E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural

The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal series is a new line coming from E.P. Carrillo and is currently surrounded with mystery. It was at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show where the Carrillo family started to show this cigar.   Like the recent release of the Inch by E.P. Carrillo, the Cardinal is going to be released in both a natural and maduro.  Other than that, there isn’t a lot known about the Cardinal at this time.  I recently have had an opportunity to sample a pre-release of E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural.  If this is any indication of what is to come, the Cardinal Natural might prove to be another home run by E.P. Carrillo.

The only hints that have been dropped about the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal is that this is intended to be a cigar for full-bodied cigar enthusiasts.  We can assume this is another creation by E.P. Carrillo’s Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.  Otherwise, this is a cigar line that is (currently) shrouded with mystery.

Let’s take a closer look at the E.P. Carrillo Natural and see what kind of a cigar experience this brings to the table.  Since this is a pre-release sample, we will default to a “pre-review” to provide thoughts and perspectives on this cigar.   When the cigar makes its way to retailers, we will provide an assessment rating and score.  I will also disclaim this write-up is based on a single smoking experience.

Blend Profile

At the time of this write-up, there has been no information publicly disclosed of the blends for the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal..  I think it is fun to sometimes have a little guesswork at what the blend is.  For now, we will list the wrapper, binder, and filler as “unknown”.

Wrapper: Unknown
Binder: Unknown
Filler: Unknown

Vitolas Available

At this time, the specific frontmarks and their corresponding dimensions have not been disclosed for either the Natural or Maduro blends.


For this cigar experience, I sampled a toro-sized vitola.  The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural has a medium brown colored wrapper to it.  The wrapper itself has an oily complexion to it.   There are visible wrapper seams as well as visible veins on the wrapper.

The band to the Cardinal is a variation of the yellow, red, black, and gold color scheme of the core E.P. Carrillo logo.  The band features a two major stripes -a  yellow one across the top half and a red one across the bottom half.  On the yellow stripe is a black square with the letters “E.P” in a classic scripted gold font.  There are also beige leaves going across the yellow stripe.  On the red stripe is featured the text “CARRILLO” in white font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my cigar experience with the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural, I placed a straight cut into the cap and proceeded to start the pre-light draw.    The dry draw notes had some nice flavor nuances as I detected notes of wood and coffee. To a lesser extent, I also detected notes of cedar and baker’s spice.  Overall, I considered the pre-light draw of the Cardinal Natural to be very good.  It was now time to toast the foot of my Cardinal Natural and see what the smoking experience would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural provided me flavors of roasted nuts, pepper, and natural tobacco flavors.  It is worth mentioning up front that the roasted nuts and spice also made its way to the aroma of the cigar.  As the cigar progressed through the first third, I also detected some notes of citrus.  The citrus notes complemented the other flavors at different levels – at times it was in the background and other times it was in the forefront.

As the cigar moves into the second third, the flavor profile moved to more of a citrus spice.  The citrus notes had an orange quality to it – thus creating an orange spice.  At the same time the nut flavors remained in the background.  As the cigar progressed through the second third, the nut notes displaced the citrus flavors – creating more of a toasted nut spice.  The citrus notes moved to the background and by the final third dissipated.

The toasted nut spice held right to the end of the cigar.  There was some spice at the end of the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural, but it was not overwhelming.  The resulting nub was soft at the end, but cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural was vintage EPC in terms of construction.  This is a well made cigar and it is reflected in the burn and draw.  The burn and draw both score very high.  The burn line remained relatively straight from start to finish.  The resulting ash was tight and very white in color.  The burn rate and burn temperature were also ideal.   The Cardinal Natural did have a touch of resistance on the draw.  This is something I like when smoking a cigar, so I consider that a plus.  At the same time, this is not a cigar you are going to have to battle to enjoy.

Strength and Body

As mentioned above, this cigar is positioned as a full-bodied offering by E.P. Carrillo.   There is no doubt there is a lot of depth to the flavors on the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural.  The cigar starts out medium to full-bodied in the first half and progresses to full-bodied in the second half.  From a nicotine perspective, this cigar follows a similar pattern.  The Cardinal Natural starts out medium to full strength and progresses to full strength.  The Cardinal Natural is one of those cigars that has a nice dose of power, but is not what I term a nicotine bomb.   The strength and body balance each other perfectly with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

2012 has been a very strong year for E.P. Carrillo – following up a very strong 2011. There were excellent releases with the Inch Series and E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut Short Run 2012.  The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural is right up there, and while I’ve had only one sample, I can see this becoming a very popular release for EPC.  It will be very interesting to see if some information on the blend is disclosed – and what the production quantities will be.  This cigar has wonderful flavors and some nice complexity to it.  I normally don’t make a big deal about aroma, but I loved the scent coming from this blend as it burned. The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Natural is a cigar that will please full-strength, full-bodied cigar enthusiasts, so I would probably steer it to experienced cigar enthusiasts.  As for myself, this is a cigar I look forward to smoking again – and one worth considering a box purchase of.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Full (Medium to Full in 1st Half)
Body: Full (Medium to Full in 1st Half)
Finish: Good

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.