Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Cardinal 52 Natural

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Cardinal 52 Natural

E.P. Carrillo Cardinal 52

Size:   Robusto (5″ x 52)

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder:  Nicaragua

Filler:  Nicaragua

Strength: Medium-Full

Price:  (Pre-Release Sample) $7.25 MSRP

Recently, I reviewed the EP Carillo Cardinal Maduro (here!)  and like most of Ernesto’s Cigars I really enjoyed the blend.  Today we review the sister blend, the Cardinal, which features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.  This review was of the 52, which is the Robusto in this series.  These should be landing in your local neighborhood cigar shop any day now.

As I stated in my review of the Cardinal Maduro 54, I received these cigar at a recent EPC cigar tasting featuring the INCH 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: 9.2

Pre-Light:  (1.8)   The Cardinal features a very attractive Ecuadorian grown Sumatra seed wrapper.  There is a lot of mottling, a number of veins, and a good bit of texture,  The wrapper is bumpy in appearance but silky smooth to the touch.  There is, of course, a triple cap.  The Cardinal 52 is well packed and firm to the touch.

The scent off the foot, as is so often the case with Ernie’s cigars, is fantastic.   There is a sweet graham cookie aroma that is tangy and rich. The pre light draw mirrors the scent off the foot.  Classic pre-light experience from “the Godfather” of boutique cigars.

Burn:  (1.9) The draw on the Cardinal was excellent, with just a slight resistance.  The zebra patterned ash held beyond the one inch mark.  Burn line is crisp, albeit a little uneven at times.  The smoke is plentiful.  The nub burns cool to the touch.

Flavor:  (2.7)  At first light there is a warm smooth pepper and cinnamon spice combination.  As the Cardinal gets into its full burn the spice steps back a little and there is a flavor reminiscent of dried, yet tangy, fruit and a real sweetness to the flavor profile.  As the first third progresses there is a real interplay between the various tastes and s[ices as the savory smoke coats my palate.  The smoke is chewy and full of flavor and that dry fruit flavor rests on the finish.

In the second third the spice continues to move into more of a background cinnamon note.  The rich smoke brings varied flavors of oak, cedar, leather, and dried fruit.  There is a nice complexity as the notes vary and change up between puffs.

In the last third the spice recedes even further.  The dry fruit note transitions into a much richer red wine characteristic the interlaces and ties together the cedar and oak profile of the smoke.  The Cardinal burns cool to the nub.  Throughout the cigar experience the smoke is full of body and flavor, strength is somewhere on the lower range of full.

Overall:  (2.8)  The Cardinal (and Cardinal Maduro) represent a significant departure for the Ernesto Perez-Carillo.  Typically EPC cigars feature a complex blend of tobaccos from multiple countries and while typically being full of flavor, they tend to be medium in strength and body.  The Cardinal departs from this trend and features all Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos and attempted to be a full bodied addition to the portfolio.  E.P. Carillo succeeds in not only adding a full bodied cigar to his portfolio, but also builds on his legacy of blending rich tasting cigars with the signature E.P. Carillo flavor.

Total: 9.2

PS.  Stay tuned, I will be announcing another contest shortly!


The sample smoked for this review was given to me by Ernesto Jr at a B&M tasting event.  It was not submitted for the purpose of review.  I appreciate Ernesto Jr’s generosity, but it had no influence on the review.