EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural
I’ve been a fan of EP Carrillo for quite some time. His New Wave Connecticut series was fantastic. He’s also responsible for delivering incredible blends for the Four Kicks and the Headley Grange. When I heard there was a new release from EPC on the market I went searching for it immediately. I asked around to all my local shops to see when they were getting it in. Finally, I dropped in one day and there they were. Sitting on the end cap in all their glory. I picked up the Natural and the Maduro. I wanted to smoke them very close together and see what the differences were. Let’s get into the review I know you’re all very eager!
I love the classic look of this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural. It has his classic branding on the band. The swirling gold EP, and just below the bold font face spelling Carrillo. The packaging isn’t flashy nor does it stand out much. However, if you’re a fan of EPC you know exactly what to look for in the humidor!
The wrapper on this cigar is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a nice reddish brown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. The veins are very minimal and the seams are almost undetectable. Near flawless construction on this cigar which I’ve come to expect from EPC. The foot of the cigar is packed full of tobacco and the head is covered with a beautiful triple cap. I’m really excited to try this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural, just looking at it my mouth is salivating with anticipation.
I made sure to do an in-store pinch test of this cigar. Rolling it through my fingers I always try to get the best feeling cigar possible. I try not to touch them all, but sometimes it’s hard. I know some people think it’s bad etiquette to touch cigars in a humidor, but honestly, I’m not sure why. I don’t want to get into that here. This EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural has an incredible feel to it. Nice and firm with a tiny bit of sponginess to it.
It’s time to nip the cap and test the dry draw! I want to get all this pre-game stuff out of the way so I can enjoy smoking it already! The dry draw is exactly what I expected it would be, flawless. It has just enough resistance to where you don’t choke yourself with an abundance of smoke, yet it is open enough to where you can experience the flavors it has to offer before you even light it up.
Ahhh, this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural takes right to the flame and begins smoking effortlessly. Right out of the gate the burn line is perfect and holding a nice tight ash. I didn’t even toast the foot on this cigar. I just held the lighter to the foot and began puffing and boom the burn took off. Can’t ask for much more than that can you?
The first third produces some incredible creamy smoke. A nice burn and the ash held the entire first third. I was quite impressed. I tried to snag a picture of it, but of course it fell off onto my shirt while I was transitioning. I’ve gotta get better at that. Oh well I got a decent one before it fell it off anyway.
The second third burned just as well as the first. Not a single problem nor did I have to touch it up. Just an incredible draw to this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural. I wish every cigar smoked like this one. I would never have to write a bad review. The second third continued into the final third smoking like a champion. Great burn line, incredible smoke, and just effortless and pleasureful all the way down to the nub.
So everything else about this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural was a hit, hopefully the flavor doesn’t let you down right? Oh boy I can tell you right now the cigar is the real deal! I think I may have set the bar too high for 2013 smoking this one right out of the gate! There’s a reason I gave this cigar a 10 out of 10. The flavor was just incredible and complex!
Pre light, I was able to get a wonderful rich and sweet smell of tobacco from the foot. I picked up a nice bit of brown sugar and molasses. Mmm, it smelled fantastic!
The first third brought in the spice on the lips and on the retrohale. It nearly brought me to tears on the first retrohale. What followed was very peculiar meaty / savory flavor that made my mouth water for more. Towards the end of the first third I picked up more woodsy and vegetal notes and the pepper had calmed down a lot. Which I’m happy to say, because I don’t know if I could have handled that much pepper the rest of the way.
The second third of this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural became even more complex. I began picking up some very earthy coffee notes which is very indicative of Nicaraguan tobacco. The spice is still there, at about the same amount of intensity as the end of the first third. By the end of the second third the spice began picking up again but was followed by some bitter chocolate tastes. This cigar is incredibly complex and hitting all over the flavor wheel. It’s quite an exciting ride to say the least!
The final third finished this cigar out with a bang. The spice had picked back up, but it was delivered with a nice creamy and smooth approach. The intensity was there, but it delivered with such grace that it’s hard not to enjoy it!
Would I Buy It Again?
No question. I would buy it over and over again.
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
Absolutely. Especially in this robusto size. Easily a daily smoke.
Would I Buy a Box?
I hope I can go to the store today and buy one. They are that good!
The first 10 out of 10 for 2013 comes on the 2nd day of the year. It’s hard to believe but this EP Carrillo Cardinal Natural is just that damn good! I knew I liked EPC’s cigars, but wow this was an incredible smoke. Talk about starting the year off on the right foot.