Monday, June 16, 2014

E. P. Carrillo CORE Predelictos
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra
Filler: Dominican/Nicaraguan
Size: 6.1 x 52 (pyramid)
Price:  $8.20

The E.P. Carrillo CORE Encantos (robusto) was one of my favorite cigars from the Big Smoke in Las Vegas in 2012, but somehow I never got around to reviewing it on this blog.  No matter, I picked up a 10-pack (no box) of the torpedoes in July 2013 and then smoked the first one Saturday night after my son's birthday party.  Steve Laster and I sat by the pool for a few hours performing a taste test between Auchentoshan 12 and Auchentoshan American Oak single malt expressions.  Peter Hartz joined us, but he preferred Jack Daniels Fire with no cigar.

This is a beautiful cigar with a dark, smooth wrapper.  It is medium-full in body with lots of pepper.  In terms of spiciness, it reminded me of a CAO Black, but it had a more pronounced finish and aftertaste.  In terms of flavor, it brought to mind a For de A. Allones (lean, leathery), but E. P. Carillo lacked the heavy earth taste; it was more woody. 

Hands down, this was a great cigar. 

I didn't realize it until later, but this cigar was named for its maker Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, who founded La Gloria Cubana.  After he sold LGC, he went into business for himself under the E.P. Carrillo moniker.  CORE is their base (medium) cigar line.  They also have a mild version (New Wave Connecticut), a full version (Cardinal), a sun grown line (E-Stunner), and high ring gauge line (INCH, with gauges of 60 and higher). 

Update 6/20/14:  Since last Saturday night when I constructed this review, I smoked several of these in a short span of time:  Tuesday night on on the back deck with Shaun; Wednesday while reading the first half of The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins; and yet another at the drive-in watching a Jimmy Buffet concert being simulcast around the nation.  I've noticed some inconsistency in the amount of spice from cigar to cigar--usually this is medium-full body, but one cigar in particular came across as very potent and strong.  Some cigars have tooth on the wrapper, while others are very smooth.  Construction has been uniformly good. 

5 Vegas Relic

5 Vegas Relic
Tobacco: Dominican Republic puro
Size: 5.75 x 54 (perfecto)
Price:  $4.16

I picked up a 5-pack of 5 Vegas Relics in Feb 2012 along with another box purchase.  I aged them a year, then smoked them at odd times when I didn't have a lot of time (they burn fast) but wanted something very spicy.    They feature a toothy Corojo wrapper around a blend of Dominican-grown long-leaf ligeros combined (according to the website) with a single leaf of 12-year-old Dominican tobacco.  It features a medium body, but very strong in flavor.  This cigar tastes better than its stronger cousin (the Cask Strength) and is on par or perhaps even a little better than High Primings.

The perfecto shape is a little hard to get used to at first, and that's perhaps why I gravitate to the High Primings, plus these are a little more expensive, but it's worth it.

5 Vegas High Primings
Tobacco: Nicaragua/Dominican Republic
Size: Multiple
Price:  Varies

I have already finished a sampler of 5 Vegas High Priming cigars in the following sizes:

  •          Robusto (5 x 50)
  •          Box Press (5.5 x 55)
  •          Double Corona (6 x 48)
  •          Torpedo (6 x 54)
  •         Churchill (7 x 52)

This is the same blend as the medium-bodied "classic"  5 Vegas blend.  The High Priming designation refers to the fact the filler is composed of foliage higher up on the same tobacco plants, leaves exposed to more sunlight so they become thicker, darker, and stronger.  The other difference between the two cigars is a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper instead of a Sumatra leaf. 

These cigars are rolled loosely, so they burn quick but never hot.  They have a light, airy draw.  The core is still a creamy, smooth medium-to-full body, but now there is a lean, spicy pepper flavor and a nasally hot finish.  This cigar pairs better with a smooth bourbon or a smoky scotch. 

I liked them so much, I put a box of High Priming Double Coronas back for a year of aging.  Along with PdR Habano Sun Grown, this has become one of my staple brands, meaning I want to always keep one box for aging and another (already aged) in the ready-to-burn humidor.   (Part of me wants to add Omar Ortez, Flor de A. Allones, and E.P. Carillo to this category, but then I wouldn't have very much aging capacity for new brands and blends.)  

Thursday, June 05, 2014

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami
Size: 5.5 x 52
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Fillers: Nicaragua/Dominican
Price:  $10

La Gloria Cubana introduced a new extension a few years ago-- the Artesanos line.  These cigars come with very fancy boxes and a band featuring a new, more colorful version of the traditional LGC logo.   Within the Artesanos extension, there are four blends:
  • Artesanos de Miami
  • Artesanos de Obelisco
  • Artesanos de Tabaqueros
  • Artesanos Retro Especiale
De Miami is handmade by a team of 10 master rollers in Miami, FL. Shaun visited the La Gloria Cubana factory-store on calle ocho during his last cruise and brought me back a robusto.  The cigar features a "a dark and oily Habano-seed wrapper", according to one website.  (I don't remember it being all that dark, but it did have a potent prelight aroma).   Production is limited to just 250,000 cigars annually; it recently received a 92 rating and was named one of the Top 25 Cigars of the Year by Cigar Aficionado magazine.

Steve, Shaun, and I smoked these out by the pool on Memorial Day, paired with two glasses of Jameson Select Reserve (also referred to as Jameson Black Barrel).  What a phenomenal combination!  The cigar burned slow and cool, perfect construction.  In terms of its initial taste profile--rich, woody, and slightly nutty--it reminded me of a Cuesta Rey, but unlike that mild cigar, the strength of this begins to accumulate and eventually hits you deep in the belly.  The Jameson was one of the smoothest whiskies I've ever drank with more sweetness than you normally detect in an Irish whisky.

This is one of the Top 3 cigars I've smoked all year, along with a 5-year old Flor de A. Allones and a 5-year old Omar Ortez.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

5  Vegas Limitada 2011
Size: 6.2 x 52 ( Belicoso )
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder and Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras
Price: Unknown

I wanted to like this cigar--I really did.  I tried my hardest.  I really liked the 5 Vegas Limitada 2005, 2006, and 2007 varietals.  I was underwhelmed with Limitada 2008 maduro when I reviewed it in 2010, but I rescued one from the Lost Sticks Tray in 2014 that had aged into a very rich, pungent, slightly spicy smoke.  

The Limitada 2011 however just doesn't have much going for it.  It sports a dark warm brown wrapper with a lot of veins.  I smoked the 4th cigar from a 5-pack last night, paired with Auchentoshan 12-Year single malt scotch, while reading Web of the City by Harlan Ellison.  The scotch was good, the cigar bland, and the book disappointing. 

At first light, I was greeted with a slightly sweet taste--almost like toffee--with subtle but pleasant spice.  I would have wanted an Habano wrapper to provide a little more kick, to be honest, but this was promising.  Unfortunately, this quickly faded within just a few minutes and the cigar settled into a medium bodied profile highlighted by the faint taste of burnt almonds.  Not bad, but very nondescript and kind of bland.  The cigar burned  slowly and coolly for nearly two hours, but it had a tendency to go out and needed two relights. Upon each relight, the cigar seemed to gain body and strength, but it lost its nutty flavors in favor of something more generic and woodsy.  By the second half, it was hard to tell this from your average run-of-the-mill bundle cigar. 

This experience has been repeated four times now.  This is not what I expect from a Limitada.