Much and more has been made regarding the FDA’s recent rules and how these could/would negatively affect the cigar industry. These new rules would supposedly make it very expensive and difficult to introduce new cigars to the market. Many companies, in response, rushed several new blends into the market in small numbers, a sort of loophole that would allow them to formally introduce the new blends at a later date. Another work-around for these new restrictions is to reintroduce old blends, and that’s what we have here with the old/new Elencos cigar by E.P. Carrillo. The company restructured/recategorized their cigars in 2016, creating a tiered system that established a hierarchy within the line; and Elencos falls into the new “Elite” tier, along with the New Wave Reserva, Capa del Sol, and Selección Oscuro.
Elencos was originally introduced in 2010 as E.P. Carrillo Edición Limitada 2010. The next year it was to return as a limited (regular) production offering and renamed E.P. Carrillo Elencos, and was ranked #8 on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 list. It was then discontinued, for reasons unknown to this reviewer, in 2013. At the 2017 IPCPR it was re-reintroduced as a regular, non-limited production cigar that would become the fourth member of the Elite series. With the sizes and stats remaining the same—Brazilian wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and Nicaraguan filler tobacco—the only changes are with the packaging, bringing it in line with the other Elite series releases.
Elencos Don Rubino Breakdown
- Wrapper: Brazilian
- Binder: Ecuadorian
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5¼″ × 50 “Don Rubino” (Robusto)
- Price: $8.25 (MSRP)
My eye is first drawn to the very attractive band. It is mostly silver with some black negative space, red highlights, and white font; with a very nicely rendered duo-tone tropical isle-inspired artwork on the sides. It’s very well done, and is a perfect contrast and complement to the cigar itself, which is a striking dark-roasted coffee bean hue with black striation. There are a few small veins present and, save for the neatly applied triple cap, the cigar is fairly lumpy and rustic in appearance. There are soft spots up and down the length of the cigar. The wrapper has a slight tooth that feels like a dusty stone-ground flour. There is surprisingly little visible oil on the wrapper, considering its rich, deep, dark coloration, but there is some sparkling of the crystalized sugars on the leaf.
The pre-light aromas and flavors of this cigar are of mild coffee, dried figs and raisins, slight leather, cedar, and Tootsie Roll. Upon lighting, the first few puffs absolutely knock my socks off with intense chocolate cream pie flavors. It’s all swirling around in there—rich chocolate mousse, sweet whipped cream, buttery pie crust that quickly transforms to Oreo cookie crumbles (without that nasty white paste they put in there), and then on the heels of all that is an as-yet-indiscernible pepper/spice tingle in the nostrils. Whew! What a mouthful to begin a cigar! The abundant smoke is creamy, rich, and dense; the finish is long and you can list off the multitudinous flavors as they whiz by. This cigar is not playing… it’s serious. The pepper moves from the nostrils to the back of the throat, and starts to remind me of habanero. There is so much chocolate dessert flavor happening. This gives the La Caréme a run for it’s money as the “big papa of dessert cigars.” The burn is somewhat wavy, but there are no real problems of concern. Chocolate, graham cracker, butter, pie crust, smoked whipped cream, oh my! I was so caught up in the melange of flavors, I failed to note my impressions of strength and body, so let’s call it an even medium? I suspect I failed to note it as it’s working in perfect concert with the other elements, and like a great waiter, it’s best when you don’t even notice it.
Entering the second third after a transcendent thirty-three minutes, there is a tremendous earthiness/woodiness that is realized as charred, smokey oak. The pepper has relaxed and the decadent chocolate dessert flavors are transitioning to a more straightforward baker’s chocolate. Saltiness rides in on roasted nut flavors. The spice becomes distant, while the chocolate weakens to that of a chocolate soda with strong carbonation and a hint of mineral flavors, as if La Croix made a chocolate flavor (they should, btw). This is salty, meaty, sweet, and nutty—a killer maduro with a ton of complexity in the first half. Elencos begins transitioning towards woody notes, with a strong, oaky flavor becoming the main show. My only complaint at this point is that the draw is light and airy. If the smoke was denser or chewier, it’d push this thing right over the top. I notice some citrus zest flavor and an increase in the meaty/umami sensation. The burn line is still wavy, but has only required one touchup to this point. At the midway point I do take note of the strength being a medium/full, but sadly I make this note as a means of acknowledging that the flavors have started to taper. I take a moment to enjoy the aesthetics of the cigar; the ash is a perfect match to the silver of the band, the ember of the cigar pumps out smoke like a South Side smokestack, and the smoke is a beautiful deep blue color.
I’m entering the final third after an hour and ten minutes. Gone is the excitement of the first half. Spice and chocolate are very faint, replaced by charred, woody, more-salty-than-sweet creaminess. It’s a nice combo that somehow harkens back to eating dirty Oreo cookies as a kid, but in comparison to the first third, it’s lacking. I’m feeling less like I’m looking at what the cigar is at this point, but noticing what it isn’t anymore. After a lull, the body and flavor both pick back up, and it’s chewy and strong and delicious again. Baker’s chocolate is back with zesty cedar creaminess, lemon hard candy tartness, and a return of a slight spiciness. It’s very creamy once again, with an ever-so-mild funkiness that is like softened, cultured butter smeared on sourdough bread. The second-to-last inch, sadly, was tangy more than anything else, and was my least favorite part of the cigar. I set a one-inch nub down after one hour and forty-seven minutes. Strength, body, and flavor finished at a respectable medium/full across the board.
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Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I was really impressed with the first third of this cigar, and was on course to just walk up to Mr. Carrillo and hand him all of my money. The middle third, however, was the beginning of a decline that didn’t correct until nearly midway through the final third, when it finally picked back up. Given the soft spots and the way the draw had become light and airy throughout that period, I suspect that this was a fault in construction, not of the blend. I have a love/hate relationship with some of my all-time favorite cigars. I love them when they are perfect, and I hate the construction errors that occur too often to ignore. A light bunch here, overstuffed there, and more often than not the otherwise perfect cigar can become an exercise in frustration. The missed potential makes the issues more glaring, whereas if it were a lesser (read: cheaper) cigar, I may be more forgiving since I wouldn’t have the feeling that I’m missing out on something so great. I can see this cigar falling into this category, if the construction issues are persistent. I haven’t smoked enough of them to say with certainty, at this point, but I do intend to find out.
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium / Full
- Body: Medium / Full
- Chocolate Dessert
- Whipped Cream
- Salty Nuts
- Charred Wood
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: any beer brewed with chocolate cereal, Coconut La Croix, caffè mocha
- Purchase Recommendation: Fiver
- Great flavors
- Good value
- Flavor falls off in second half