EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro
Do you ever have those moments when you’re standing staring at something trying to make the decision between two options? For me it happens almost every Tuesday night when I go down to Sweet CeCe’s to get ice cream. It’s two punch Tuesday which means you get double punches on your rewards card and every time you get 10 punches you get a free cup of fro-yo! Who doesn’t love that?
Well that’s how I felt standing there trying to decide between the EP Carrillo Cardinal series. Do I want the Natural, or the Maduro? I’ve always been a big fan of EP Carrillo cigars as I stated in the previous review of the Cardinal Natural. I’m also a huge fan of maduro cigars. I couldn’t decide, so I did the obvious thing and bought them both. I wanted to line these two up next to each other and see which one I liked better. Natural or Maduro? Which would you decide?
The EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro looks almost identical to the Natural except for the glaring difference in the color of the wrapper. The exact same band, same size everything. Just a much darker wrapper. One thing I did notice about this cigar was a few of the small blotches on the wrapper that showed some lighter spots. They almost looked like holes in the wrapper. Very interesting, it’s hard to believe this cigar would have slipped through quality control with holes. Oh well I’m not too worried about it.
This cigar has a very nice firm feel to it. Not much sponginess to the filler. In fact it makes me question whether this cigar is filled with tobacco or is it a trick and filled with concrete? I guess I won’t know until I try to nip the cap and see what’s under the hood… I guess I could just look at the foot of the cigar and see all the tobacco too, that seems to make more sense doesn’t it?
Whew, no concrete in this cigar, Thank Goodness! Ok, so the filler isn’t THAT stiff, but firmer than usual. The dry draw on this EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro is very nice. A slight resistance but I know it’s going to open up just like all of Ernie’s cigars do. One of the reasons his cigars always smoke well is because he uses the traditional Cuban style of rolling know as Entubado Bunching. This allows great airflow and better drawing experience every cigar that comes out of his La Alianza factory is rolled this way, yes that includes the Four Kicks, Headley Grange and all of his cigars. Enough about the dry draw how about we get some smoke rolling through this thing!
I go back and forth between toasting the foot of the cigar and not. Sometimes I just like to draw the flame in and see if the cigar can burn evenly without a toasted foot. Then sometimes I just like to watch the foot get lit up. Today I toasted the foot. No particular reason, just like to change things up. Variety is the spice of life after all right???
Right from the beginning this EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro is full of nice thick white smoke. A great draw and tons of smoke rolling through the barrel. When I sit it down in the ashtray the wrapper has a great line of smoke coming off it. A nice slow even burn. The construction on this cigar is flawless.
The second third continues the exact same way. The burn line isn’t laser straight, but I never had to correct it. The held on most of the first third. I finally knocked it off around the inch mark. I was afraid of it falling in my lap, which happens way too frequently.
The final third of the EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro didn’t smoke as well as the first two thirds. From all the EPC’s I’ve smoked I’ve never had to touch them up or relight them. I had to relight this cigar once in the final third. It just went out all of a sudden I was kind of shocked to be honest. Usually they burn perfectly each and every time. Oh well, it’s just one time I’m not too worried about it.
So what were the big flavor differences between the Natural and this Maduro? Well keep reading and I’ll tell you!
The initial draw on the EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro brought out some nice spice. Then it mellowed out within the next couple of puffs. More of a sweetness began to show it’s head. That’s more of what I expected from this maduro wrapper. The retrohale on the first third brought out some really exciting flavors. Coffee and Chocolate, mmm it felt like I was drinking a nice warm mocha latte. The coffee flavor was a very dark roast that hit my palate at the very end, while the chocolate hit the front end. Very exciting flavors.
The second third was a little different story. The spice picked up quite a bit on the tongue and it drowned out some of the chocolate and coffee on the retrohale. Even though it muted those notes some, I was able to pick up something else. It was a bit of a nutty taste. Which was an interesting combination.
The final third everything went back to the flavors from the first third. The spice dissipated and the coffee and chocolate were back. It was a great way to end the cigar. I wasn’t able to pull out too many other notes, but I didn’t want to. I was really enjoying the coffee and chocolate flavors this was giving off. In fact it really makes me want a mocha latte as I’m writing this. So I think I’ll have to hit up Dunkin Donuts sometime today to pick one up. Mmmmm.
Would I Buy It Again?
Absolutely, I love all of Ernie’s cigars this one has some awesome flavors that I’m sure have more complexities than I was able to pull out and I would love to taste it again.
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
At this size and price point, absolutely.
Would I Buy a Box?
I think it might be a worthy investment.
Overall this EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro is a fantastic smoke. I think I liked the Natural more though. Which is surprising because I usually prefer Maduro wrappers. There was something about that Natural that really hit my sweet spot I guess. This maduro was still a great stick and I only took 1 point off for the burn issue in the final third. Other than it’s a great full-bodied smoke. Make sure you’re ready for it when you sit down to light it up!