E.P. Carrillo has once again released its annual Short Run series, a collection of three sizes with limited production that begin appearing at retailers in mid-March. This year’s Short Run release marks the sixth installment in the series and as is the norm, features three sizes, the Napoleon (5 x 50, $6.75), Vencedores (6 x 52, $7.75) and Imperios (6 x 60, $8.75). All come in 24-count boxes, with 1,500 boxes of each size being made, a total of 108,000 cigars.

E P Carrillo Short Run 2015 vitolas

  • E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon (5 x 50) — $6.75 (Boxes of 24, $162) — 1,500 Boxes of 24 Cigars (36,000 Total Cigars)
  • E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 Vencedores (6 x 52) — $7.75 (Boxes of 24, $186) — 1,500 Boxes of 24 Cigars (36,000 Total Cigars)
  • E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 Imperios (6 x 60) — $8.75 (Boxes of 24, $210) — 1,500 Boxes of 24 Cigars (36,000 Total Cigars)

Fans of the line might notice that the sizes are slightly different from what have been released in years past. From 2010 through 2013, there were three standard sizes: a 5 7/8 x 52, 6 1/4 x 60 and 4 7/8 x 50. The in 2014, E.P. Carrillo decided to use the INCH blend for the Short Run release, and as such the sizes changed to a 5 7/8 x 60, 5 x 62 and 6 1/8 x 64, the same three sizes as the original INCH line.

The bands also get a tweak for 2015, as they use a style that has become more prevalent on E.P. Carrillo releases in the past year or so, beginning with the E.P. Carrillo 5 Year Anniversary and then being used on the New Wave Reserva and E.P. Carrillo Cabinet that started as European releases in the fall of 2014 before coming stateside recently.

As for the blend, it’s a new creation from E.P. Carrillo, distinctive enough that the wrapper is featured on the band: a criollo 98 leaf from Nicaragua’s Jalapa region. Under it is a Nicaraguan binder and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The cigar first started appearing at the 2015 ProCigar Festival in the Dominican Republic, though in fairly limited quantities. The official announcement wouldn’t come until early March, when the company called the flavor it produces “sharing a memory,” since Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Jr. is said to have wanted to create a cigar similar to this with the Nicaraguan criollo 98 wrapper some years ago but couldn’t find it until fairly recently.

E P Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo 98 (Jalapa)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6.75 (Boxes of 24, $162)
  • Release Date: March 13, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 24 Cigars (36,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

A few things about the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon catch my eye: first is the band, the latest in what’s been a bit of an evolution for the brand and immediately calls to mind the band on the E.P. Carrillo 5 Year Anniversary but proudly proclaiming the wrapper of the cigar, while also combining what could be two bands into one larger band. The second thing is that Criollo 98 is featured so prominently on the band, as that just isn’t something you see all that often, which leads me to the third thing about the cigar that catches my eye: the dark, coffee bean brown criollo 98 wrapper.

It  doesn’t show much in the way of oils or tooth and has a dry feeling in the hand with a distinctive feel that isn’t really smooth or rough, but a texture that falls in the middle and will be familiar to those who have handled tobacco leaves, as a handful of prominent veins give the wrapper on the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 both visual and physical texture. The roll quality generally looks good and the caps are fairly neatly applied, though not always perfectly even or smooth. The firmness of the cigar varies quite a bit; the first sample cigar is firm and shows just a touch of give, but nothing that raises an eyebrow, while the second I smoked is soft between the first and second thirds. The pre-light aroma on the first cigar has a near-perfect chocolate note coming from the foot, purer than milk chocolate but not as bitter as the higher grade offerings. It’s sweet without being overpowering and there’s no spice, pepper or competing notes to get in its way. Other samples don’t show that same clarity but are all bright and offer touches of leather and wet soil. The cold draw is just a bit firm and shows more complexity than what I got through the nose; there is still a bit of the chocolate in the background but I’m also getting subtle hints of wet leather, pepper and damp soil.

There is a certain gravitas to the flavor and aroma of the Short Run 2015 in the early going as nostril filling smoke full of barnyard and earth waft off the foot of the cigar as its toasted, but I’m also impressed at how bright it is, not getting weighed down by what could be presented as a heavy flavor. There are touches of pepper and earth in the first few puffs, a captivating but not overpowering beginning to the cigar. The burn line starts to venture off course in the first inch, nothing I’m overly concerned about but something that I will be monitoring. By the one inch mark the flavor has begun a significant shift, though its direction seems to be different from cigar to cigar. In the first sample I get an incredible note of peppermint, somewhere between a candy cane on the tongue and Altoid in the nose. In the second and third cigars it’s not there in nearly the same form and pepper grabs the reins, giving the cigar an even brighter punch of flavor and aroma. At points the heavier notes from the initial puffs completely go away, though they seem to return by the time the burn line is just past an inch in length. I could certainly go for a bit more open of a draw at points during the first third, but it’s not overly problematic, and with the ash holding on until almost the band, I’m willing to accept the cigar as it is.

E P Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon 2

Again, the lead note of either pepper or peppermint that emerged at the end of the first third becomes the focal point of the Short Run 2015’s evolution, staying prevalent at the start of the second third before swapping roles with the heavier earth notes ahead of the midpoint, yet still staying part of the overall package. The draw is still a bit tight but the burn line has more or less corrected itself, and by the midpoint I’m really impressed by what the Short Run 2015 has been able to deliver, though it hasn’t quite been quite as attention grabbing as I might have been hoping for from E.P. Carrillo in terms of complexity. I will certainly give it the credit its due for balance, as for a blend that leans toward the full side of the spectrum, it’s certainly stayed fair to the palate. Past the midpoint, the peppermint is almost completely gone and my palate is left with a smooth if somewhat nondescript earthiness, along with varying amounts of pepper that leave a good tingle on the tongue. A few retrohales offer a pleasing tingle on the top of the nasal cavity that’s more about stimulation than submission.

E P Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon 3

After two fairly strong thirds there is a bit of reprieve at the start of the final third, though it’s certainly not a complete bottoming out of the flavors. There’s a bit of a woody undertone that starts to emerge with touches of leather closer to the forefront, though the cigar never sheds its roots and begins to bring the pepper back as a more prominent part of the equation. There are points where there’s a bit of charred wood in the aroma, which helps keep the cigar on the stronger side of medium in terms of flavor and strength, yet I can’t say I feel much of a nicotine kick. The burn line continues to be sharp and even with no combustion or smoke production issues at all, with the smoke staying fairly cool and allowing me to smoke it down to a small nub without any harshness.

E P Carrillo Short Run 2015 Napoleon 4

Final Notes

  • This is another example of a cigar that looks like it could have two bands on it, but in fact only has one, a similar presentation to the secondary band on the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009 I smoked recently.
  • It is fitting that the smallest vitola of this year’s Short Run series is called Napoleon, given how the French military and political is well known for being short, though many believe that to be a false report and put him around 5’6”, which was average for the time.
  • I really wish the peppermint note was found in the other two cigars I smoked for this review, though I have to wonder if my palate was a bit off or if I was just crazy the day I smoked that. I’ve tasted peppermint before in cigars, but this was almost on another level, and while I got traces of it in the others, it was nowhere near as prominent.
  • If you’d like to read all of halfwheel’s reviews of E.P. Carrillo Short Run releases, here you go: 2010 Delirios, 2010 No. 42011 Cañonazos, 2012 Invictos2013 Robusto (and redux) and 2014 No. 62.
  • Final smoking time was just under two hours on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic CigarEmerson’s Cigars and Serious Cigar all list the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2015 as being in stock. Cigar Hustler, JR Cigars and Stogies World Class Cigars are all E.P. Carrillo retailers but have not yet listed this line yet.
86 Overall Score

E.P. Carrillo's Short Run line has generally scored well on halfwheel, and 2015's release is no different. I'm still scratching my head over the peppermint note that I found to be so prominent in the first cigar, and my lasting impression from all three was that I would have loved a bit more complexity across the board, but I can certainly see what Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Jr. found so appealing about this wrapper.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.