|E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural|
The E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural is one of two blends of E.P. Carrillo’s upcoming Inch line. This is a line of cigars that is being geared toward big ring gauge cigar enthusiasts. All of the vitolas in the E.P. Carrillo Inch series have a 60 ring gauge and higher. There is no doubt that big ring gauges sell very well in retailer humidors, and the Inch line hopes to capitalize on this market. In a recent preview we did on vitola trends for the 2012 IPCPR, we pointed out how many manufacturers are now going beyond the 60 ring gauge mark, and the Inch line fills a demand from the marketplace. I firmly believe that when you get the right blend, a 60 (and 60 plus) ring gauge cigar can work and deliver an amazing cigar. With E.P. Carrillo, they have an advantage in that blender/company head Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is considered one of the pioneers with big ring gauge cigars. His work with La Gloria Cubana is considered innovative for what he did for the bigger ring gauges. Our recent sampling of the other blend in the Inch line, the E.P. Carrillo Inch Maduro proved that Perez-Carrillo knows what he is doing here. The E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural also delivers a solid smoking experience and should add another option for the big ring gauge cigar enthusiast.
In terms of production of the whole Inch line, we mentioned when we looked at the E.P. Carrillo Inch Maduro that: While the E.P. Carrillo Inch will not be a limited release cigar, it will be a limited production cigar on an annual basis. Due to tobacco supply limitations, the production will be capped at a maximum of 125,000 total cigars annually.
In addition, when we looked at the E.P. Carrillo Inch Maduro, we discussed how the Inch line got its name “Inch”: The Inch gets its name from its largest ring gauge – being the 64 ring gauge having a diameter of approximately one inch.
Since we received a pre-release sample of the E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural, we will default to our “pre-review” to give some thoughts and perspectives on this cigar. For our look at the E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural, we will look at the largest of the Inch ring gauges – the 64 ring gauge (called the No. 64). When it is released, we will provide a final assessment rating and score. We will also disclaim this content is based on a single pre-release sample.
The blend features a mix of Nicaraguan binder and Dominican filler for both the Inch Natural and Inch Maduro releases.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Dominican (Piloto Cubano, Corojo and Criollo ’98)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican (Piloto Cubano, Corojo and Criollo ’98)
The vitolas for both the Inch Natural and Inch Maduro lines are the same. At this time there are three offerings – all a 60 ring gauge and above.
No. 60: 5 7/8 x 60
No. 62: 5 x 62
No. 64: 6 1/4 x 64
As mentioned above, for this cigar experience I went with the E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural No. 64 vitola. The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper has a rosado color to it with an oily complexion. The cigar has both visible veins and visible wrapper seams. Like the E.P. Carrillo Inch Maduro No. 64, the Inch Natural No. 64 is well-packed. (This is a key factor when smoking a big ring gauge cigar in my book).
The banding of the Inch Series is different from anything E.P. Carrillo has done. Prior to the release of the Inch Series, the banding was very simple – the E.P. Carrillo logo was pretty much the basis for the band. The Inch Series goes for a very different design on the band. The design of this band is one of a golden yellow ruler/tape measure There is a gold design that gives the effect of a “fastener” to wrapping the ruler around the cigar (see picture above) The fastener has a gold circle that has “BY E.P. CARRILLO” etched around it. Below the gold circle is the text “INCH” etched on it – also on a gold background.
|Another view of the ruler banding of the E.P. Carrillo Inch Series|
|Traditional E.P. Carrillo logo – color scheme may vary, but logo is the same on the prior releases to the Inch|
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I prepared to fire up my E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural, I went with a straight cut into the large cap of the cigar. While readers of Cigar Coop know I prefer a straight cut; when it comes to large ring gauge cigars, this is almost a default. Before lighting, my first step was to perform the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes were very different than I got on the Inch Maduro. The flavors were along the lines of a cedar sweet/spice. Overall, it wasn’t a very complex pre-light draw, but it was still satisfactory. At this point, it was time to fire up my E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.
This particular E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural I smoked was a pre-release sample that I smoked a couple of days after receipt. While the sample did not require age, I do think the flavors will get even better and more mature with some additional age.
The start to the E.P. Carrillo Natural continued with the cedar sweet/spice notes that I detected on the pre-light draw. I also detected some nut flavors in the background. Around the five percent mark, the sweet/spice quality began to split. The cedar notes in the front maintained their sweetness. The spice moved to the background and transitioned to more of light red pepper. I also noticed some floral notes move into the forefront.
Around the fifteen percent mark, some coffee notes surfaced as a secondary note. At this point the flavor profile was the floral/cedar sweetness as a primary note. The coffee and nut flavors were secondary, and the red pepper was more in a tertiary note. Overall this was pretty much the flavor profile that held for the majority of the smoking experience At times the notes would vary in intensity, but overall the way I described the primary, secondary, and tertiary notes was how I assessed the flavors throughout. Toward the end, the red pepper did move up to a secondary note. As the cigar went to a close, there was still a multidimensional quality to the flavors (something that I find is not all too common at the end of a cigar). The resulting nub was soft to the touch, but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
My experience with the burn of the E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural was very similar to the Inch Maduro. The burn tended to get jagged for a good chunk of the cigar experience. The cigar required multiple touch-ups and these touch-ups kept the burn relatively straight. When I smoked the Inch Maduro I wasn’t sure if the jagged burn was due a recently shipped sample or due to an isolated case. Since I had a similar experience with both Inch blends, I’ll infer that this was probably due to the fact it was just shipped. There were no issues with the burn rate or burn temperature as both were ideal.
The draw was excellent on the Inch Natural. This was a similar experience to what I had on the Inch Maduro. No doubt Perez-Carrillo has done his homework making sure this big ring gauge cigar would provide a good draw.
Strength and Body
I did not find the E.P. Carrillo Inch Natural to be an overpowering cigar from a nicotine perspective. While the Inch Maduro had enough strength to be considered medium to full strength, I assessed the Inch Natural to be medium strength. The Inch Natural should still provide enough strength to keep most cigar enthusiasts satisfied. As for the depth of the flavors; while the Inch Maduro was medium to full-bodied, the Inch Natural was in the medium-bodied range. There were a couple of times where I thought the Inch Natural would progress to medium to full, but this did not happen. The strength and body balance each other very nicely.
Given that the E.P. Carrillo Inch comes in a natural and maduro variety, the big question is going to be which cigar is the better blend? I think the answer will vary among cigar enthusiasts. In my mind, I gave the Inch Maduro a slight edge over the Inch Natural. This is not a knock on the Inch Natural as it still is a fine cigar and one I would smoke again. Like the Inch Maduro, the Inch Natural proves to be a good blend that can work with a 64 ring gauge. I am curious to see what the Inch Natural smokes in the other ring gauges – and I’d be curious to see what this blend would be like in a ring gauge below 60. This is a very good cigar for a novice enthusiast who wants to sample a (very) large ring gauge. I’d also recommend this to a cigar enthusiast who prefers a big ring gauge. As for those cigar enthusiasts who don’t like big ring gauges, I’d still encourage them to give it a try.
Source: This cigar was provided by E.P. Carrillo. This request was initiated by E.P. Carrillo in order to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.