EP Carrillo Edicion Inaugural 2009 Encore

Drew Estate

I’ve been waiting nearly half a year to do this review. Part of that wait was self-inflicted. I could have thrown together something based on the EP Carrillo Edicion Inaugural samples I picked up at the IPCPR trade show, but that just didn’t seem right. What I really wanted to do was smoke them as Mr. Perez-Carrillo intends them to be enjoyed, directly out of a local cigar shop. And also partly because I wanted to be sure I was smoking the final product. Due to tight production timelines, I wasn’t 100% sure that what they brought to the trade show was exactly what was going to be finally released to the public, and I wanted to be certain to give this cigar a fair shake.

The EP Carrillo Edicion Inaugural marks the next part of a journey for it’s maker, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, who recently broke away from the La Gloria Cubana, the brand he help make a household name, to start a new, family run cigar company. How it’s received by cigar enthusiasts will undoubtedly have a big impact on this new venture. Waiting until I could buy some from their ideal humidor environment before lighting them up for a review just seemed like the right thing to do. (And in case you’re curious, or wearing FCC-issued jackboots, I did buy the cigars I’m about to review.)

But before we get into the review, a little more about the brand. (To get the full scoop straight from the source, be sure to check out our Interview with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo at IPCPR.) The Edicion Inaugural uses what Mr. Perez-Carrillo describes as an experimental strain of Ecuadoran Habano tobacco that he was first introduced to a few years ago. At the time, he had no plans use that leaf, which was only available in very limited quantities. But reconsidered it for this special limited cigar line (and potentially in future ones). Also noteworthy is the unusual dual binder leaves, one from Nicaragua, and another from the Dominican Republic, both reportedly aged for at least five years. Around 150,000 of these cigars are being made in the Dominican Republic, and are available in 10 count boxes in what is being called the “Encore” vitola.

And now the time for waiting and fanfare is over. A trial by fire is in order.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 3/8 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano
Binder: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $13.00

The Pre-Smoke
The Edicion Inaugural is a great looking smoke, that’s nicely decorated with a colorful red, black and gold band, and a slim secondary red band giving the cigar’s name and the year. Presumably this second band is what will distinguish this limited release from the main EP Carrillo line, which is due to hit the shops in the spring of 2010.

The wrapper leaf is a consistent light brown, traced with fine veins, and looks, in person, much like cigars often look like in glossy catalogs. Closer inspection revealed that a couple of the cigars had some fine cracks, and one had a few greenish splotches, much like you see occasionally on Cuban cigars.

The cigars were uniformly firm with absolutely no give and wrapper leaf gave off a sweet raisiny compost aroma. In the cold taste I noted more of this sweet raisin flavor.

The Burn
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever smoked a La Gloria Cubana that the highlight of the burn was that long, white, solid ash. It doesn’t hurt to have double the binder in there for support. I predict that somewhere, sometime soon, this cigar will win a long ash competition. (Or maybe place a close second to one of Mr. Perez-Carrillo’s previous creations.)

Unfortunately the burn wasn’t all bubble gum and balloons. The Edicion Inaugural had a tendency toward a uneven burn, which generally required only the occasional touch up and perhaps a one relight. And the draw, while acceptable, tended to be a tad tighter that I prefer. More seriously, one cigar had a split in the wrapper near the head that resulted in unraveling once the band was removed. (Ironically, while suffering the most severe construction flaw of all the cigars reviewed, it also produced the longest ash. And in fact never ashed a second time.)

The Flavor
The Edicion Inaugural begins with a brief phase of spiciness that functions pretty nicely as an attention grabber. The flavor in this early stage is a like buttery graham cracker but before you can get used to it, the spiciness mellows significantly, and the flavor begins to sweeten into subtle butterscotch and raisins. And that’s just a hint at what you’re in for. This cigar’s flavor profile seemed to be in constant state of subtle fluctuation. By the end of the first third, my list of nuances included grass, earth, caramel, syrup, butterscotch, yam, graham, coffee and raisin, mixed in different ways (often three or four at a time), all painted over a generally creamy and occasionally spicy base.

Caramel and rich butter played a more significant role in the second third, pepper made a few momentary appearances and many of the flavors noted previously were back again, in similarly complex ways.

The final third was a continuation of what went before, with the addition of some coconut to the predominantly creamy flavor combinations.

The Price
The price is outside of my normal comfort zone for cigars, and as much as I’d like to see it a few dollars cheaper, I don’t feel shortchanged either. Considering it’s a special, limited release and the aging that went into all the various components of the cigar (some for five years) it makes sense.

The Verdict
In the interview I mentioned earlier, Mr. Perez-Carrillo said what he was looking for in this cigar was creaminess and complexity. And he absolutely nailed both. His Edicion Inaugural is full of rich, creamy and complex flavor combinations that are challenging to put into words. This is another cigar that doesn’t take you for a journey in thirds, but constant subtle variations from one puff to the next make a very acceptable substitute to figurative travel.

I jumped the gun a little and bought a box after smoking one stick. But no buyer’s remorse here, the Edicion Inaugural is certainly box-worthy. I nubbed this cigar every time I smoked it, even the one time I had to smoke through a significant wrapper issue in the final third. Without giving too much away, it’s definitely in the running for my yet-to-be-compiled annual list of the top ten cigars of the year. I definitely recommend trying one if you have the opportunity. (And if you haven’t seen them around yet, have no fear, they will be released in small quantities until around March of 2010.)

Liked It: Yes, Very Much
Buy It Again: It’s Box-worthy
Recommend It: Absolutely

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.




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