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E.P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel Cigar Review

E.P. Carrillo Pledge General Info

  • Price: $10.75
  • Made By: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Factory Location: Dominican Republic
  • Dimensions: 5” by 50 ring gauge
  • Shape: Robusto
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Binder: Ecuadorian
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Havana Seed Connecticut)
  • Cold Draw: Coffee Beans, Black Cherry, Light Black Pepper, Cocoa
  • First Third: Baking Spices, Black Cherry, Cocoa, Cedar, Coffee Beans, Black Pepper
  • Second Third: Black Pepper, Licorice, Hay, Leather, Dark Chocolate, Cedar, Cocoa
  • Final Third: Licorice, Black pepper, Dark Chocolate, Creamy Cedar, Cocoa

Appearance

The first thing to catch my eye with the E.P. Carrillo Pledge cigar, besides the dark chocolate brown wrapper, is the branding. On the primary band, various shades of blue intertwine with hues of gold and white. Directly below this band, we have a secondary band with “Perez Carrillo” in all white, all caps. 

Turn the cigar around, and the backside of the primary band reveals two females. One is the daughter of master blender Ernesto Perez Carrillo Jr., and the other is his mother. This unique band caught my interest right away, not unlike that of the primary band on the Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9. Finally, a luxurious gold-colored footer band completes the overall look of this premium cigar.

It’s safe to say that this stogie, named 2020’s Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado, is covered in class long before we even inspect the wrapper. But before we examine that leaf, we need to recognize the incredible 98 point rating the E.P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel received from Cigar Aficionado. They called out notes like spicy oak, licorice, black cherry, and black pepper. I can’t wait to see if my palate agrees. 

I take a close look at the wrapper and note a few noticeable veins, but nothing major. This cigar has a good deal of oil to it and is firm to touch. The stogie is box pressed like the Padron 1926 Series No. 1 Maduro cigar, so the stick should deliver an easy draw and slow burn with consistent flavors.

Taste & Draw

The E.P. Carrillo Pledge cigar is a medium to full bodied smoke with a razor-sharp burn and a seemingly perfect draw. The smoke is creamy and chewy, and while the multitude of flavors makes for an intriguing, complex smoke, this masterfully blended cigar remains well balanced.

The cigar’s primary notes are black pepper, cocoa, and licorice, although supporting notes like baking spices pop in and out throughout the smoke. It’s of little surprise that this is such a fine smoke. I’m not sure what it takes to rate higher than a 98 because this stick seems about as close to perfection as they come.

Cold Draw 

Coffee Beans, Black Cherry, Light Black Pepper, Cocoa

Jumping right into the cold draw, the first note I pick up is coffee beans, not unlike those in the Bolivar Belicosos Finos Cuban cigar. Not far behind those, I’m getting some lovely black cherry notes. I take another cold pull, and hay enters the picture along with light black pepper. Beyond that, I’m tasting cocoa. 

It’ll be interesting to see which of these cold draw flavors carries on to the smoke show. Let’s get a torch involved and find out. 

First Third

Baking Spices, Black Cherry, Cocoa, Cedar, Coffee Beans, Black Pepper

Perez Carillo Pledge first third

Once burning, I can instantly tell why the E.P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel won Cigar of the Year. The creamy, chewy smoke is filled with complex flavors from the jump. Within the first few puffs, I’m tasting baking spices, black cherry, and cocoa. All of these are well defined and firmly established. 

I smoke a little further, and a cedar note emerges. It reminds me of the same note in the Fuente Fuente Opus X Lost City cigar. I’m also tasting coffee beans, hay, and light black pepper from the cold draw, though the pepper has picked up some steam. Often notes from the cold draw make it to the big stage but rarely do we see all of them here. Well, this is one of those glorious times. Let’s keep moving to see what comes next.

Second Third

Black Pepper, Licorice, Hay, Leather, Dark Chocolate, Cedar, Cocoa

Every irresistible pull from this cigar serves as a reminder of its 98 point rating. Moving into the second third, the black pepper is pulling ahead along with the introduction of a delightful licorice flavor. Dark chocolate and leather notes are now in the mix. The hay has faded, though it’s still fighting the good fight. The cedar is hanging in there, as is the cocoa. If I had to choose one word to describe smoking this award-winning cigar, it’d have to be “bliss.”

Carrillo Pledge Final Third

Final Third

Licorice, Black pepper, Dark Chocolate, Creamy Cedar, Cocoa

With the finish line now in sight for the medium to full bodied E.P. Carrillo Pledge cigar, I’m tasting licorice and black pepper out front. The dark chocolate note has picked up speed looking to make a name for itself in this final inning. The cedar remains, though it’s taken on a creamy element, and the cocoa from the cold draw has stayed in the ring all the way to the nub.

Perez Carillo Pledge Summary

Summary

The E.P. Carrillo Pledge cigar is packed with some of the best Nicaraguan long filler in the cigar business. Cradling these is an Ecuadorian binder. The finishing touch is a tidy U.S.A. grown Connecticut Habano wrapper. This all leads to notes like black pepper, cocoa, leather, black cherry, dark chocolate, cedar, baking spices, and more.

The cigar 100% lives up to Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Cigar of the Year title and that jaw-dropping 98 point rating. It’s a complex smoke that never gets out of hand or harsh. For those with developed palates, you can’t go wrong with this banger. Make sure to get more than a few of these gems into your humidor as soon as possible so you can share the wealth with your closest smoking friends.

E.P. Carrillo Pledge Cigar Pairing Notes

  • Old Pepper Single Barrel Rye Whiskey
  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
  • High West Campfire Whiskey
  • Jai Alai IPA
  • Coca-Cola

E.P. Carrillo Pledge Cigar History

Over four generations, Carrillo Cigars has produced some of the best smoke available. From their factory in the Dominican Republic, they have blended and released hit after hit with a trail of highly sought-after awards to back up their blending talents. 

The E.P. Carrillo Pledge cigar is the third installment in an Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. trilogy. The first two releases, La Historia and Encore Majestic, won the No. 2 cigar of 2014 and the 2018 Cigar of the Year, respectively. How one trilogy racked up the Cigar Aficionado No. 1 spot twice and the No. 2 spot once is beyond me. Clearly, this multi-generational cigar family knows more than a thing or two about blending some of the best cigars around.