EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review: Yet Another Limited Release We Wish We Could Stock Forever

So here's something a little different that some of you may not have tried yet. It's the 2023 Edition of EP Carrillo's Short Run annual limited release. 

Like many limited annual release cigars, the blend that comprises Short Run changes with each passing year, never to be repeated again. And like the utterly outstanding Cinco de Mayo version of Street Tacos from Rojas Cigars, the special blend we are sending out to our COTM members for the month of June 2024 is something we wish we could stock year-round.

The blend and the cigar itself aren't even an EP Carrillo creation either, but an Oscar Valladares product in its entirety. This "full-blown outsourcing" is a first for the Short Run release, and something that for an industry icon like Mr. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is fairly surprising... at least to some.

I am not the least bit perplexed as to why Señor Ernie tagged Valladares to tackle this blend. Oscar has an extremely solid line of boutique cigar brands in his portfolio, loads of accolades to his name, and an insatiable interest in the tobacco growing, fermentation, and cigar production business. He also has the capacity to produce a cigar from seed to vintage stogie, and due to his interest in farming tobacco in remote areas of Honduras like Copan, was able to attract the attention of EP Carrillo. 

This, in essence, is how this month's COTM began, and why the cigar we are about to discuss in detail is so divine.

[Buy 5-Pack]

Unlit Impressions 

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

First things first. Let's discuss the banding and branding of this cigar. Which is anything but exciting or noteworthy. It's a pity that Oscar Valladares was not allowed to add his signature creativity to this side of the cigar, because it really would have made the whole experience more memorable. Or at least photographically intriguing to the eye.

The unappealing side of the cigar exposed, we now focus on the construction of the stick itself, which like any Oscar Valladares stogie I've held in my life, is bordering on perfection. No seam splits, soft spots, or stray flaps of tobacco to be felt or seen, just a slight off-color to the scrap that was used for the final cap on this clean parejo. 

The habano wrapper out from Ecuador smells like a mixture of milk and honey but with some raw steel-cut oats and hay thrown on top. Combined, this forms a smell that reminds me of unsweetened kefir, complete with lactobacillus and various other forms of fermented fun. Perhaps there's some leather in there, and there is definitely cedar to be smelled, but it's much milder after nearly a year of extra age in the Klaro walk-in humidor.

Now that foot is far more animated and is very much a sugar-coated gum drop candy spice experience for the senses. It's got some cinnamon for sure, along with a little allspice and clove, with little licks of vanilla and Honduran rainforest floor blended in the olfactory-rich mix for all the right reasons.  

Initial Smoke 

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

Cedar and spice, little bits of candied gumdrop, a touch of earth and black pepper, and lots of smoke start you off. There's also that distinct oat note that is creamy and just a touch sweet, which continues to evolve alongside those light habano leather tastes as the blend combusts.

1st Half   

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

Like a hot bowl of oatmeal in the morning with a sliver of butter and sweet milk used in place of hot H2O, this blend's characteristics are creamy and clean from the moment it cranks up. That spice candied gumdrop taste is there as well, but it's not as strong as unlit aromatics would have you believe. 

As the blend builds in body, which is entirely medium in the first half mind you, flavors form that are more on the stronger side of the mid-range scale. It's definitely a sweeter, hardwood and hickory-accented smoke at times, with flavors forming more cinnamon and brown sugar in the first third, then a rounder maple syrup flavor following thereafter. Touches of coriander powder begin to form as well, which provides a cooling effect on the palate. 

This shift in the second third sparks even more interest in the oatmeal notes from before, which by this point are the balance to the spice, sweetness, and slowly ascending strength inside this cigar.

2nd Half    

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

It is not until you surpass the halfway point on the stick that the Honduran terroir takes hold, and even then it is a very refined secondary tasting note. Darker but not heavier, this medium blend builds in character without becoming too strong, as spiciness simmers on the back burner. 

This allows those oatmeal flavors to transition into a sugary sweet, maple brown sugar granola taste, complete with puffed rice, roasted cashew halves, and a little vanilla bean. Cinnamon is still the main spice note, followed by that little dash of coriander powder, which is almost citrus-like and extremely refreshing in its cooling capabilities. 

The only off-flavors to be found are the fleeting flavor of mineral. It has a metallic taste that is also distinctly earthen and reminds me of the sulfur and wood smell lingering in the air after a match has been struck

Parting Puffs    

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

Caramelized sugars and candied pralines, with more cashew creaminess than before stake their claim, as your taste buds turn from that bowl of granola to a more intense ending. It's here that black pepper pushes forth, along with the darkest sections of soil, presumably from the resins found within the leaf pulled out of the Copan rainforest. 

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

Oscar Valladares grade burn, draw, ash, heat, and smoke formation earmark this limited blend as yet another impressive performer from the talented boutique cigar brand.  No complaints here outside of some dropped ash in the second and final third. 

Final Thoughts  

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

I cannot recommend this limited blend enough. Alright, so the slight off-flavors of sulfur and metallic mineral tastes were unpleasant at times, but these soon passed. And yes, the decision to save some coin and keep Oscar Valladares' ingenious marketing and banding ideas out of the mix was a massive mistake, but that's alright for most people. 

This 2023 version of Short Run overcomes all and delivers one of the best blended oatmeal-based cigar flavor profile transitions I have ever encountered. You start off with the smell of rolled oats, which magically becomes a bowl of hot oatmeal with salted butter and warm milk poured on top. This transforms into a maple-glazed variant shortly thereafter, followed by a toasted, nutty granola note toward the final third. 

While it would have been awesome to experience a chocolate-coated granola bar conclusion in Parting Puffs, I can't complain about what each of these cigars have offered me thus far. Which is a really likable, medium-powered premium cigar blend with very few missteps or off-flavors.  

EP Carrillo Short Run 2023 Edition Review

Flavor, Aroma & Transitions

Depth & Complexity

Construction, Burn & Physical Appeal

Backstory & Branding

Overall Balance & Repeatability

Stogie Specs

Cigar

EP Carrillo "Short Run 2023"

Wrapper

Habano (Ecuador)

Binder

Nicaragua 

Filler

Nicaragua & Honduras 

Factory

Honduras

Size

" x 50 "Robusto"

Strength

Medium

Pairing Drink

Homemade Pineapple Soda

Rating

 4.5/5

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