E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact Maduro | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 52
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $7.00 (As little as $4 if you shop around)

Today we take a look at the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact Maduro.
Thanks to Jeremy Shamis.

Released 2016
Regular production
According to Cigar Coop:
“As a part of E.P. Carrillo’s portfolio revamping, the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal line has undergone some changes. For starters, the line is now being called the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact. The line has now become an all box-pressed offering. In addition, the cigars have received new banding and new packaging. The Cardinal Impact made its official debut at the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show..

“Like before, the Cardinal Impact is offered in a Natural or Maduro offering. The Cardinal Impact Natural features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. Meanwhile the Cardinal Impact Maduro features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler.

“The line has been streamlined to three box-pressed sizes. Each is packaged in 20 count boxes. The box-press sizes replaced the rounded parejos that were a part of the original Cardinal Impact line.

No. 52: 5 x 52 $7.00
No. 54: 6 x 54 $8.00
No. 56: 5.5 x 56 $7.50

As you can see…a little light thrown on the object and it comes to life artistically. A beautifully mottled rusty chocolate brown wrapper. Seams are tight. Small and a couple large veins cover the exterior. The box press is nicely achieved and doesn’t look like a squashed round cigar. The cap is a bit on the sloppy side but that’s nitpicking. The cigar is packed solid and I worry about the draw. My cigar is supposed to be 6” long but is only 5-1/2” long. That’s poor quality control or a screw up in the copywriting phase from EPC.

From the shaft, I can smell dinner….floral notes, coffee, malt, chocolate, sweet factors such as dark toffee, solid creaminess, hot cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, cedar, barnyard, slight touch of salted nuts, and my beloved earth, wind, and leather.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell buttermilk, caramel, malts, dark chocolate, espresso, strong black pepper, blazing cinnamon and nutmeg, cedar, barnyard, grass, all sorts of nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts.

The cold draw presents flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, lots of malt, barnyard, cedar, salted pretzel, creaminess, black pepper, and black licorice.

I’ve got a plug behind the cigar cap…and yes again…I bring out my PerfecDraw cigar poker and clean out the area quickly. I know I shill for this tool a lot but it is because I believe it is the single greatest cigar accessory to hit the market since 80 ring gauge guillotine cutters. Know the last time I had an 80 ring gauge in my mouth? I didn’t think so. It was 1971 at Riker’s Island. I shall stick to the smaller cigars thank you.

Batter up….lots of creamy chocolate cocoa, a roundhouse of cappuccino, black pepper, cedar, big doses of malt, sweetness…toffee and caramel…and a very rich marzipan log. Then the savory elements stand nearby: smoky, meaty, pulled pork, and peanuts.

There isn’t much complexity on the table. Transitions are minimal. And the finish is anemic. And I have burn issues that need some touch ups.

I find that most EPC blends are very old school in that the approach to blending their cigars is they all need months and months of humidor time. This ain’t no AJ blend. Or an Isabela, Southern Draw, or Bespoke blend either. But then I find that most EPC blends have an expiration date so one must be vigilant about their caretaking. I never leave the cellos on my sticks because I never have enough cigars to allow them the time to sit and hibernate for 7 months. Therefore, I’ve found I’ve wasted more EPC blends than is really necessary because of constant trial and error in determining when the blend is ready to be enjoyed as Carrillo intended.

Strength is a touch above medium…soon on its way to medium/full.

The char line issues seem to have dissipated to my satisfaction. The Centerfire Cigar Rest I use keeps the cigar totally upright enhancing its chances; no matter how slim, of correcting and producing a perfect long ash.

I think it was at Famous Smoke I saw that the sticks were going for $4 instead of $7 for the Robusto. That price seems about right.

It is as if complexity is being held at bay by tough guys with tasers. It just won’t kick in. This blend either needs 6-8 months humi time or it is just another inexpensive, typical EPC catalog brand…which means this is it…you get what you get.
It started nicely with all those wonderful flavors only to go flat as the second third begins.

Smoke time is 25 minutes.

Things perk up. Complexity begins its ascent. Transitions show up for the first time. And the finish isn’t bad.
Creaminess, chocolate, malt, espresso, and sweet elements are breaking on through to the other side.
A smile finally emerges. What I should expect from this blend at some point has arrived. No shit but this first third was so inconsistent, I feared I was heading towards crapping on another cigar blend…in writing. But there is redemption on the horizon.

Janis. “Summertime.” Wow. I was rehearsing with Curved Air at their Covent Garden rehearsal space during the fall of 1974. I didn’t know the tunes and since I was rehearsing with the original band members; not all the new replacements that had occurred over the last few years, I was nervous as hell as they were all classically trained musicians. And then there was me. As they had played the song list a million times, they spent most of our precious rehearsal time downing tea and biscuits. In walks a bassist who takes out his paisley painted Telecaster bass and begins to change the strings. I was playing with the guys while Sonja Kristina was talking to this guy. I was introduced to this fella who was an original member of Big Brother & the Holding Company. He knew Sonja and just dropped by. I thought I was being fired after one week. Hey, I fell into this after only 2 weeks in London and I was only 24. My first big break.

The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact Maduro is a very nice blend. Not a big splash but a good every day cigar. Especially if you can nail them at $4 or less. I’m not sure I’d spend $7. In fact, the cigars came in a little sampler pack of 5 different EPC blends at $20 so there you go: $4.00.

The complexity comes and goes. But the flavor intensity is at a decent level. But trailed by weak transitions and a black pepper finish.
The solid pack of tobacco slows down the experience quite dramatically.
Strength is medium/full.

I believe this might be a different cigar with another month or two on it. I can taste its potential but only in fleeting glances. There is a very good cigar underneath this early attempt at discovering what it’s got.
The halfway point is here at the 50 minute mark.
Not much to report.

There is an excellent blend in here dying to get out. Or not. I just reviewed two phenomenal blends that got scored at a perfect 100: The Southern Draw Kudzu 2018 and the Bespoke Club Mareva Spalato. Writing about those cigar blends was an act of unadulterated joy.

Notes of creaminess, malt, black pepper, cocoa, and espresso with a touch of generic sweetness dominate.

Except for the La Historia, I gotta be honest…I’m not a big fan of EPC blends. I don’t understand. Carrillo is one of the most respected blenders with an incredible past. Yet he seems to settle for putting out a stream of unremarkable catalog brands that do nothing for me. I don’t get it. It’s as if he only markets to those sitting on the pot reading their cigar catalogs.

I don’t think that EPC mild bodied cigars; there are a lot of them…are very good. But then I’m not a mild strength kind of guy. What’s the point? A cigar should be an excellent experience every time…not just something to kill time with.

There is some improvement. Actually, a big improvement that comes out of nowhere. Flavors get a real kick in the arse. Bold and beautiful now. So it took the second half for the E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact Maduro to throw away its training wheels.

Now…I’m impressed. Remember the purpose of the Nub brand? The Sweet Spot right from the very start. I’ve not found this to be true. But I do find that many, many blends don’t begin to look for that sweet spot til the second half. Very typical…unfortunately.

I know a lot of guys that might have tossed this cigar before it found the blender’s intent.
Now it’s a pulsating, living organism…like my first wife.
This is how I’d hoped the cigar would have started. It would have made a huge difference in my rating. But half a cigar wasted to get to the good point will hurt it.
Strength is now full tilt.

Transitions are OK. The finish is only black pepper. Yet the complexity is doing a nice job even though the flavor profile is limited.
The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact Maduro hangs its hat on its extreme creaminess, malts, cedar, fruity sweetness, and small touches of chocolate and coffee.
The cigar tastes exactly like a Nic puro. No surprises on what to expect. But done well nevertheless.

Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.

The E.P. Carrillo Cardinal Impact Maduro is pretty damn good now. There are hints of the La Historia lurking in the background. The cigar needs lots of humidor time. I firmly believe that an extended hibernation period will make a big difference. But it and forget about it.

Thankfully, the music cable channel is playing some Zep to lift my spirits. My friends and I saw Zep every time they came to L.A. back in the early 70’s. Best live arena performances I’ve ever seen. And each time, watching John Paul Jones play bass made me want to go home and burn mine.

The last third takes off from its docile beginnings into something quite enjoyable.
The blend has totally morphed from a listless thing to a nicely blended cigar.

If you are an EPC fan, you will like this cigar as long as you pay it respect by allowing it to rest til your next birthday.

Sometimes, I show the rating by its first half and then its second half. I’m not going to do that today. An average will work just fine with me giving the cigar the benefit of the doubt to my inability to wait for months. But then with only one cigar to review, it is difficult to decide when it is ready to smoke.

It wasn’t Famous that had them for $4. It is Atlantic Cigar. Everyone else wants the MSRP price point.
Writing this review did not incur the happy dance. But they all can’t be winners.
Final smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.


And now for something completely different:
Normally, Curved Air headlined in all the arenas in England and Europe. But once in a while, we got to be the support act for a giant band of that era…the 1960’s-1970.
For one of those tours, we supported Emerson, Lake and Palmer for 4 gigs.
The first time we did sound check on that bill, I got a wild hair. Keith Emerson had a full sized grand piano that was mechanically fixed so it would do 360 ° roll….with Keith on it. Head over heels.

I asked Keith if I could ride the piano. He laughed and said no one had ever asked to do that in any of the support groups they played with, so I felt honored as I climbed aboard. I guess no one asked because they didn’t want to vomit on his piano.

To my horror, the only way you hang on is with your feet locked underneath a special bar on the bench. No seat belt holds you in place.
The piano began to roll. Slowly at first, and then faster and faster. I grabbed the keyboard like a cat. I was completely disoriented.
Now I’m spinning like crazy and scared for my life and assumed I would be jettisoned like a rocket…meanwhile, Keith would play while doing it. ????

After a few minutes, the piano slowed its roll and I was able to get off and then fell flat on my face on the stage from being dizzy.

I asked Keith how in the hell he did that while playing. He laughed. He saw that my face must have been green and took me to the bathroom in the arena, where he helped me to a stall where I threw up.

Each day we played with them, Keith asked me, like clockwork, if I wanted to ride the piano again? All the while laughing while asking. I politely declined.

I had some Cubans that Larry Coryell, the incredible father of jazz fusion guitar, had given me. And on the last night of playing with them, I asked Keith if he would like to join me for a smoke? His eyes lit up and we retired to his posh hotel room where he allowed no one else in, but me. He ordered some lavish room service and we spent the night eating, drinking and smoking cigars. It doesn’t get much better than that.

And now for something completely different PART 2:
A couple weeks ago, Tippi Hedren was on “60 Minutes.” She told, for the first time, her story about sexual abuse she received from Alfred Hitchcock. I have known this since the late 80’s when I worked for her husband.

I was working for a small construction company (Bartec) of maybe 20 people in the office and another 80 in the field. We fabricated and installed structural steel. I was senior project manager. And I had another PM working for me.
The owner was one of those entrepreneurial guys that not only owned this company, but another dozen possessions included a strip club and some very fancy restaurants.
He was Errol Flynn dashing. I wanted to have sex with him…and I’m straight.

He was married to Tippi Hedren (“The Birds”) who considered hubby an ATM machine. She had an animal preserve somewhere in Orange County whose main mission was to save lions. Tippi’s license plate said, “ROAR.”

Now of course you know that Melanie Griffith is her daughter. And back in ’86, Melanie was a real looker. She hadn’t married Don Johnson yet, but was married to the actor Steven Bauer…of Al Pacino “Scarface” fame.

I remember them visiting the shop many times so they could pick up step dad and go to the “Club” for lunch.
I was one of two project managers and we were upstairs by ourselves next to the company kitchen…
I remember his name: Luis Barrenechea. We called him Lou.

Anyway, Lou would come upstairs around 2 PM after his lunch with the Tippi, Melanie, and Steven. And he would sit there with a bottle of vodka he kept in the kitchen freezer and get shit faced all afternoon bemoaning his status in life and all the ways that Tippi was draining him of dough. Since there were only two of us up there, he vented like a mother futter. And we couldn’t concentrate for shit. Once, the other PM couldn’t take it any longer. Lou would get so animated that the more he drank the more difficult it became having a phone conversation.

So the PM asked Lou to keep it down so we could do our jobs. Well, that was the wrong thing to do. Lou exploded. He fired the guy on the spot.

The PM went downstairs and told the GM what happened. The GM told him to go home for the day and come back tomorrow. And not to worry. He still had his job.

That did not work out well for me. I got dragged into the kitchen and Lou poured me a drinking glass full of vodka. It was mid-afternoon. And I don’t drink. He went on spewing dirt on Tippi to the point I became very uncomfortable. He even told me she wasn’t that good of a lay. And that’s why he had a couple cupcakes on the side. Oh lord.
One day, we engineers got an assignment. Alfred Hitchcock had made sexual moves on Tippi often, but without success, or so we heard from Tippi.

At the end of the movie, Hitch gave Tippi one of the first portable radios. It was the size of a car battery. This was due to the 10lb battery running the show. And it had long ago stopped working. We had never seen a battery that looked like this one.

So, the other PM, the purchasing agent, and I were given the task of figuring out how to replace the long dead battery and make this piece of junk work. We were told it was our number one priority while our projects went to shit.

We spent two solid days on the phone, all 3 of us; and we got nowhere. When we saw Tippi in Lou’s office at the end of those 2 days, we talked to her about our fruitless efforts and all we got was a perfunctory, “Boys. You can do better than that. I am counting on you. This was a gift from my dear friend Alfred Hitchcock and I want the GODDAMM radio to work. You got me, boys?”

Now we knew why Lou drank himself stupid in the afternoons. What a bitch on wheels.

I remember when Melanie visited. She and Steven would be hanging waiting for mom and step-pop to get going so they could get the hell outta’ there.

I got the balls one day and introduced myself. Both were very gracious, unlike their mom.
I, of course, bragged about my Curved Air days to them…and they were impressed. The Police was still together and I told my tales of hanging with them at gigs. Which was true.

After that, Steven would come up to engineering and talk to me about rock n roll. This guy really knew his stuff; a true musicologist and we had a great time. Work stopped and the other PM was thrilled to be a part of it. Melanie would always come upstairs and drag him out of engineering but then she got caught up in the stories too. We did a lot of laughing that disturbed the worker bees downstairs.

We would hear Tippi clunking her way upstairs to see what the holdup was. She had no interest in rock n roll and since engineering let her down over that stupid radio, she wanted no part of us.

I only worked there for about a year and then moved on to work for my father’s newly opened construction company.
I fondly remember the times when Melanie Griffith would always give me a kiss and a hug when she left….and a time when Bauer thought I was cool too.
Now, I’m just plain washed up and not very cool. Time marches on.

One last anecdote just popped into my head…
About 6 months after I left Bartec, I was driving down Harbor Blvd. in Fullerton. I stop at a red light and the big Mercedes in front of me had a personalized license plate that said “ROAR.”
Oh shit! It’s Tippi!

I jumped out of my car and ran up to Tippi’s window. The look of horror in her eyes was way worse than it ever was in “The Birds.”
I asked her to roll down the window but she wouldn’t and she also didn’t want to run the light.
I tell her I’m Phil Kohn and worked at Bartec. “Don’t you remember me? I tried to fix Hitchcock’s radio for you.”

She looked really scared and I realized she felt threatened so I ran back to my car.
She took off like Mario Andretti.
Speaking of which…when I was 16 and had only been driving for a couple months when I hit a 2 year old girl.
I had just left the house of a friend and was still in his neighborhood. The little girl ran out between two cars and BANG!
I could feel her body hit the front of my 1960 Pontiac Bonneville. For a few seconds, I couldn’t move. Then I jumped out of the car.

I screamed for help and people showed up in droves. The mother grabbed her child and lifted her and placed her on the lawn of their house. The kid was unconscious and I was screaming at her not to move her.
The ambulance shows up. The cops show up. A massive crowd showed up. I was 16 and had my first panic attack.

The cops made me sit there for an hour, on the curb, while they did their forensics and determined that I was only going 20mph.
They let me go without a ticket and I drove straight home.

My dad was out front doing his gardening. As I passed him on the way to the front door, I said, “I just ran over a little girl.”
Nothing. My dad didn’t even look up.

I spent the next two hours lying on my bed staring at the ceiling.

The next day, I went to the hospital with my best friend. The little girl was in traction and bandaged like the Mummy. I had bought her a teddy bear. No one from the family was there so the nurse asked if I’d like to let them know who brought the gift?
Before I could answer, my buddy said, “Tell them Mario Andretti was here.”
I almost shit myself.

The little girl recovered. This was over 50 years ago and I can still replay those moments a nano second at a time in my head.
A year later, I left that same friend’s house and saw that girl; now 3 a year old playing in the middle of the street by herself.
I shook my head and thought this girl doesn’t stand a chance with parents like hers.
Mario Andretti…fuck me.


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1 reply

  1. Thanks for your review brother just wanted to express my jubliance at acquiring a box of those Kadzu 2018 which will be here by next week,,, Spend a lovely time talking to Sharon, just a wonderful woman to talk you.. So thank you and Please BOTL get your Kadzu 2018 before it’s over….. Can’t wait to try it…


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