E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017 (Pre-Release) | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Brazilian
Binder: Dominican (Original press release erroneously described binder as Ecuadorian)
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.25 x 50 Don Rubino (Robusto)
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $8.25

Today we take a look at the new E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017.

Release is set for mid-October.

The original 2011 blend was called “Elencos.” The name has changed to only “Elenco.” This is due to Carrillo only making one cigar for the public to share. It’s called market research.

From the E.P. Carrillo folks:

“E. P. Carrillo Cigar Company is proud to announce the Elencos Series of Cigars.  Elencos was originally released in 2010 as a limited edition cigar and subsequently a full production version, receiving high accolades from the industry and the consumer alike.  It was one of Cigar Aficionados Top 25 Cigars of the year in 2012.

“Adorned with a Brazilian wrapper over an Ecuadorian Binder and Nicaraguan fillers the Elencos will become a member of the Elite Series of Cigars, part of the overall portfolio which E. P. Carrillo offers.  Elencos will be offered in three sizes; Don Rubino a 5 1/4 x 50, Elites a 6 x 54 and Acto Mayor a 6 1/4 x 52 figurado.  Elenco means “cast” in Spanish and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has often been asked how he got the names of the three sizes.  “Don Rubino is just a name” he says, “But its a great cigar, while Eiltes means Elite and Acto Mayor is the Major Act in a play.”  The inspiration for these names rests in the mind of the master himself, as only he truly knows what inspired him at the time.
Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza

Don Rubino: 5.25 x 50 $8.25 (Robusto)
Elites: 6 x 54 $9.00 (Toro)
Acto Mayor: 6.25 x 52 $9.25 (Torpedo)

In normal light, the stick is so charcoal black it seems dyed. In sunlight and under my photography lights, it is all about marbled rust.
The stick is a little light in the loafers in the bottom third. It is a rustic looking twig with lumps and bumps galore. Seams are tight and lots of tiny veins permeate the surface.
And the cigar band is abnormally showy compared to other Carrillo blends. That will add 50 cents to the cost of the cigar.

From the shaft, I can smell cinnamon, dark cocoa, red pepper, coffee, honey cream, very nutty, cedar, and barnyard.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell creamy hot chocolate, red pepper, barnyard, cinnamon, cedar, strong roasted almonds, caramel coffee, and cream.

The cold draw presents flavors of red pepper, almonds, coffee, cocoa, cream, cedar, malts, and barnyard.

This is my first stick as I was provided just two sticks…the Robusto and a big ol’ Toro…so I am as curious as you about this new tweaked addition.

First up is a bevy of creaminess, red pepper, chocolate, nuts, malts, caramel, with a slight touch of molasses…and of course, earth, wood, and leather.

Strength hits a potent medium immediately.

The burn begins to stray from home. I hope this is not a prediction of things to come.

A strong element of earthiness that uses the tobacco as a vehicle to show off the ground that the plants were grown in.

Complexity shows its pretty little head. Transitions begin. The finish is long and luxurious…like me…except I’m not long.

The draw is excellent. Once again, I don’t need my PerfecDraw cigar poker (15% off with promo code: Katman…BTW- I am the only reviewer allowed to provide a discount for this great invention)…Although, I use the tool a lot on my everyday smokes. I’ve saved dozens of cigars since I obtained my poker.

There is a satisfying balance going on. Flavors, body, strength, intensity, and finish are making this a nice surprise.

Also, this has a real New Breed quality to the blending technique. I don’t have a lot of humidor time on this puppy. I took the chance if the cigar wasn’t ready, I’d at least have the Toro to review later. But so far, so good. I believe the Dalai Lama said that.

The suffering I endure to bring you the finest drivel about cigars is unparalleled. It appears fall has finally hit Wisconsin with a morning temp of 53 but with 14mph winds as I sit next to an open window freezing my tuchas off as the wind is causing my extremities to pucker. I complain now but in about two months, I will be doing this with 20 below zero weather. Now that will be some serious whining coming from this old man.

The burn line is a little fakakta.

I’m enjoying this new release. This is one of Carrillo’s best outings in a while. And the price is right for a quality blend.

Smoke time is 25 minutes.
Strength is now medium/full.

Flavors are all about the malts, coffee, creaminess, spice, and chocolate with that big loader full of almonds. The sweetness is derived from a sense of salted caramel and molasses.

This is a good cigar. From the beginning, there has been a nice acceleration of intensity and expanding flavors.

I wrote a review of the original Elencos back in February of 2014. I avoided reading it til I finished my review but I have no discipline and I just checked.

While the leaf stats are different, I am amazed at how similar the experience is. I nearly describe the exact same flavors. And the price is the same from almost 4 years ago. Gotta give Ernie props for maintaining costs and not BS’ing Carrillo’s customer base.

And then like a smack on the head from Thor’s hammer, the blend takes off like a rocket. Wham.

Flavors explode in my face like a lemon cream pie. I’m sure with more humidor time, this would have happened from the first.

Oh I love my malts and this blend is malt heavy. The E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017 is on its game.

This blend should be hitting stores any day now. I advise you wipe the dust off the hidden credit card that the wife doesn’t know about and buy a bunch of these sticks.

Still, this is not a kitchen sink blend. Flavors expose themselves in bundles. One puff is full of savory elements and the next is all about tender sweet components.

The spiciness is on the back burner. And has morphed from red to black pepper.

Halfway through at 40 minutes.

The La Historia is my fave Carrillo blend. The E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017 is a close second. This new version of an older blend is major. It has all the first principles of a fine boutique blend. This does not taste like your average catalog cigar. This is special.

The E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017 is putting a big smile on my puss. The last couple of reviews were disappointments…so it is highly desirable to smoke something great on the third try.

This will be the cigar to the gods with some serious humidor time. All hail Ernesto P.

The char line cleaned up its act at the halfway point.

Let me see what this cigar reminds me of…a soupçon of AJ, a dash of Skip Martin, a splash of Fred Rewey, and a smattering of Foundation Cigar.

Smoke time is one hour 5 minutes.

Strength is about to hit full tilt. Yet the smoothness of the blend is not affected. Hallucinations have not begun yet.

The blast of flavors begins in earnest…no pun intended.

Both red and black pepper are soaring. My eyes are watering and my tongue is numb.

Chocolate, malts, creaminess, espresso, molasses, honeysuckle, a surprise of lemon zest, marzipan, cedar, caramel, a deeply religious tobacco earthiness, freshly buttered crusty bread, and an array of raisins.

The tobacco is its own headliner. It is oozing with rich earthiness and a long finish that makes my head spin.

No nicotine.

The E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017 is storming the beaches firing away spewing a most complex array of wonderful elements.

I’d love to have a box of these cigars. Look for specials when the cigar is released this month…then; no hesitation on your part. Spend the mortgage money. Steal the dough from your kid’s piggy bank. Make your pets walk the street in a bad part of town. Whatever it takes.

I’m suckling on this cigar like a newborn babe on his mother’s bosom.

Speaking of which, Charlotte and I babysit our 3 month old grandson while our daughter works. And she pumps breast milk. Feeding the kid is always messy. And til now, I had no idea that breast milk is sticky. I have refrained from tasting it because it seems wrong in so many ways.

The blend morphs into the richest chocolate malted I’ve tasted in ages.

The sweet factors are making me hungry. The citrus counter balances those luscious dessert flavors beautifully.

The E.P. Carrillo Elenco 2017 is killer.

Final smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.



And now for something completely different:
A Primer on Producing Artists…Or..The Fool on the Hill.

I owned a recording studio in Long Beach, CA back in the early 80’s. It was all analog back then. We used a giant recording machine that was reel to reel and used 3” wide tape. We managed to buy the recorder from Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. Heider used that very machine to record Jimi, Janis, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and a million other 60’s icons. We paid $800 for it in 1982. And it was already 20 years old.

The 3” wide tape was very expensive. A roll cost $180. I don’t remember how many feet were on each roll. And if we ran it at 30ips, the tape lasted only an hour. We, of course, made the clients pay for the tape, but we never gave it to them. We would just record over it. We also had a pricing scale that it cost this much if you wanted the fast 30ips or this much if you wanted the slower 15 ips. Of course, the 30ips, being faster, recorded a more true to life sound. It was all bullshit because the magic occurred in the mixing and producing.

If a group insisted on buying the tape, we would sell it to them for $250. And then made a run to Hollywood to buy 3 or 4 more. We eventually got the tape cheaper as we became return customers.

Strangely, in a town (Long Beach) of more than 500,000 people, we were only one of two recording studios in the city. And the other studio was a dump. So we got a lot of business. Plus we advertised every week in those counter culture newspapers. We would always buy the entire back page.

I had an engineer while I produced the session. I was able to work the board perfectly but I needed to focus on what was being recorded and help the artists get their best performance possible. Having done sessions, played in Curved Air, and mentored by one of the greatest producers of all time: Rick Tunstall, I had the knack. So word went out there was a new hired gun in town and people asked for me to produce them. At an extra charge of course. Bands that didn’t have a pot to piss in, I did for free.

But some assholes would come in, swaggering and sashaying with a wad of money in their hands. We made sure to get all of it.

My great mentor, Rick Tunstall, taught me everything about producing. I would get taken aside by a singer or a guitarist and told that no one had been able to get a performance out of them like I did. This made me very happy. Not just for my ego, but it was gratifying to help another artist get what they heard in their head. It didn’t matter if I liked their music; I wanted a fine product coming from our studio. Word of mouth was a big deal for us.

Over the years, I produced thousands of groups…all kinds…you name it…from punk bands to an orchestral harp player to string quartets and everything in between.

We also got a lot of radio commercial work and I never got involved because it was usually a radio DJ with a project and they deemed themselves the producer. And didn’t want my help; although, after hearing their finished project, I believe they would have been smarter taking my help.

And then there were the pop or rock acts that thought they were smarter than me and insisted on producing. Every single time, it was a disaster. My engineer, Dave, kept his mouth shut and let them dig their own grave. It would usually end up with more money for us because they would end up re-doing the session. After they finished their debacle, I would play them things I produced and they, begrudgingly, agreed to allow me to produce their project. And everyone was happy at the end. Back then, we only charged $35 an hour.

Often, I would have to use the Phil Spector method. Something Tunstall taught me. This means getting rough with one or more musicians who weren’t on top of their game. Recording is nothing like playing live where playing a clam now and again didn’t matter. In a recording session, one had to discipline themselves so they could play the exact same thing over and over again. Some of the best players around choked in the studio. They couldn’t handle the pressure. It is very intimidating being the only person in the studio, doing an over dub, while a gaggle of people looked on from the booth. More often than not, I had to bring in player buddies who knew how to record. This really caused a lot if ill feeling in the band. But they wanted a great finished product so they conceded. Not to mention, they had to pay an outsider.

There were times that frustration came into play. I would leave the booth and enter the recording studio area. This always intimidated the players. I would take one aside and yell at him with a big pep talk. I was yelling. I got them mad. Mad is good. It fires up the adrenaline and with enough pep talks, the players came through playing what they were supposed to, plus more. I tried easy cajoling first, but sometimes getting rough was the only way. And it was their money and I wanted them to get the most out of it.

After the session, the band would be packing up and Dave and I would focus on one song. We would hurriedly mix it so we would have something to show the players when they finished packing and entered the booth. They always wanted to produce their own songs. But by doing one song for them, it kept the number of self-proclaimed producers down. Most of the time, they were very impressed with what Dave and I did for them and allowed us to mix their tunes by ourselves. More $$$ for us. We would shuffle them out of the studio and then mix their songs. Then invite them back the next day to hear the finished product. We saw a lot of big smiles.

There were no DVD’s back then so the finished product was delivered on a two track reel. Basically, it was a stereo recording of their music.

We were ruthless about money. We bullied the bands so they would have to transfer the reel to cassettes or have them pressed into vinyl. We could copy the reel to cassettes with a myriad of copy machines in the studio. Lots of customers came to us merely to make a thousand cassette copies.

During the recording studio period, my ear was the best it ever was in all of my playing days. The amount of focus required, hearing every detail and nuance of a song takes a lot of concentration.

As a result, I got hired out to do bands’ sound for live shows. We would use their equipment and all I had to do was show up. I sat behind the board and did a sound check with them getting all their sounds.

I had a real knack for getting a big drum sound. I steered the drums into a John Bonham sound. BIG! The bands really liked that. And of course, as a bassist myself, I made sure the bass was way out front.

I miss those days. But life moves on and technology changed drastically only a few years later. No one records using analog any longer. Everything is done using computers. I’ve even emailed my bass parts to friends living across the country. I believe a lot is lost by not having that personal touch of working with other musicians.

So while the bedroom guitarist could produce something equally as good as my studio could, the only thing lacking was the Phil Spector syndrome telling them they can do better.

I found out during this time that McCartney did the same thing I did when laying down a bass line. A band would come in needing a bass player and I got a lot of session gigs this way.

But I was too busy producing to play at the same time. So I’d come in around 11pm and stay all night in a dim booth with my bass and the equipment. I could play the shit out of a song because I could fix it and do it again until it was perfect. During the latter days of Beatles recordings, McCartney did the same exact thing. This allowed him to come up with some of the most beautiful melodic bass lines every written.

And of course, I loved the solitude. I’d have a small amount of toot there. A doob that I would take small hits from during the night. And no fear. I was alone. I could fuck up a hundred times and only need to play it right once.

But I experimented with my bass lines. I tried to think like McCartney. Providing bass riffs that the band would never have thought of.

Those were fun days. Working 7 days a week sometimes 12-15 hours per day. You need to be young to do this. Now as a senior, I’d need naps.

With all the technology today, every serious musician has his own home studio. A lucky few have a vision that they can put into play. For others, it’s fun but goes nowhere.




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3 replies

  1. Thanks for the review and stories. Your writing puts a smile one my face (The self depreciation, comic sense and brutal honesty). You are the only one who writes reviews this way and I appreciate it. Don’t worry about people who don’t like them, it’s your world do what you want.

  2. Thank you so much Kevin. Music to my old ears.
    I figured out early that if you are going to do something, don’t be a sheep. More importantly, it is easier to just be me instead of some copywriter who melts into the crowd of other copywriters who crank out snooze fest reviews…besides, I like reliving my back in the day stories. At my age, it’s nice to remember my connection to the past.
    I find that the great majority of my readers are very smart weirdos like me. My readers are not sheep but wolves who don’t like the cigar industry bullshit anymore than I. I have a lot of pen pals and each one is stranger than me. Perfect.
    And once again, at my age, it’s easier to be honest than make shit up. And I get to do this because I’m the only big reviewer that isn’t tied to the cigar industry. So I don’t owe anyone anything…which is why manufacturers are afraid of me. They should be. Everyone underestimates me…from manufacturers to readers to online stores. I like it like that. I’ve had numerous manufacturers threaten I’d never work in the cigar industry again…Ha. Just goes to show what dumb assess some of these people are.
    I don’t know how it happened but I’ve tried to get on Carrillo’s reviewer’s list for years and all of a sudden it just happened. So props go out to the folks there. I did get a response from my review from Carrillo and here it is:
    “Thank you for the review. We at the office enjoyed it a lot!”

    So thanks for the kind words and support Kevin.
    All the best,

  3. I’m glad to hear this new (new old) stick sounds like a winner. I am an EPC fan. He makes tasty cigars, and there generally at good or reasonable price points. I totally agree with you on the La Historia. I slept on that cigar for a while because my local shop didn’t carry it, and because I was a bit burnt out on San Andres wrappers. Then I had it, and realized it tastes like no other San Andres-wrapped cigar on the planet. I just got a box in the mail last week, actually.

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