Bite Size Review: E. P. Carrillo Encore Celestial
Encore Majestic rated 96 and was named #1 Cigar of 2018 by Cigar Aficionado
It’s rare that we come across a cigar crafted by E. P Carrillo that we’re not fussing about. From his magic behind La Gloria Cubana to the lines featured under his own brand, E.P Carrillo continues to innovate. The fact that three of his cigars have been rated in the top 5 in Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of The Year honors in just the last 5 years is enough to give anyone pause. Not bad for a former jazz drummer who initially wanted nothing to do with his dad’s L’il Havana-based El Credito cigar business. I don’t know how talented a drummer he is/was, but boy we sure are glad he chose cigars. Amen.
In 2014, Carrillo launched the first cigar, La Historia, in what he calls the Perez-Carrillo Series, a nod to the dedication and hard work of he, his family and the generations before him to make E. P. Carrillo Cigars a reality. The 4-country blend outfitted with a Mexican San Andres wrapper shattered expectations by taking home not one, but two 90+ ratings from Cigar Aficionado for both the El Senador (92) and E-III (95) vitolas. The E-III, a 6 7/8” x 54 wide Churchill, went on to claim the #2 spot on Cigar Aficionado’s 2014 Cigar of The Year. “How do you follow THAT?”, you ask. You give ‘em an encore.
Two years later, Carrillo showed up at the 2016 IPCPR show to debut the next installment in his Perez-Carrillo Series line: Encore. Supercharging his ‘A’ game, Carrillo decided on doing something he’d never done before; create an aged, all-Nicaraguan blend using tobaccos from Estelí, Condega and Jalapa. In addition, Carrillo employed a seldom-used technique of aging by arranging the tobaccos in “tercios.” This process includes wrapping palm tree bark (yagua) around the tobaccos which are then baled and aged for 2 years. This natural process allows for a natural two-way humidification system. At the last minute, Carrillo decided against launching Encore to allow for additional aging.
In 2018, Carrillo finally gave the green light and Encore was unleashed. So, how do you top the success of La Historia? Snag a 96 rating (1 better than La Historia) and #1 Cigar of The Year honors from the good life mag, of course. Since the Majestic (robusto) got all the attention, we decided to go with the Toro, Celestial. The rich, graham cracker pigment complements the box press of the longer Toro that feels solid, soft to the touch and is lightly oily. Thoughtful aesthetics is just the beginning as delicious fragrances of cake batter and milk chocolate emanate from the wrapper and foot. The draw is effortless and offers a light wash of a minty essence mixed with figs.
Already feeling like I was in for something special, the opening profile didn’t disappoint as I was treated to a nutty, toasty persona surrounded by notes of leather, salted caramel and red pepper. A faint whiff of walnuts is noticeable on the draw and Encore finishes with a toasty essence of sweet wood. A light spice appears early and remains throughout and the character is light, airy and warm. Transitions feature equally unique, and delicious, woody profiles hugging dominant notes of oak, coffee, caramel, cherries and dark chocolate. One aspect really caught my attention: as the palette and body become more robust, the finish remains crisp and light on the palate. Wow.
Although also a foregone conclusion of greatness, Encore’s combustion and overall performance also fail to disappoint imparting a near perfect burn and a relatively strong ash. There’s no question the flavor palette is unique and sublime, but Carrillo’s ability to ramp up the body, intensity and spice yet maintain a balanced complexity with light finishes is rare. The palate just never gets overwhelmed. Special.
To say this cigar is exploding with value and is boxworthy is an understatement. I’ll simply suggest that other top-shelf Dominican producers should be looking over their collective shoulders because the sub-$12 Encore and the Perez-Carrillo Series are redefining what we should be unboxing for those special occasions … and everyday. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Encore is the first Nicaraguan puro ever created by EPC.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Celestial [Toro]
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.125″ x 50
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $11.67 [Box $116.70]
- Humidor Age: 10 mo.
- Box: 10
- Other Vitolas: Majestic [5 3/8″x52], Valientes [Torpedo 6 1/8″x52], El Primero [6 7/8″x54]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:12
Construction: Box press; triple cap; solid throughout; soft to touch; semi-seamless; veiny graham cracker coloring; lightly oily; great smoke producer; holds 1″ salt and pepper ash.
- Wrapper – Cake batter
- Foot – Milk Chocolate w/earthy essence
- Cold Draw – Minty, hint of figs
- Initial: Toasty, nutty personality; draw teaming with notes of walnuts; dominant notes of red pepper, leather and salted caramel; light spice and medium bodied; warm, light and airy character; nice finish of toast and sweet wood; settles in adding in some oak; semi-sweet and savory;
- Transition: Woody center; finishes lighter with notes of coffee; oak notes more intense; caramel and leather on retro more prominent; overall more robust; light cherry essence on both draw and retro; bold persona but light on the palate.
- Transition: Uptick in spice and complexity; remains overtly woody; nice balance of sweet cedar and dark chocolate; intermittent bitterness; warm earth and charred wood notes at tail end of retro.
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Some dried areas of wrapper under band
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]