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The 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show had its share of memorable moments, but one that will always stick out to me was the changes that E.P. Carrillo Cigar Co. showed off as it introduced 10 new lines and discontinued four others. The sheer number of changes to the brand was almost breathtaking, and the general feeling around the office was that it was a pace that would be impossible to keep.

It turned out that feeling was correct, as the company showed off just two new brands at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, followed by just one new brand at this year’s show.

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The newest line is INCH Ringmaster, the fifth INCH line from E.P. Carrillo. While three of the four previous INCH brands were available in the same five vitolas—namely 5 X 62, 5 7/8 X 60, 6 1/8 X 64, 7 X 70 and 8 X 58—the new INCH Ringmaster debuted at retailers in just two different sizes, both of which feature the same 64 ring gauge.

“The newest addition to E.P. Carrillo Cigars’ Dimensions Series, the INCH RINGMASTER, is a statement by Master Blender, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo that celebrates the ‘big-ring-gauge’ trend the Carrillo cigars brand helped pioneer, while also proving how bigger can indeed be better thanks to the craftsmanship and attention to detail for which the brand is known,” reads a post on the company’s website. “The name is inspired by Ernesto himself, often referred to as ‘the RINGMASTER’ for being among the first to boldly offer larger ring-gauge cigars, and then perfect the art of blending the ideal mix of tobaccos for big-ring-gauge cigars.”

In another first for the INCH brand, the new Ringmaster is the first to feature all Nicaraguan tobacco. The regular production cigars are packaged in boxes of 24 and started shipping to retailers early last month.

The INCH Ringmaster debuted in two different vitolas.

  • E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster 5 3/8 (5 3/8  x 64) — $12.50 (Boxes of 24, $300)
  • E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster 6 1/2 (6 1/2  x 64) — $14.50 (Boxes of 24, $348)

  • Cigar Reviewed: E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster 5 3/8
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 64
  • Vitola: Gordo
  • MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 24, $300)
  • Release Date: Nov. 5, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster 5 3/8 is gorgeous with a dark espresso brown wrapper that is so shiny it looks like it was doused in oil. There is tooth to the cover leaf, although it is slick to the touch due to the oil that is present. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sawdust, peanut shells, earth, manure, leather and dark chocolate while the cold draw brings flavors of sourdough bread, earth, almonds, espresso beans, hay and black pepper.

Starting out, the E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster 5 3/8 features a very noticeable almond paste sweetness on the palate that combines nicely with the dominant sourdough bread note pulled over from the cold draw, both of which are followed by flavors of cocoa nibs, gritty earth, hay, ground coffee beans and licorice. There is a good amount of black pepper on the retrohale, as well as significant spice on my tongue, both of which seem to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a shallow v-cut, but the burn is bad enough to canoe and needs a touchup almost out of the gate. The smoke production is massive off of the foot, while the overall strength starts off fairly mild and does not go very far by the time the first third comes to an end.

The almond paste sweetness does not increase very much in the second third of the INCH Ringmaster 5 3/8, while the dominant flavor remains the same sourdough bread note. Other flavors include cinnamon, cedar, bitter espresso, baker’s spices, earth, hay and leather in various amounts. Both the spice on my tongue and black pepper on the retrohale both decrease noticeably. Fortunately, the burn improves tremendously, while the draw continues to impress and the smoke from the foot is well above average. Strength-wise, the cigar continues on its path, ending the second third well short of the medium mark.

There is not much change in the final third of the E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster: the profile features both the familiar almond paste sweetness as well as the dominant bready note, followed by hay, cedar, gritty earth, charred meat, espresso and licorice. One big change is the amount of spice on my tongue and black pepper on the retrohale, both of which have diminished noticeably, a trend that continues until the end of the cigar. The draw continues to impress, but the burn has started to waver a bit again, forcing me to touch it up to a avoid it getting out of control. Finally, the smoke production continues to emanate off of the foot like a house on fire. The overall strength increases enough to make it very close to the medium mark before sputtering out as I put the nub down with a little more than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • For those who are not aware, ring gauges are determined in 64ths of an inch, meaning that a cigar rolled with a 64 ring gauge actually measures one inch in diameter.
  • Along with the above, I am not sure what the point is of having entire lines under the INCH moniker when only one of the cigars in most of the lines actually measure an inch in diameter.
  • Yes, the INCH in the name is supposed to all be in caps. Although interestingly, the Ringmaster in the name is not consistent, as the website lists the name as both RingMaster and RINGMASTER while various posts on E.P. Carrillo’s social media accounts have it spelled as Ringmaster.
  • I moved the foot band to its location under the main band for better photographs.
  • The amount of smoke this cigar puts out borders on obnoxious, although it does smell quite good.
  • I don’t suggest trying to light this cigar with a single flame lighter unless you enjoy being frustrated.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 49 minutes.
  • f you would like to purchase any of the E.P. Carrillo INCH Ringmaster 5 3/8, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar and Serious Cigars have them in stock.
86 Overall Score

I have not been overly impressed with some of the new blends coming out of E.P. Carrillo lately, so I was really interested in how the INCH Ringmaster would smoke, especially considering it is not even close to my preferred ring gauge. This is easily the sweetest E.P.C. profile I have smoked in years: sweet on the palate, sweet on the retrohale and even sweet on the finish. Having said that, the aforementioned sweetness is fairly one-note, although it does pair nicely with the dominant sourdough bread flavor that is dominant throughout the smoke. While the lack of complexity in the profile is not going to set your world on fire—no pun intended—it is a very enjoyable and easy to smoke cigar, one that many people will enjoy if they give it a try, especially if you like larger ring gauges.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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