Gary reviews 10 “Top Shelf” Maduro cigars: If you love the natural sweetness and savory aroma of Maduro wrapper, these dark discoveries are sure to please cigar smokers at every level of experience.
EPC Cigar Review: EP Carrillo Cardinal 54 Maduro
EP Carrillo Cigar Review: EPC Cardinal 54 Maduro
Draw: Just right. Cigar had a chewy mouthfeel.
Pre-light flavor: Very leathery with a note of pepper.
Cut, Toast & Light: Cap popped off cleanly in a perfect circle. Toasted well, but you could see by the black areas on the foot, this cigar had a lot of ligero. It took several tries to get it all burning without killing it. First puff was somewhat spicy and woody. No leather notes at all.
Base flavors: Dark wood, sweet tobacco and spice.
Retrohale: WOW! Very peppery with a hint of wood at the start. Once it got past the first inch, the spice was gone, revealing a much creamier retrohale without the sting. I retrohaled this cigar a number of times during the smoke and the latter description held-up until the last couple of inches when it turned spicy again, but nothing like that first wallop.
Aroma: Very appealing. Somewhat sweet and herbal with a redolent woody character.
Burn / Ash Quality: Super clean with a firm, almost solid grey, scalloped ash. The ash would usually only hang-on for about a half an inch, but it wasn’t weak or flaky. All-in-all, the burn was excellent.
Balance of flavors: Perfect. No surprises.
Consistency: Excellent. Hardly wavered at all from it’s base flavors. Every puff, the first couple of spicy puffs excluded, was as smooth and flavorful as the one that preceded it.
General Observations: Started out with a spicy shot. After the first ash fell off, at about 1/2 inch, the flavors mellowed somewhat to a more medium-bodied smoke and the flavors came flooding in. Notes of wood, some sweet tobacco, a hint of cocoa, all caramelized beautifully. Ultra smooth, which makes this heady cigar that much more stealthy.
Summary: The literature I consulted before writing this EPC cigar review says “it’s the richest, most full-bodied cigar in the E.P. Carrillo portfolio.” Having smoked it – I would tend to agree, but I found it no stronger, say, than the E.P. Carrillo Dark Rituals, one of my EPC favorites. Among the things that won me over was the subtle sweetness built into this cigar. It made a nice contrast to the cigar’s spicier qualities. This cigar hit on all cylinders, and I enjoyed it immensely. I was also glad I paired it with spring water, which allowed me to pick up all its tasty nuances. You may notice that the EPC bands all look pretty much alike. However, the Cardnial is distinguished by a thick red swash at the bottom of the band. If you’re a full-bodied hound, this cigar is right up your alley. I can’t wait to try the Ecuadorian Sumatra.