Today, we take a look at the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào Dragon. This was part of a 12-cigar ultra-premium collection called the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào. This would be E.P. Carrillo’s foray into two different spaces. First, it would be E.P. Carrillo’s entry into Chinese Zodiac-themed cigars. Second, it would be the most expensive E.P. Carrillo offering to date. The 12-cigar collection of the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào has an MSRP of $1,000.00. This comes out to $83.33 per cigar, but most retailers opted to sell the collection (which came in a custom humidor) as a whole. Singapore-based Cigar Specialist International would handle distribution for this project. As a result, most of the distribution was targeted at the Asian market. A total of 2,500 humidor units were produced, and while the majority went to the Asian market, some were allocated to the U.S. market.
The name Shēngxiào stands for Chinese Zodiac. This release is unique because while most companies have opted to do an annual release around a specific Chinese Zodiac year (i.e., Year of the Dragon), the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào contains 12 cigars. Each of the 12 cigar blends of the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào represents one of the animals on the Chinese Zodiac. For this assessment, we are focused on the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào Dragon – which represents the year of the Dragon. Below are the twelve animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac. We list these from the upcoming Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon.
- Goat (Sheep)
Each of the twelve cigars is laid out in a mahogany humidor. We will talk about the humidor in the BANDING AND PACKAGING section.
The name Aura is tied to energy, which is tied to the Chinese Zodiac. According to E.P. Carrillo, the first energy one experiences is at birth, and this initial energy is represented by the Chinese Zodiac.
For now, we will turn our attention to the Shēngxiào Dragon blend and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào Dragon Cigar Review
Blend and Origin
The Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào humidor comes with a blend book that describes the Dragon blend as follows:
Although dark and imposing, the Aura Dragon blend is not as aggressive as one might think. While certainly full of assertive character, it is nuanced as well This effect is produced by the Ernesto’s creative blending of Mexican wrapper. Ecuadoran binder and Nicaraguan filler This cigar is not only full of dried-fruit notes and chocolate-covered raisin sweetness, but is an exercise in restraint and balance.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza
All 12 of the blends of the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào come in a 6 1/8 x 52 Torpedo vitola. The Torpedo is not a vitola often associated with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, but he occasionally makes some. As mentioned, the Dragon is one of twelve blends included in boxes. Since there were 2,500 Aura boxes produced, 2,500 of the Dragon cigars have been produced.
The San Andres wrapper of the Shēngxiào Dragon had a milk chocolate color to it. There was some oil on the surface and a slight amount of mottling. The surface of the wrapper was slightly bumpy and had a slight amount of toothiness to it. There were only a couple of veins I could detect on the surface. As for wrapper seams, some were prominently visible. The torpedo tip had a moderate taper where it converged to a tip.
A straight cut was used to remove the torpedo tip of the Shēngxiào Dragon. A little more than half of the tip was removed so the tapering effect could still be a part of the smoking experience. From that point, it was on to the pre-light experience. The cold draw delivered a mix of mocha and hay. The mocha note was a classic fusion of coffee and chocolate, with the coffee component having a slight edge. This was a simple but satisfactory pre-light draw experience. From this point, it was time to remove the ribbon of the Shēngxiào Dragon and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào Dragon opened up with notes of coffee, earth, wood, hay, and mixed pepper. Early on, the coffee notes moved into the forefront, with the earth, wood, hay, and pepper notes settling in the background. About halfway through the first third, some dark chocolate entered the equation. This dark chocolate started in the background but went to the forefront a few times. The dark chocolate imparted some sweetness into the equation. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of mixed pepper on the retro-hale.
During the second third of the Shēngxiào Dragon, there was an increase in the pepper and wood notes. As the pepper notes increased, the dark chocolate notes decreased. The increase in the pepper had some pungent qualities to it. Meanwhile, the coffee notes remained at the forefront. There were still notes of earth and hay present as well.
The final third saw the coffee notes remain grounded in the forefront. The pepper notes were the most dominant secondary note and remained pungent. Meanwhile, notes of wood, earth, hay, and dark chocolate were still present. This is the way the Shēngxiào Dragon came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Overall, the burn of the Shēngxiào Dragon performs as I would expect from an ultra-premium cigar. This cigar maintained a straight burn path and straight burn line – requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was a silver-gray color. This was an ash that was on the firm side. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature maintained ideal levels.
Like the burn, the draw of the Shēngxiào Dragon also performed as I would expect from an ultra-premium cigar. This draw had a touch of resistance to it, which I like. At the same time, this was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The Shēngxiào Dragon started out with medium strength and medium-bodied flavors. For the most part, there wasn’t much of an increase in strength. The body increases in intensity, and by the second third, it moves into medium to full territory. The body continued to increase and, toward the last third, came close to the full-bodied area of the spectrum but didn’t quite cross the threshold.
In terms of strength versus body, the body maintains an edge for most of the smoking experience. The edge grows as the body increases in intensity.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
There are two bands on each Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào cigar. Each cigar shared the same primary band: a gold, brown, and bronze Aura E.P. Carrillo logo. Each cigar has a unique red and gold secondary band. On each band is a rendering of the Chinese Zodiac animal for that cigar with the text “SHĒNGXÌAO” under it. The lower part of each band has the name of the blend.
The humidor in which the 12 blends are housed is quite impressive. We will start with the outer box.
Inside the outer box, the humidor is in a red velvet sleeve where it is housed.
Removing the velvet sleeve reveals the humidor with a brass Aura E.P. Carrillo logo on the cover. The outer brass ring on the cover has the animals of the Shēngxiào.
Opening the box reveals the 12 cigars. There is a humidification unit at the top, and the bottom houses the blend book.
The blend book not only contains the wrapper, binder, and filler info but also some context about the blend itself.
If you want a classic San Andres Maduro experience, the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào Dragon will deliver it. This will include notes of coffee, earth, dark chocolate, and pepper spice in the pungent size. This isn’t necessarily my personal flavor profile, but I’ve seen many seek out this profile. Thus far, I haven’t seen any retailers pull apart the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào collection, so it’s not something I can recommend as a single. While I certainly wouldn’t spend $1,000.00 for a box for this blend, what I will say is check out our reviews from The Smoking Syndicate Roundtable. There are plenty of other blends, and the collection as a whole is something you might want to consider.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Wood, Hay Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Body: Medium (1st third), Medium to Full (Remainder0
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
The Smoking Syndicate Roundtable
The Smoking Syndicate Roundtable has assessed 9 of the 12 cigars in the Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào. This was done in two roundtable installments. Part 1 saw the Shēngxiào Goat (Sheep), Shēngxiào Rabbit, Shēngxiào Pig, and Shēngxiào Ox.
Part 2 saw the Shēngxiào Snake, Shēngxiào Rat, Shēngxiào Monkey, and Shēngxiào Dog.
News: E.P. Carrillo and Cigar Specialist International Team Up to Release Super Premium Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào
Price: $83.33 (Cigar)/ $1,000.00 for Aura E.P. Carrillo Shēngxiào Unit
Source: E.P. Carrillo
Brand Reference: Aura E.P. Carrillo
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop
Video Credit: Cigar Coop/The Smoking Syndicate