Since launching E.P. Carrillo in 2009, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. has introduced a plethora of blends, most under his eponymous company’s portfolio, along with a fair number of Crowned Heads releases as well. Amongst the E.P. Carrillo releases, if you had to ask me to pick just one, the choice would be easy: the E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010.

The debut Short Run was released in the company’s first full year, before the company had introduced its first regular production line. Up until that point, the only E.P. Carrillo you could purchase with the Edición Inaugural 2009, a single-size limited edition that had—for the time—a hefty price tag, especially for a new company. But for between $6.25-8.50 per cigar, you could purchase one of three vitolas of Short Runs—and boy I wish that I bought more of them. The concept for Short Run was simple: Perez-Carrillo Jr. found some tobacco he liked, but there was only enough to make a certain amount of cigars, a short run.

The Short Run returned each year from 20112016—in various shapes and blends—but nothing captured the magic I remember with the original.

Earlier this year, E.P. Carrillo announced that after a five-year hiatus the Short Run was back. This time it would use an Ecuadorian habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

Like the original, it’s offered in three vitolas, though this time each are named after record terminology, a nod to Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s time as a jazz drummer.

  • E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Short Play (5 x 50) — $7.50 (Box of 24, $180)
  • E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Extended Play (6 x 52) — $8.50 (Box of 24, $204)
  • E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Long Play (6 x 60) — $9.50 (Box of 24, $228)

The first batch shipped in mid-June, roughly 40,000 cigars, though there are plans for a second batch later this year.

  • Cigar Reviewed: E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Extended Play
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $8.50 (Box of 24, $204)
  • Release Date: June 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Given my fond memories with the original Short Run series, I’m excited to see the familiar gold-on-black secondary band. The wrapper is dark enough that there’s more contrast between it and the tobaccos exposed in the foot than the wrapper and the black secondary band. While it’s quite dark, it’s not the almost purple color that the darkest cigars typically develop. There’s plenty of oil, veins and bumps running down the side of the wrapper. Furthermore, each of the cigars is quite hard. I can’t smell any distinct flavors coming from the wrapper, so I move on to smelling the foot which is medium-full with aromas of chocolate syrup over cedar and leather. Cold draws deliver a bubble gum sweetness over macadamia nuts and earthiness. It’s medium-plus and very balanced.

The E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Extended Play starts with a distinct earthy flavor over various charred and toasty sensations, including burnt coffee. While the toastiness ebbs and flows, by the heart of the first third the strongest flavor is a dry pecan sensation. It sits over some toastiness and minerals, which really come to life in the finish. In addition to that duo of flavors, I pick up various herbal flavors after the smoke leaves my mouth. Retrohaling delivers meatiness, nuttiness and grassiness, though they finish with an added white bread flavor. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-plus. Construction is great on two cigars, though all three cigars have a tight draw. A third sample—the one photographed—seems to be a bit off in every way and needs a touch-up.

Right after the halfway mark, the Extended Play gets a lot better. There’s toastiness over nuttiness, dry herbal flavor and creaminess. The big change is the balance, which seems to better incorporate the secondary notes with the toasty flavors. The finish is still toastiness over nuttiness, though it’s a lot closer race between the two. In addition, I pick up bread, leather and bits of black pepper. The retrohales are much smoother thanks to an emerging floral flavor that joins some of the herbal sensations from earlier along with nuttiness and cedar. Those retrohales finish with cedar over floral flavors, toastiness and cinnamon. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-plus. The draw is better on all three cigars, though all three also need touch-ups to help with an uneven burn.

Unfortunately, the floral sensations from earlier disappear in the final third and it leaves the E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Extended Play with lots of toasty sensations and not much to cut through it. There’s earthiness, herbal flavors, dry leaves and burnt peppercorns—but all of those flavors seem to just amplify the toasty sensations, which have become a bit much at this point. The finish has toasty flavors along with paprika. Surprisingly, that paprika flavor outshines the toastiness during the retrohale; the duo is also joined by some fruitiness and creaminess. The finish sees bread flavors overtake the toastiness, fruit flavors and black pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full, though the latter seems to be on a steep uptick.

Final Notes

  • The first sample I smoked for this review just seemed a bit off. The flavors were a bit less complex than the other two cigars, the burn struggled to get to the same consistency that the other two cigars showed, and the smoke production was much more inconsistent. I came back the next day for the second sample and was surprised by how much more balanced the flavors were and how much more normal the cigar was burning.
  • Out of the nine individual thirds I smoked—three each for three cigars—eight of them had issues with construction. While most of the issues were pretty minor, it’s a pretty long list of issues: uneven burns on two cigars, minor tunneling on one cigar, declining smoke production and tight draws. If I was smoking this while hanging out with a group of friends, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it outside of the tight draws.
  • If this cigar was another inch longer, I’m pretty sure it would have hit the full strength level.
  • I was surprised when this cigar was announced to return. First, it’s been five years since the last Short Run appeared. Second, due to the success of the Perez-Carrillo Pledge and the cigar market in general, it seemed like the Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. factory wasn’t in need of new cigars to roll.
  • While I like the return to the same packaging as the original, I’m a bit surprised that the 2016 packaging wasn’t used given it was the most recent release.
  • At this point, anytime there are new cigars that have MSRPs of regular-sized cigars under $8, it seems worth pointing out. In this case, the toro is $8.50 but the Long Play, 6 x 60, comes in at a very attractive $9.50 per cigar.
  • E.P. Carrillo is one of a handful of companies that oftentimes use musical references for its cigar names. Others that come to mind are Aging Room, Crowned Heads and PDR Cigars.
  • I’ve been very lucky mostly avoiding mold and bug issues with cigars since I started smoking cigars. The most notable loss, in my opinion, was when a mostly full cabinet of E.P. Carrillo Short Run 2010 No.4s developed mold that got onto most of the cigars in the box.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was around two hours and 10 minutes.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. and Corona Cigar Co. carry the E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021.
84 Overall Score

As with seemingly every Short Run since the original three 2010 vitolas, the E.P. Carrillo Short Run Retro 2021 Extended Play wasn’t able to conjure up the greatness that I fondly remember from the original 2010 trio. At that time, E.P. Carrillo clearly had disproportionate access to some of the world’s best tobacco and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. knew how to make it shine. The first half of the newest Short Run left me wanting more and the second half delivered on part of that, though I still wish it could have broken away from the toastiness a bit more. I think this is a great candidate for short- to medium-term aging and I look forward to revisiting it in 18-24 months to see if the other flavors can emerge a bit more.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.