I recently made a visit to our Des Plaines location. While there, I came across a box of cigars that were tucked away in the corner. This wasn’t a full box, but only had four cigars remaining. I was surprised to see these cigars still on the shelf, but at the same time I was glad they were there. They were going to go home with me. The cigar was the E.P. Carrillo Edicion Limitada 2010. We have a handful of boxes in our vintage program, and I won’t have a chance to try them for a few more years. Seeing these sticks on the shelf gave me the perfect opportunity to assess their progress.
The cigar was introduced in the fall of 2010 and quickly became a favorite. It was placed at #8 on Cigar Aficionado’s list of 25 Best Cigars in January of 2011, and scored a 94 rating. The demand went through the roof, but there already weren’t many boxes to go around. A total of 1,000 boxes, ten cigars each, were ever produced. Cigar Aficionado described it best, saying “The only flaw with this cigar is its rarity.” It was incredible four years ago, and possessed all the characteristics of a great cigar with flavor, balance, and construction. Could it hold up after all this time?
Removing the cigar from its cellophane, it gave off wonderful scents of raisins and wood. The dry draw revealed more raisin notes along with some spice and sweet wood. After a perfect light and a few initial puffs, it was evident that I was in for a great experience. Subtle flavors of caramel and paprika were starting to come through. The burn was impeccable and the wrapper’s feel was silky, a pleasure to roll around on the fingers. The cigar’s aroma was just as appealing and addictive. The more I puffed on the cigar, the more intense the initial caramel and paprika notes became. Towards the end of the first third, sweet wood notes became present and joined the party. It held its own so far, and I could tell it was far from reaching its pinnacle.
The second third of the cigar, the point I like to refer to as the “sweet spot,” really caught my attention as the level of complexity increased. Construction was flawless with a laser-straight burn and a near white ash, a sign of the cigar’s years of age. The paprika notes, while not completely disappearing, tapered off and took a smaller role, making way for the addition of apple and coffee notes. The layers of flavor that were now hitting my palate were incredible while staying completely balanced. Every puff revealed caramel, sweet wood, coffee, and a light spice along with apple notes towards the back end. Each flavor was distinct, yet each worked in perfect harmony with every other before and after. The orchestra of flavor was on a roll.
The armada of different characteristics continued into the final third of the smoke, met with the addition of cocoa notes. At this point the core notes were coffee, caramel, and cocoa. The cigar maintained its complexity and balance and had built itself up to medium to full in body. Anything that had dropped off at this point seemed to be intentional and well played out. The finish was extremely long and relentless, becoming so intense that it only took the smallest puffs to experience full effects. I was done an hour and a half later and had put the cigar down, but the flavors seemed to continue lingering for quite some time.
This cigar was a winner when first introduced, and had so much to offer. Besides its scarcity, there was nothing else bad to say about it, and I could have easily just closed the book on it and called it a day. Having the opportunity to smoke this stick nearly four years later has given me a completely different perspective. It showed characteristics that were definitely not present back in 2010. It’s a much more refined cigar today than it was upon release. Time has harmoniously married the tobaccos and brought out their elegance. As rare as this cigar is, it’s rarer to see a great cigar transform and become even better. Four years in and there’s still fuel in the tank, and when those remaining few boxes (seven to be exact) are released, I urge all who want to experience what time could do to a cigar to try and get their hands on a couple.
Laying cigars down to age and assuming they will transform into something better than they already are is not a given. Some cigars will not improve over time, and some will. Improving can be defined in many different ways when it comes to aging cigars, and in the case of the 2010 Edicion Limitada from E.P. Carrillo, it’s defined by its showing and manners.