Federal Cigar in New Hampshire has been on quite the tear in recent years when it comes to high profile store exclusives made by prominent manufacturers, and 2014 was no exception.
On October 31, news broke that there would be a third installment in the store’s series of cigars made by E.P. Carrillo, the Medalla d’Noche. Its name means medal of night and it’s billed as the strongest of the three EPC releases for Federal, the other two being the Medalla d’Oro and Medalla d’Platino.
- E.P. Carrillo Federal 92nd Anniversary Medalla d’Oro (6 1/2 x 44) — March 2013 — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- E.P. Carrillo Medalla d’Platino (6 1/2 x 44) — November 2014 — 250 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
- E.P. Carrillo Medalla d’Noche (6 1/2 x 44) — December 2014 — 250 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
In addition to being the third store exclusive from E.P. Carrillo, it’s also the third store exclusive that Federal Cigar has released this year, joining the Headley Grange Snaredrum and Oliva Federal Cigar 93rd Anniversary Reserve No. 2.
For this release, the broadleaf wrapper adds strength to the blend, which uses a ligero-enhanced filler that is based on the E.P. Carrillo Short Run blend. It continues the trend of making one tweak to create a new blend; in the case of the Medalla d’Platino, for instance, the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper on the Medalla d’Oro was replaced with the same corojo wrapper found on the INCH C-99.
While the blend has been tweaked among the three releases, the size has stayed the same—a 6 1/2 x 44 lonsdale—as have the ten-count boxes, though the colors of the boxes have changed, in this case looking reminiscent of the black boxes used for the E.P. Carrillo Core Line.
- Cigar Reviewed: E.P. Carrillo Medalla d’Noche
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
- Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 44
- Vitola: Lonsdale
- MSRP: $8.75 (Boxes of 10, $87.50)
- Release Date: December 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
While just a few years ago a cigar half-sheathed in gold would be a really unique presentation, but after a few other releases that use a similar presentation it feels much more familiar. Once removed, it reveals a wrapper that is an earthy, meaty brown with some nice variations in color to give it depth and texture, enhanced by a few veins and some tooth. The color variance can be particularly noted on the cap and makes the term that much more fitting, with the tight and knobby pigtail cap reminiscent of a bobble hat, complete with an incredibly even cap line. There’s a little bit of give to the first cigar and it could even be described as soft at certain points, though subsequent sticks had spots that I would describe as firm, making the range a bit wider than expected. The pre-light aroma is rich and complex with notes of tree bark, tobacco barn and sweet earth, while the cold draw, which is just a touch firm, is a bit more subdued and picks up a slight milk chocolate candy bar flavor.
I love the rich, meaty notes that come of the cigar while I’m toasting the foot; they’re not heavy but they have gravitas and make a solid first impression. While I wouldn’t say the Medalla D’Noche has an explicit note of coffee in it, I’m finding the flavors creating a similar mouth feel to what I get from that first cup in the morning; rich and slightly earthy with touches of wood and no prominent pepper. The draw errs on the firm side early on, nothing problematic but noticeable, while the burn line slowly reveals ash that it just slightly gray. After the first clump of ash breaks off, I start to pick up more pepper on the retrohale, but there’s a bit for the tongue as well. In the nose I also get a near perfect cocoa powder note that is dry and slightly sweet, almost as if I was smelling the powder itself. Through the first third, the cigar has burned well and sits at medium-full in terms of flavor and body but at best medium in strength. The first third begins the handoff with a tangy note that has a pinch of red chili flakes in the nose with tree bark and earth on the tongue, another complex series of puffs that are giving the cigar some defining moments.
There are some subtle changes that happen throughout the second third of the E.P. Carrillo Medalla D’Noche, though it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what they are. There’s no huge hit of pepper that comes along, no blast of sweetness; rather it’s an occasional nudge towards more earthiness, then a sidestep towards tanginess, then back to putting the wood forward before they all come together in complex harmony and begin the choreography again. At a certain level it’s an exercise in delivering a consistent flavor because if the mind wanders it’s easy to miss it, while with focused attention you can easily pick out the moves. There are some puffs around the midpoint that see the pepper start to wake up, particularly in the retrohale, that begin a steady building of that particular component. Strength is slowly beginning to increase and begins climbing past medium, while flavor and body are medium-plus and haven’t taken a break to this point.
The start of the final third introduces more pepper and some chalk to the flavor and aroma, bringing about a much more pointed aspect to the cigar, with a touch of dry wood joining in to help the cause. It’s here when I see the strength of the cigar take a step forward, bringing it closer to the levels that the flavor and body had been operating at for the previous sections. The texture and character of the smoke also changes, becoming a bit less hearty and robust, thinning out and sharpening up a touch, though there are a few points where a pungent barnyard aroma wafts from the cigar and shows that it hasn’t completely abandoned its heavier beginning. There’s just the slightest bit of harshness in the final puffs as the proximity of the cherry to the head of the cigar seems to be having some adverse affects, and it’s time to put the Medalla D’Noche down with just about an inch left.
- I mentioned that there are a few other cigars that use the gold half-sheath style, off the top of my head there’s the Cuban Bolivar Gold Medal, the Dominican Bolivar D’Oro, Illusione’s Cruzado Marelas Supremas, and a previous E.P. Carrillo release for Federal Cigar, the 92nd Anniversary Medalla d’Oro.
- The E.P. Carrillo Medalla d’Platino used a silver piece of foil.
- I left the band on the cigar only for the purposes of the photographs. It’s possible if you hold on to it while pulling the foil off, though it does require a bit of finesse. Otherwise I would just take the band off; since it covers the foil, it’s a bit big for the cigar and as such tends to slide around.
- The New Hampshire Business Review recently wrote about Federal Cigar’s renovations.
- When it comes to getting a consistent spelling of this cigar’s name, it was one of the most frustrating that I can recall. It seems to stem from the stylization of the d’ and noche; I’ve seen all combinations of capitals and lowercases, spaces and no spaces.
- Federal Cigar also received a box of the highly-coveted Quesada España Ninfa in March 2014.
- The store has already teased the first release in its 94th anniversary celebration series.
- The list of cigars that Federal Cigar has received in recent years is incredibly impressive, and besides the ones already mentioned, includes the El Centurion Toria, My Father Special F, Tatuaje Exclusive Series Federal Cigar 90th Anniversary 109 Redux, My Father Le Bijou 1922 Grand Robusto, My Father Federal Le Bijou Connecticut Edition Petit Robusto, My Father Le Bijou 1922 Federal Cigar 91st Cervantes Connecticut, My Father Le Bijou 1922 Federal Cigar 91st Cervantes Maduro and Tatuaje Federal Cigar 90th Anniversary 109 Reserva. There have also been a host of Liga Privada and other Drew Estate prototypes previewed at the store, as well as plethora of special Fuentes as part of the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation action the store has hosted.
- Final smoking time was just over one hour and 35 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- You can order the E.P. Carrillo Medalla d’Noche from Federal Cigar here or by calling 877.424.4270. Be sure to tell them halfwheel sent you.
Having not smoked the other two releases in this series it’s impossible for me to compare them, but on its own the E.P. Carrillo Medalla d’Noche is a fantastic cigar that is loaded with complexity, plenty of flavor, a balanced amount of strength and nearly perfect technical performance. I’m hard pressed to find anything particularly off-putting about the cigar, with the slight sharpness of the final third about the only thing I would say I could have done without. Even with that, this is a fantastic cigar that I had a hard time putting down.