Bite Size Review: Epic Habano
We’ve been focusing on a lot of up-and-coming boutique cigar makers lately and sadly, there’s been few surprises. There’s nothing we like more than being blown away by a new blend from either a rookie’s inaugural offering or a new line in an otherwise mediocre line-up. We’d been eyeballing a couple of blends with a focus on a solid habano vibe. The Epic Habano checked the boxes nicely. Released in the summer of 2014, the Habano is the third blend in a 7-line portfolio from a company that began life just a year earlier in 2013.
Epic was launched by Dean Parsons, a Canadian ex-pat and real estate broker dividing his time between the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands. Inspired by Dominican cigar factory tours by the likes of Fuente and Davidoff, Parsons ultimately paired up with long-time Kristoff blender, Rolando Villamil who also runs the Dominican Charles Fairmorn factory where Epic Cigars (as well as most Kristoffs) are made. Five years later, Epic features a rich line of cigars including the El Rubio Connecticut, Corojo and their most popular, the Maduro cloaked in a lush Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. In 2017, Epic Launched the Smoking Shields maduro to honor the Smoking Shields Cigar Club whose mission is to provide financial assistance to Law Enforcement professionals and our nation’s military and their immediate families.
Like many boutiques, Epic wisely kept vitolas offered to just 3 or 4 (Project E & Smoking Shields maduro come in only one) and focused on the 3 foundation blends: Connecticut, habano and maduro. The Habano comes in 4 vitolas: robusto, corona extra, gordo and a new 7.5” lancero. When I first learned the Habano featured an Ecuadorian wrapper, Cameroon binder and ligero filler I was intrigued. The oily, milk chocolate-colored Ecuadorian wrapper is overly veiny with semi visible seams. Aromas from the wrapper oozed with cocoa powder and caramel. The cap was poorly done and I was a little concerned the bottom third of the cigar was spongy. The cold draw is superb with a ‘V’ cut and layers on plenty of malt and tea flavors. The foot offers nuances of raisins and green tea.
The first 10-20 minutes of the Habano are very good but with noticeable rough edges. Complexity and balance are spot on initially but it quickly gets lost in what feels like random directions of flavors, a bitter aftertaste and a harshness that grows as you smoke it even after 6 months of age. Rough edges, bitterness and harshness make it smoke heavier than its “medium” description, more like medium-full to full. I’m also concerned about consistency based on previous reviews of the Habano going back 4 years which are all over the map with regards to aspects of quality, complexity and flavor palette. This smokes more like a $3-4 cigar and I personally would not buy more at $9. I wanted to like this cigar but unfortunately it continually gave me reason after reason to the contrary. I believe the blend plan is solid, just need to sort out the right configuration. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Villamil and Parsons initially created cigars that were sold at hotels and resorts at Caribbean hot spots such as Turks and Caicos.
- Profile: Medium
- Vitola: Robusto
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 5.5″ / 52
- Purchased: Local B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Cameroon
- Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Xikar Exec II
- Price paid: $9
- Age: 6 months
Build: Spongy on bottom third of cigar; sloppy cap
- Shaft – Cocoa powder; caramel; pepper
- Foot – Raisins; green tea
- Cold Draw – Malty; tea
Flavors: Burst of graham cracker, chocolate, black pepper w/light spice initially; hints of cinnamon; coffee-like finish; spice ratchets up soon after; noticeable harshness creeps in; woody profiles dominate transitions; lingering graham cracker, chocolate and earth notes w/toasty finishes in transition; cedar tang dominates remaining profile.
Complexity: Very good initially
Balance: Good initially
Touch ups: 2
Combustion: Very Good; minor burn irregularity after middle third requiring 2 touch-ups
Weaknesses: Loss of complexity after 20 minutes; bitterness on finish; becomes harsh and metallic; ash flaky and struggles to build past .75”
Recommend: 3 – 3rd stringer
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer
- Smoke a banana instead