August 1, 2011

REVIEW: E.P. CARRILLO Core Line Maduro

A few weeks ago I came home to a nice little package waiting for me at my front door. E.P.C. has been kind enough to include me on some early samples of their last few releases and this was the surprise waiting for me. Included in the package were a few things, but most exciting to me was the new E.P.C. Core Line Maduro. The Core Line Maduro is obviously based off the Core Line from E.P.C,. but with some slight differences.

I spoke to Ernesto on the phone and this is what he had to say about the E.P.C. Core Line Maduro:
"We went with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper for the core line. I have been blending with broadleaf since 1972 so I am very comfortable with the tobacco.  I tried the blend with many other maduros, and I probably will use some of those maduros on different projects, but for this one that distinguishable broadleaf flavor was the right fit. The only other change in this cigar from the Core Line is we changed the binder leaf. We found that a Sumatra binder just worked better."

Thank you Ernesto for taking the time to talk to me both on the phone and at the IPCPR show. These are some great looking cigars so on to the review.

Vitola: Encantos
Length: 4 7/8
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan
Price: $?
Smoking Location: House of Cigar
Beverage: none

"Classic Maduro look" was the first thing that came to mind when examining my EPC Core line Maduro. The wrapper was a very dark brown, with shades of lighter brown mixed in here and there. It was definitely dark in color, but not the unnaturally dark color we have seen on some other "maduro" cigars recently. The leaf did have some medium sized veins and when held up to a light showed a lot of oils. The pre-lit aroma was very earthy and leathery. The cold draw had an interesting hazelnut taste. It threw me for a bit of a loop because I didn't get any of that from the aroma of the stick. From squeezing the cigar you can tell it was expertly constructed and evenly packed.

First Third   
My EPC Core Line Maduro lit up letting clouds of smoke into the air. No, really. This thing put off more smoke than a raging bonfire. I barely had to draw on this stick to get a full, flavorful mouthful of smoke. Talking of flavor, this cigar started off with a lot of dark roasted coffee notes on the front mixing nicely with a mild pepper spice on the finish. Not a strong peppery bite, just a subtle flavor that awakened the taste buds. Another interesting note was the sweetness the wrapper left on my lips. I know this cigar is not tipped with sugar or anything like that, but it had a nice sweetness that reminded me of that. The strength was in the medium range and the burn performed beautifully.

Second Third  
The second third of my EPC Core Line Maduro brought on some pretty significant flavor changes. The roasted coffee flavors from the first third had dissipated and were replaced by a dark bitter chocolate taste. What was perfect about this flavor was, because it did have a bit of a bitterness to it, it was expertly balanced out by the finish that had now changed from that pepper note to a sweet, sugary flavor. I told you things had changed right? The stick still produced a lot of smoke and easily filled the part of the room I was sitting in at the shop. The strength was consistently medium like the first third.

Final Third and Final Thoughts 
Rounding out the final third or my EPC Core Line Maduro, things were going just fine. The flavors were pretty much the same as the second third with dark chocolate on the front and sugary sweetness on the finish. I did taste something that was particularly unusual, so I thought I'd mention it even if it sounds a little crazy: on a small section of the final third, I tasted port wine. I don't drink port wine, but that was definitely the flavor I tasted. Who knows, right? One other note of difference in the final third was just how slow the cigar burned. The first two thirds burned at a rate of a normal cigar, but the final third of the EPC Core Line Maduro really slowed down. Again, the strength never moved above the medium range and I never had any issues with the construction.

My final thoughts on the E.P. Carrillo Core Line Maduro? This is what a true maduro cigar should taste like. I loved the coffee flavors at the start and the transition into the chocolate and sweetness in the second and final thirds of the stick were a true balance of flavors. E.P. Carrillo and team keep putting out great products and this is another one to add to the list. I can't wait for the 2011 special edition and what ever else they might be working on for the future.

Would I buy it again? I will be keeping a stock of these around. I actually have smoked the other sizes of this stick and I really enjoy the smallest size it comes in. That's the one I will be buying the most of.

Would I buy a box? I don't know what the price is going to be for a box, but if it's in the same range as the other Core Line products, I could see myself getting one.



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