After a few delays, Epicurean Cigars newest blend will be shipping to retailers this week. The Carnavale was first announced back in January, and had its release date pushed back from June to August to September due to problems with the boxes being produced and to ensure proper aging. During that time, the total production also doubled, from an original 500 boxes of 20 for each size to 1,000 boxes for all four vitolas annually. 

The blend is produced at the Plasencia Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua and features a Colorado habano oscuro wrapper grown in Jalapa, Nicaragua. The binders are American broadleaf and Honduran tobacco while the  three ligero fillers include tobaccos from the Jalapa region as well as ASP Estelí ligero. Originally, the cigar was named Carnival, but was changed to Carnavale due to the CAO Brazilia with the same name.

There will be four different vitolas when the Epicurean Carnavale launches this week.

  • Epicurean Carnavale Lancero (6 1/2 x 38) — $8.60 (Boxes of 20, $170) — 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Epicurean Carnavale Petite Corona (5 1/2 x 48) — $9 (Boxes of 20, $180) — 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Epicurean Carnavale Toro (6  x 52) — $10 (Boxes of 20, $200) — 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Epicurean Carnavale Trabajdor (5 x 56) — $9.60 (Boxes of 20, $192) — 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)

Epicurean Carnavale Petite Corona 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Epicurean Carnavale Petite Corona
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: American Broadleaf & Honduran
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $9 (Boxes of 20, $180)
  • Release Date: September 12, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The Epicurean Carnavale is small when held in your hand with an extreme box-press and a dark mocha brown wrapper that is almost totally seamless. While the cigar does feels quite a bit like parchment, it has quite a bit of give to it when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet raisins, cereal, sweet oak and pepper, while the cold draw brings flavors of strong raisins, oak and cinnamon.

Starting out, the Epicurean Carnavale has a dark cocoa flavor that is dominant right off the bat, along with secondary notes of cedar, barnyard, earth and grass that rise and fall in strength throughout the first third. I am tasting some fairly significant raisin sweetness, but it is mostly relegated to the finish. While there is no spice to be had, I am noticing a pretty significant black pepper on the retrohale. The burn is fine so far and the draw is excellent, while the smoke production is about average. Strength-wise, the Carnavale ends the first third well below the medium mark, but seems to be getting stronger, albeit not very quickly.

Epicurean Carnavale Petite Corona 2

The dark cocoa note is still dominant throughout the second third of the Epicurean Carnaval, but a nice slightly bitter espresso note is gaining steam, especially on the finish and the retrohale. I am still tasting other flavors of wood, grass and creamy leather. The black pepper on the retrohale has remained constant, but unfortunately the sweetness has turned from the raisin note in the first third to more of a generic sweetness that I am picking up only every once in a while. Construction-wise, both the burn and draw tow the line, while the strength is very close to the medium mark by the end of the second third.

Epicurean Carnavale Petite Corona 3

The final third of the Epicurean Carnavale features more of the dark cocoa note mixed with an ever increasing espresso flavor, along with a bit more sweetness than was present in the second third. Other flavors of clove, dry tea leaves, leather and grass flit in and out, but none are strong enough to really make much of a difference in the overall profile. The burn and draw continue to give me no issues whatsoever, while the strength finally hits the medium mark by the time I put the nub down with a little less than an inch left to go.

Epicurean Carnavale Petite Corona 4

Final Notes

  • While I loved the size of this vitola, a 5 1/2 x 48 is not a petite corona. For reference, a marevas, arguably the signature Cuban petit corona, measures 5 1/8 x 42.
  • I also really loved the size of the ring gauge combined with the extreme box-press.
  • The construction was very good on all three samples, with no major issues that had to be corrected.
  • We covered the Epicurean booth at the 2014 IPCPR convention and trade show, where Steve Ysidron also released the Chicken Bones, a 5 x 30 version of the Gonzo Santeria blend and the Santeria Mojo, which will launch with three sizes.
  • Epicurean is distributed by House of Emilio.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were provided to halfwheel by Epicurean Cigars at the 2014 IPCPR convention and trade show.
  • The final smoking time averaged a relatively quick one hour and 10 minutes over all three samples.
85 Overall Score

Although there is not an overt amount of complexity in the flavors in the Epicurean Carnavale, the flavors that are present work well with each other and the construction overall makes it a very easy cigar to smoke. I loved the box press and the size, and I think this blend will resonate with people looking for a strong dark chocolate profile mixed with espresso notes. An easy cigar to recommend trying at least once.

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Brooks Whittington

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.