4 May 2015
On Friday, it was announced that Gary Griffith had stepped down as head of Emilio Cigars, House of Emilio (the distribution arm of Emilio and several other boutique lines), and the Delaware Cigars retail shops. The announcement referred to this development as Griffith’s “retirement,” noting “his legacy will continue through the brands he’s helped, the distribution company he led, and the cigars that he blended.”
One of the brands Griffith “helped” is Epicurean, which is still part of the House of Emilio. “Epicurean Cigars was created under the careful eye of Steven Ysidron with its focus on handcrafted, small-batch salon cigars,” reads the Epicurean website. “Steven started making cigars in the late 1980s with his father and the Fuente family in the Dominican Republic. In 1999, Steven and his family started producing cigars in Nicaragua.”
Epicurean boasts brands like Gonzo Santeria, AG Vintage 2007, AG Azul Vintage 2008, Santeria Mojo, and Gonzo Vintage 2007. Last September, the Plasencia-made Epicurean Carnavale started hitting retailers in 4 sizes that retail for $9-10 apiece. The blend features a Jalapa Habano Oscuro wrapper around American, Honduran, and Nicaraguan tobaccos (including ASP Estelí Ligero, which are some of the most sought-after leaves around).
The box-pressed Carnavale Lancero samples I smoked for this review all had seamless surfaces and only the thinnest veins. The feel is moderate to moderately soft, and a simple V-cut is all that’s needed to establish an easy cold draw. Off the foot, there’s plenty of pre-light sweetness and earth.
Once underway, the initial profile has plenty of oak and dried fruit with lingering cedar spice. From there, coffee takes center stage, while some sweet chocolaty notes add balance. The texture is bready. Black pepper only becomes evident with frequent puffing, especially if smoked through the nose. At the midway point and beyond, there’s ample bitterness, salt, and earth along with rich tastes of espresso and cocoa.
Construction is solid with average smoke production, a stable ash, smooth draw (especially for a Lancero), and a mostly straight burn line that requires only a few touch-ups along the way.
I’d recommend the Epicurean Carnavale Lancero to anyone looking for a medium-bodied, coffee-centric Lancero. While some additional age would likely round off the edges, right out of the gate this cigar is worthy of an admirable rating of three and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys