EPC Pledge Prequel. A little over a year ago, a new cigar from Ernesto Perez Carrillo hit the market. The EPC Pledge. It is part of the Perez-Carrillo series, a series where the generations before Ernesto Perez Carrillo jr are honored. The other cigars in the series are the critically acclaimed Encore and La Historia. “With each sample of the six different blends for Pledge I worked on, I asked myself, ‘Is this cigar worthy to follow La Historia and Encore?” said Perez-Carrillo in a press release. “And I was very pleased when I found the one.”
The cigar comes from Perez-Carrillo’s factory in the Dominican Republic, La Alianza. For the blend, the cigar industry legend uses a Connecticut-grown Habano wrapper over an Ecuadorian binder. The filler is all Nicaraguan. For now, there are only two vitolas available. Those are the Prequel, a 5×50 Robusto, and the 6×52 Sojourn. The prequel became the #1 cigar of Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 of 2020.
Let’s start with the box, deep blue with a beautiful tattoo style print. But when you open the box up is when the magic happens. The cigars, one row of ten pieces, lay on blue fabric, creating a very luxurious presentation. The cigars come in cellophane with a ‘cigar aficionado cigar of the year 2020, rated 98’ sticker on the foot. The foot ring is gold color fabric. Then there are two blue rings. The top one has different types of blue, with gold and white while the secondary ring mentions Perez Carrillo in clear white letters. Just in looks and packaging, this cigar looks great. The wrapper is oily, and Colorado Maduro in color. The oil gives it a shine like it’s lacquered. The cigar itself is a soft box-pressed with a fairly round head. It is leathery to the touch, but without noticeable plugs. The aroma is strong. Chocolate, barnyard, and the smell of horses.
The cold draw is fine. There is a mild spicy hay flavor with cinnamon. The first puffs are leathery and earthy. Those flavors remain for a while, but with some dark roast coffee and dark chocolate as supporting flavors. The chocolate turns more into cocoa, with a dry mouthfeel. And it gets stronger as well. There is an earthy flavor in the retrohale. Slowly some spice and pepper show up as well. The cocoa remains with some toast and a little bit of natural sweetness. The flavors so far would pair well with a dark stout, such as Guinness. Halfway the cigar gets too strong to retrohale pleasantly. There is still cocoa, pepper is growing and there is some acidity. The flavors are mild creamy. There is also some cedar and a spicy flavor that comes close to smoked paprika. There is a caramel-like sweetness in the aftertaste with a strong pepper, almost like chili padi, or bird’s eye chili as it’s called in the United States. But the chili isn’t overpowering, the rest of the flavors, especially the cocoa and earthiness keep it in check. There is a mild peanut flavor as well. A little more sweetness and acidity, with creaminess. Cocoa is the dominant flavor from start to finish. The peanut flavor gains some strength. The end is that earthiness again, with cocoa, peanuts, and green herbs.
The draw is great. And the natural oils in the wrapper make this cigar very smoky. Thick white smoke. The burn is straight. The ash is medium in color. It isn’t very firm, this isn’t a cigar for a long ash contest. This cigar is full in both body and flavor, with an intense start. The palate is quite unusual and you can taste that this cigar is made with well-aged tobacco. The smoke time is two hours and forty-five minutes.
Would I buy this cigar again? Yes. Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of EPC cigars, but this one is very enjoyable.