April 17, 2011

REVIEW: E.P.Carrillo New Wave Connecticut

Everyone else is doing it, so I thought I'd join the party. The cigar I smoked for today's review has been featured throughout the cigar blogosphere a lot this past month. Most of us (I am assuming) got the same 4-pack sampler (2 of this stick, 2 of the EP Carrillo Elencos) from Ernie Carrillo and quickly unwrapped them with excitement. At first glance, I was more interested in the Elencos included in the pack, but after hearing all the praise on Twitter about the Conny, I thought I'd take this stick to task first.

The EP Carrillo Short Run was in my Top Three new cigars of last year. Let's see if I think the (albeit just a few days) of hype surrounding this stick is warranted.

On to the review...

Vitola: Brillantes (robusto)
Length: 5
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican
Price: $5.25
Smoking Location: House of Cigar
Beverage: water


My sample of the E.P.C. New Wave Connecticut had a very light wrapper (expected with all Connecticuts) with medium-sized veins. To the touch, the wrapper felt very dry, but not brittle by any means. Squeezing the stick I could tell it was nicely packed and had a bit of a bounce back from the pressure applied. The pre-lit aroma was very strong and smelled of sweetness and hazelnuts. The cap clipped easily and the cold draw also had a strong flavor of hazelnut, mixed with some notes of raisin.

First Third
When I first lit my E.P.C. Conny, I immediately got a tingly zingy feeling on the top of my tongue. What shocked me was this was a very similar feeling that I experience when smoking Cuban cigars. Interesting to say the least. The flavor profile was nice also, consisting of a sweet mild spice mixed with nutty flavors on the front and finished off with a raw honey taste that lasted well over a minute between draws. The flavors were strong, which I don't normally think of when it comes to Connecticut wrapper cigars. The draw/burn was perfect and the body was in the mild to lower-medium range.

Second Third 

The second third of my E.P.C. Conny was similar in flavor to the first third at the start, but changed right at about the halfway point of the stick. I still got a lot of hazelnut and sweet spice on the front, but the finish flavors became very woody and thick -- not a cedar flavor, but more a flavor of cut raw wood. Think of walking down the lumber section at a hardware store; that smell was similar to this taste. I found it to be enjoyable, even if it doesn't sound as good as the raw honey from the first third. It added a nice bit of complexity to the smoke, which is always a plus. The draw and burn were still excellent and the smoke volume seemed to pick up when I got past the halfway point. The body did not change; it stayed right in the mild to lower medium range.

Final Third and Final Thoughts
Not much new to report on in the final third of my E.P.C. Conny. The flavors kept coming with the sweet spice, hazelnuts, and wood tastes. The one thing that might have changed a little was the smoke volume. As I got closer to the nub of the cigar, the stick was really drawing huge clouds of smoke. This is a stick that you are going to want to smoke outside or in a well-ventilated room. The body stayed consistently mild and made for a really easy cigar to smoke -- one that is full of flavors and not lacking in entertainment.

My final thoughts on the E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut? This cigar really shows what a Connecticut wrapper cigar can be with a solid blend filling it. I admit, I don't smoke a lot of Connecticuts because I tend to like a spicier cigar, but this one is a winner in my book. EPC keeps putting out quality cigars and this is another one to add to the list.

Would I buy it again? I will definitely be picking up more of these.

Would I buy a box? These are a great price and I would buy a box to share with my friends who like lighter cigars.


April 10, 2011

REVIEW: Padrón 1964 Smoke Inn 15th Anniversary Maduro

The cigar I smoked today was one that I had been looking forward to ever since it arrived on my doorstep last week. The Padron 1964 Smoke Inn 15th Anniversary (SI-15 for short) Maduro is the largest size cigar that Padron has ever made in the Anniversary size (and how can that be a bad thing?) In the last few months I've been lucky enough to be given quite a few Padron Anniversary cigars and, I have to say, it's really brought me back to loving this brand. I visited the Padron factory and tobacco fields in Nicaragua this past January with my partners from Cigar Explorer and it gave me even more of an appreciation for what goes into making these high class cigars.

The SI-15 is an exclusive cigar to Smoke Inn in Florida, as one of the four special-release cigars celebrating their 15 years in business. Some details on the stick from the Smoke Inn Website: This monster stick bellows smoke like a chimney. The sheer amount of tobacco used in this cigar creates a bold experience differing from the other vitolas in this line. All tobacco used in this limited production series is aged for four years, creating a smooth and complex flavor

Big thanks goes out to Abe (owner of Smoke Inn) for sending me this sample. This cigar is a big guy, so let's get this party started. On to the review...

Vitola: Double Toro
Length: 6
Ring Gauge: 60
Wrapper: Niaraguan Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $18.50
Smoking Location: House of cigar
Beverage: water
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.padron.com/


HUGE cigar! There is no doubt in my mind that the first thing everyone will say when they pick up this stick is something about its size. It feels so large in hand that it actually made me feel like that fast food commercial where the actor is holding a big burger and the special effects have made him have tiny hands (If you haven't seen it, sorry.) The cigar is nicely packed, but not stiff, and has a bit of a give when squeezed. The wrapper, although it had some decent sized veins, is extremely smooth to the touch and stunning to look at. The pre-lit aroma is strong smelling of sweet cedar and aged tobacco. Since the ring gauge of the cigar is so large, I went with a V-cut to not open up the head too much. The cold draw was perfect and had a lot of flavor. I tasted some sweetness, some woody flavors, and an almost chewy espresso note. I spent some extra time tasting the cold draw of this cigar just because it is one of the more interesting cold draws I've ever had.  

First Third
Right out of the gate the press release on Smoke Inn's website was spot on. This cigar from first touch of flame bellowed smoke like a chimney. Not only was the volume of smoke big, but (not surprisingly) the flavors were bigger. The first few puffs of my SI-15 had a strong warm spice on the front of the profile, mixed with a rich, thick cocoa flavor on the finish. Imagine a cup of dark hot chocolate with cinnamon sprinkled around the rim and that's pretty close to the start of this cigar. The ash was a little flaky, but held strong and was a brilliant white color. About an inch into the "monster" of a cigar, the flavors started to change up a bit. The warm spice backed off a little and I started to taste hints of espresso on the tip of my tongue. This is a flavor I commonly associate with with Padron Anniversary cigars, so I was expecting it to show up even just a little. The body was right in the middle between medium and full.    

Second Third
In the second third of my SI-15, the flavors changed up yet again. The warm spice from the first third had all but disappeared from the front of the flavor profile. What replaced it, and replaced it strongly, was a leather flavor that really threw me for a loop. I didn't expect this after the first third (which took easily a 1/2 hour to smoke) but it was a great change of pace to the experience. The finish was still very similar and tasted of dark chocolate. Another change during this portion of the cigar was the mouth feel of the smoke. I didn't notice in the first third anything special or different feeling in the smoke than what you get in most other high end cigars, but during this section of the stick, the smoke felt very creamy and almost silky. For me it added a bit of smoothness to the exhale that made for a high class smoke. The body was rising a bit at this point and leaning even more into the full range.  

Final Third and Final Thoughts
The final third and especially getting down to the nub of the (LARGE) cigar is when both the first third and the second blended together to bang out huge flavors. I started again to get the warm spice from the beginning, but still just as strong was the leather notes from the second third. The finish was steady as a rock though, keeping up with the nice dark chocolate taste. The draw was still as perfect as the first cold draw I took and the smoke volume never let up. Something that everyone writes during Padron reviews is how unbelievably great the consistency of the construction is. The SI-15 doesn't deviate from that at all. This stick burned straight, never needed any touch ups, and never got hot. I was seriously disappointed when I could no longer hold on to the cigar for fear of blistering my fingers.

My final thoughts on the Padrón 1964 Smoke Inn 15th Anniversary Maduro? 6 x 60? Are you kidding me? No way. Oh wait. It's a Padron 1964 Anny? Give me as many as you have. Not many brands and or blends can hold up in this size and still be really enjoyable for me. The SI-15 is certainly one that can.  The decent complexity,  the power, and just overall smoking experience of this cigar was amazing. Once I thought I had the cigar figured out, it would throw another flavor bomb on my palate and send me reeling. I had to be careful toward the end of this stick, as I kept smoking it faster and faster to get those amazing flavors, but in doing so gave my head a bit of a spin.  If you like what you read above and want to try it yourself, work quickly. This is a limited release for Smoke Inn and I'm sure they'll go fast.   
Would I buy it again? I would buy this cigar again in a heart beat. Like any Padron Anniversary stick, they are not on the inexpensive side, but in my opinion, this one is really worth the cash.

Would I buy a box?  I wish! These are way out of my price range for box purchases, but if money is no object for you, I would snatch up a box ASAP.