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Cigar Review – E.P. Carrillo Cardinal 52

As you may know, Ernesto Perez Carrillo is the man responsible for La Gloria Cubana‘s rise to fame during the cigar boom of the 1990’s. Nowadays he’s running the show at his own family-owned and operated E.P. Carrillo cigars. The Cardinal was Carrillo’s fourth regular production release, rounding out his premium cigar line-up with a full-bodied smoke to accompany his mostly medium-bodied offerings. For today’s review I decided to take a break from the barrage of new releases that have been bombarding our loading docks as of late and light up the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal 52 (5×52.)

The cigar’s wrapper was fairly grainy and mottled with a good amount of pronounced veins throughout. Construction looked solid and the stick was pretty firm with just a little bit of give. Pre-light draws gave off a taste of creamy cedar and light citrus.

The Cardinal 52’s initial profile consisted of flavors of cedar, white pepper, nutmeg, and cream. Ensuing draws saw the intensity of the pepper ramp up slightly before becoming awash in a sea of creamy and nutty flavors with a great caramel sweetness on the finish. The burn was on point and a neat grey ash was coming along nicely.

The second 3rd introduced some light citrus similar to what I had detected on the pre-light. Soon I was picking up some unexpected notes of cocoa, and spice was popping up here and there at various levels of intensity during this especially tasty portion. Additional flavors I picked up here were of toasted bread, almond, and some light cinnamon. As I reached the halfway point of the smoke I finally lost the ash.

The last third, while a bit “murkier” than the previous two, continued to show good complexity and tons of full flavor. A final dose of creaminess showed up, offsetting the darker flavors and allowing me to enjoy this smoke for a little bit longer than usual.

The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal was a super-flavorful and relaxing smoke right down to the final inch. This thing had layered flavors and managed to be both complex and smooth, a feat that many cigars attempt but few achieve successfully. It also delivered its full-bodied strength in a very sneaky fashion. The fact that I was smoking very slowly may have helped, but at no point did the nicotine levels become overly apparent. I give the Cardinal 52 an A grade and chalk it up as another great stogie from Mr. Carrillo. What can I say, the guy makes good cigars.