EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review: Kicking Ash With a Contender for Best Cigar of the Year

Once considered a rarity, and even taboo in certain circles, collaboration cigars have become increasingly commonplace in the past couple of decades. And while not all of these collaborative endeavors results in an award-winning premium cigar blend, the vast majority of these smokes are pretty damn memorable. 

By relying upon the expertise of a fellow cigar manufacturer, master blenders are finding fresh ways of creating new cigar flavor profiles. May it be via crop cultivation, fermentation, topographical growing location, production implementation, or some combo of all the above in a completely different nation, the whole "Teamwork makes the dream work!"  mantra has never been more alive and appropriate.

But occasionally a cigar maker decides to do a collaborative blend with respect for the other manufacturer's capabilities at the forefront. This is precisely where Allegiance by EP Carrillo comes into play. For instead of producing a cigar in the Dominican Republic out of locally sourced tobacco like he normally would, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo tapped Oliva Cigars down in Nicaragua to produce the contents and then roll up a cigar for him. 

Although the formulation of the blend was a joint effort between the two companies, EP Carrillo (EPC) gives full credit to Oliva for the tobacco used within the blend, as well as its box-pressed production. However, the idea of this "allegiance" and its roster of ingredients was all EP Carrillo from day one, and not the other way around, hence the cigar bearing Ernesto's banding and branding. 

So, how did this joint effort pan out? Pretty damn stellar if you ask us. For when two of the greatest names in premium cigar production come together to make a smoke, you better believe that the sparks are going to fly.  

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Unlit Impressions  

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

Oily, evenly box-pressed, and triple-banded via a double-barrel and foot approach, the Allegiance embodies class without putting on airs. Sure, there was a little mottling to be seen on some of the sticks I smoked, but it's far from being offensive. Construction is Oliva-grade, and outside of a minor soft spot in one area on a single stick, and a cap on another peeling back a bit, each of these toros seemed solidly built from rectangular foot to box-pressed cap.

Aromas off the wrapper remind me of a spiced-up bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. A faint black tea twinge comes after, along with a lemony bitter-n-tart tang to back it up. The foot is a whole other animal though, favoring sweet gingerbread and raisin aromas, along with a mild mineral attribute that is closest compared to the smell of a freshly sharpened graphite pencil.  

See mom? I told you all those art classes in college would pay off someday.

Let's see now, cold pulls... oh where to begin here? Gingerbread cookies and Sumatran spice, along with a medium level of sweetness and sun-grown tobacco depth are my biggest takeaways here. It's not overly sweet, but neither is it dry.

Initial Smoke 

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

Impressively mellow at first, with a dry nuttiness and chalky soil, Allegiance is a slow starter when it comes to intensity and complexity. This slowly changes as the blend hits the 15-minute mark, where many of those unlit impressions start to jockey for your attention.  

1st Half   

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

Although the intoxicating aroma of gingerbread can be found within the clouds of smoke pouring forth from this cigar, it's more of an aromatic tease of what once was than a top note. Dried cashew and almond nuts, raw bread dough, and a tingle of Sumatran spice toward the finish are the primary flavors for the first 30 minutes of this cigar.

There's a dry sweetness to the review cigar in my video that nods toward green raisin studded chocolate liqueur, but it does not stick to the tongue and disperses quickly. This is quite different than the other two sticks I smoked, which leaned heavily on dark chocolate and jam-like juiciness in the first half.

Still, the flavors are very good, and everything strikes a medium of... well... medium. This is one satiny, smooth cigar. A mellow premium cigar blend that makes you feel like you are smoking something stronger than what is in your hand. That... or maybe it's the other way around. Let that sink in for a sec... we'll wait. 

2nd Half      

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

Sumatran wrapper fans will fall hard for the center and final sections of EP Carrillo's Allegiance. Spicy, sweet, and stuffed with medium-strength sun-grown Oliva leaf, the majority of this cigar's flavor wheel hits you with one winning spin after another in the second half. 

Darker, stronger earth flavors and black chocolate notes are detected at times, which in my review cigar came and went unexpectedly, only to return once more for a second serving. In contrast, the other two cigars I smoked prior held an even amount of everything aforementioned throughout, and only toward the final third did they shift toward a richer, maduro-like darkness.  

Parting Puffs   

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

Returning to its spiced Sumatran roots, and bringing many of the chocolate nutty notes from the first third along for the ride, parting puffs pushes your olfactory senses to the edge of intense.

While that may sound like quite the rich and tantalizing tangle, the blend somehow manages to forge a medium of balance between it all and leave you enjoying what's left of the cigar in all of its chaotic glory. 

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw 

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

While two of the three cigars I smoked were flawless in their construction and combustion, the third stick I smoked burned a little hot and unevenly, and was both flakey and wavy when it came to measuring its ash. Coincidentally, this cigar happened to be the one that I filmed for my review, which resulted in one facepalm after another taking place behind the scenes. 🤦‍♂️

That being said, the cigar still had a flawless draw (even when punched), and produced smoke that was a lavish, medium-full mixture of aromatics and exotic spice. Heat was never an issue with the first two cigars either, with both sticks maintaining a magnificent box-pressed ash that reached well over a third of the barrel's length at a time. 

Final Thoughts  

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

If I had stuck with reviewing two of these cigars, instead of firing up a third, the EP Carrillo Allegiance would have likely landed 4.8/5 stars. Thus making it a clear leader for the best cigar I've smoked and reviewed during the 2023 calendar year. 

But for one reason or another fate urged me to spark a third stick. A cigar that not only performed poorly at times, but delivered flavors in portions of the barrel that were either seen earlier on, or far later in the other two sticks. This caused the cigar being smoked in my film review to taste a bit odd at times, with poorly timed (or missed) transitions leaving my palate feeling a bit confused. 

However, being that highly enjoyable tastes were present in all three cigars, with two of them delivering perfectly timed belts of flavor and flawless transitions at opportune times, I erred on the side of forgiveness and only deducted 0.2 points from the overall score.

This keeps EPC's Allegiance in the running for the best cigar of the year and earns it two thumbs up for being one of the more impressive Sumatran wrapped blends money can buy for under $20. A cigar that is worth buying by the box, if not by the crate.

EP Carrillo "Allegiance" Review

Stogie Specs


EP Carrillo "Allegiance"


Sumatra (Ecuador)






Oliva Cigars (Nicaragua)


6" x 52 "Toro" (box-pressed)



Pairing Drink

Iced Mocha



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