E.P. Carrillo Cardinal 52 Natural Prerelease
At the IPCPR this year, Ernesto Perez Carrillo revealed his new forthcoming series, the Cardinal Series. It is to be released in two wrapper styles: Connecticut broadleaf maduro which has an Ecuadorian Sumatran binder and the Natural. The natural has an Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper leaf and a Nicaraguan binder. Each cigar comes in three sizes the 52 (5 x 52), 54 (6 x 54), and the 56 (5 1/2 x 56). All of the Cardinal series feature Nicaraguan filler. The packaging is distinguishable by its red accents and design and definitely stands out amongst the current EPC lineup.
With such a Nicaraguan centric blend, a natural question might be about the strength and flavor of this cigar. Ernesto, a maker traditionally of Dominican blends and styles has really been embracing different geographic tobaccos in his EPC projects of late. The results are quite interesting and the Cardinal series has all the potential to be one of his best releases to date. Recently when an EPC rep was visiting the Phoenix area he handed out samples of the Cardinal series to select retailers. Paul, being a retailer, was able to secure two samples of each Cardinal blend for Cigar Brief. Today we are going to take a look at the Natural.
The wrapper of the natural cardinal is of a rich brown hue with golden accents and a toothy texture. There are not a whole lot of visible oils, but there is a slight sheen to the cigar. Looking at and inspecting the cigar reveals a firm pack and clipping the cap reveals a smooth draw with only a slight amount of resistance. The wrapper doesn’t yield too much in the way of an aroma, but the foot definitely has a solid barnyard profile.
Right off the bat there is an initial spice burst followed by a nice sweetness that develops. As the cigar opens up more the sweetness develops into notes of cedar and sweet raisin. Every once in a while bursts 0f spice come back through, but for the most part this cigar is all about the flavor. And to be honest, I think that is where the strength and interesting part about this EPC natural cardinal lies. The E.P. Carrillo is wonderfully smooth and deceptively powerful. The flavor and smoothness give no warning to the power that lies beneath and it isn’t that far into the midpoint that you realize just how full this cigar is.
Paul, one of our weekly contributors, has been around the industry for almost three decades. He’s been through the boom and a lot of the high and low points of the cigar industry over the years. One of the memories he has though is his recollection of what the original Ernesto Perez Carrillo La Gloria Cubana tasted like, before the General takeover. His comment about the Cardinal cigar is that it reminds him of the Golden Days of La Gloria when the cigar was smooth, balanced, full of flavor and yet deceptively strong. In his mind, he believes the natural Cardinal line to be Ernesto’s best work yet under the E.P.C. banner, and at this point I would have to agree. If you are a fan of full flavor and bold strength, then the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural is a great cigar to try! Expect to find these delectable treats in a humidor near you by mid to late October.