked a fantastic, full flavored, full bodied cigar, but I’m a little unsure if I would call this cigar full strength…..until I stood up and then knew it was!

Overall: (2.8) The EPC Cardinal Maduro is an excellent departure for Ernesto yet manages to maintain his hallmark excellence in blending for flavor. The Cardinal Maduro is absolutely rich, almost decadent in it’s flavor, especially in the first two thirds. The smoke is full, the construction top notch, and I can see that Ernesto has another masterpiece that will find a place in my regular rotation!

Total: 9.3 PS. Don’t forget to check out our contest here!