EP Carrillo Cabinet
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
E.P. Carrillo cigars are certainly no strangers to Casas Fumando, as well as the general cigar smoking public. In fact, the review page here lists nine reviews of their cigars, not to mention those made for other companies, such as Crowned Heads. Having been a long time fan of the vast majority of the cigars that Ernesto and family have created over the years, I jumped at the chance to try out something that was, for me, something new.
At the 2014 European Inter-tabac trade show, it was announced that E.P. Carrillo would release two new lines called New Wave Reserva and Cabinet exclusively to the European market, but both lines have since been made available to the U.S. The Cabinet, which uses the same wrapper as the large format INCH C-99, was first released in four sizes: Robusto 5 x50, Supremos Extra 5 7/8 x 56, Toro 6 x52, and Wide Toro 6 x 60. Last year, EPC expanded the line to include three more sizes: Petit Corona 4 ½ x 46, Double Corona 6 7/8 x 49, and Gran Duque 7 ¼ x 54. The prices for the Cabinets run from $5.25 to $8.30.
I picked up a few of the robustos from our friends over at Cuenca Cigars.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo 99
Binder: Dominican Republic
Size: Robusto 5 x50
Smoking time: One hour, twenty minutes
Pairing: Pike Brewing Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale (ABV 6.5%)
The E.P. Carrillo Cabinet presents itself quite well, draped in a deep reddish brown wrapper with some darker spots. The leaf has a couple of small to medium sized veins and has a smooth but rather dry appearance, with tights seams and a triple cap. The roll is very firm to the point of being hard and there are no soft spots. The band sports the EP Carrillo logo against a background of dark brown and light yellow and looks quite nice against the color of the wrapper. The wrapper gives up a tangy barnyard aroma, while the foot has a cedary tobacco scent. The cold draw is very snug and doesn’t show much beyond faint sweet woody tobacco.
Despite the rather tight draw, the EPC Cabinet produces an adequate amount of earthy, woody smoke. There is a slight sweetness on the tip of the tongue and a moderate amount of pepper in the retrohale. The pepper quickly dissipates, leaving a very smooth cedar with light coffee and earth. The burn line is somewhat thick, but even. Of course, as soon as I’ve written that, it has decided to go off on one side. The pepper has made a re-appearance and a savory charred meat pops in then fades back. At the one inch point, the draw has opened up some, and so have the flavors, with things now at a solid medium. I’m really enjoying the sweet wood aroma of the resting smoke that this cigar is producing.
Needing a second correction going into the second third of the Cabinet, the flavors have turned earthier and darker, and the char has turned from meat to wood. The sweetness has departed entirely, resulting in a flat flavor profile, while the burn continues to go crooked on me. The char eventually falls back, but there are no new flavors evident.
Into the last section of the E.P. Carrillo Cabinet, the cigar is finally starting to settle into a better groove, having gained back a good deal of its smooth beginning, while the char has evolved into more of a smoky umami note. Pepper has come back in both pungency and sensation on the tongue, but is not noticeable on the retrohale. Woodiness continues to be the main factor in the flavors. I’m not detecting any other changes, however, so with a little over an inch remaining, I’ve decided to put it to rest. Can a cigar be simultaneously smooth yet harsh? That’s the way seemed to me. The smoke itself at this point is smooth in the mouth, but the aftermath is somewhat acrid and not very pleasant. Surprisingly, with all of the burn issues and corrections, the nub is cool and firm, finishing with a medium body and low strength.
Man, I love E.P. Carrillo, and have rarely had anything by the man that I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy, but this cigar was not something that I would put on a list of recommendations. I smoked three of them, and each one was a different experience. The first one, with only a week in my humidor, was a bit thin in flavor and consistent all the way through, rendering it pretty monotonous. The second one, with an extra month of resting time, was thoroughly enjoyable, with sweet woodiness joined by toasty bread, mineral notes and fleeting hints of mocha. Both drew and burned great. This one was, quite frankly, a dud. If all three had turned out like the second one, I would be all over this cigar, but unfortunately, that was not the case. I may pick up a couple more to see if these were just part of a bad batch, but I won’t be going out of my way to do so.
Scotch ales seem to be a great partner for medium bodied cigars, so I decided to go with the Kilt Lifter from Seattle’s Pike Brewing. A red Scotch ale with a smooth but light mouthfeel, light sweetness and a bit of tartness, it brought out what little sweetness the Cabinet had to offer. Hey, it did its best and actually helped to make things a little more tolerable.