In 2022, E.P. Carrillo would launch a line focused on large ring gauge cigars known as the INCH Series. Large ring gauge cigars are nothing new to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo as he was considered somewhat of a pioneer in this area while he was with La Gloria Cubana. Back in 2012, the INCH was originally introduced in a Maduro and a Natural (Sumatra) blend and it quickly became one of E.P. Carrillo’s most successful lines. Today we take a closer look at a new regular production addition to the INCH line, the INCH Nicaragua. As the name indicates, not only is it a 100% Nicaraguan cigar, but it’s a cigar that’s made in Nicaragua – and it’s made at the Plasencia factory in Nicaragua. This marked the first time that E.P. Carrillo worked in a factory outside its own Tabacalera La Alianza facility. Today we take a look at the INCH Nicaragua in the No. 60 (60-ring gauge size).
The INCH Natural and Maduro are long-time successful regular production offerings by E.P. Carrillo. There have been several attempts to add a third regular production blend into the series. In 2014, the INCH C-99 was introduced. This was followed up in 2016 with the E.P. Carrillo INCH Colorado. There have also been several limited editions. As for the C-99 and Colorado blends, they didn’t have the popularity of the Natural and Maduro lines. For all practical purposes, it’s a fair argument E.P. Carrillo hasn’t found what could be that third regular production blend to stand alongside the highly successful INCH Natural and INCH Maduro.
But the big story around INCH Nicaragua is that Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is making a cigar outside of his own factory. The announcement that this was being done at Plasencia threw a lot of people for a loop. This turned out to be a bigger story in that it is part of a larger program E.P. Carrillo is embarking on – collaborating with other manufacturers. Later in 2022, E.P. Carrillo announced its Allegiance cigar would be made by Oliva; and there are plans for the 2023 Short Run to be done at another factory.
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention to the E.P. Carrillo INCH No. 60 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
As mentioned the INCH Nicaragua is a 100% Nicaraguan puro made at the Plasencia factory in Nicaragua. The tobaccos utilized come from the Plasencia family farms in Nicaragua.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Plasencia S.A.
The INCH Nicaragua is offered in three sizes. These sizes are also found in the current INCH Natural and INCH Maduro offerings. Each is presented in 24-count boxes.
No. 60: 5 7/8 x 60
No. 62: 5 x 62
No. 64: 6 1/8 x 64
The name INCH stems from the fact that a cigar with a 64-ring gauge is one inch in diameter.
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the INCH Nicaragua had a dark cinnamon color. There was a light sheen of oil on the surface of the wrapper. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling that was present on the surface. The wrapper had some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.
The key to smoking a 60-plus-ring gauge cigar is to try to use a cutter that is big enough to cut a 60-ring gauge – and that is exactly what I did with the INCH Nicaragua No. 60. Once the cap was successfully removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered notes of cedar, earth, and baker’s spice. The baker’s spice was the secret sauce here as it made for an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to remove the footer band of the INCH Nicaragua No. 60, toast up the footer, and commence with the smoking phase.
The E.P Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No. 60 opened with more notes of cedar, earth, and baker’s spice. Early on the earth and baker’s spice moved into the forefront. The cedar notes settled into the background and were joined by notes of classic wood and black pepper. By the middle of the first third, notes of natural tobacco joined the earth notes in the forefront pushing the earth into the background. Meanwhile, there were additional layers of wood and pepper on the retro-hale.
At the start of the second third of E.P Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No. 60 the natural tobacco and baker’s spice remained primary with the wood, cedar, pepper, and earth notes secondary. As the cigar progressed through the second third, the wood notes occasionally crept into the forefront. There was an increase in the pepper notes on the tongue – and n the retro-hale. As the cigar passed the midway point, the baker’s spice receded into the background.
By the final third, the natural tobacco remained at the forefront. The wood was the next most prominent note. A the same time notes of baker’s spice, cedar, pepper, and earth rounded out the flavor profile. This is the way the E.P. Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No. 60 came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Overall, the E.P. Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No. 60 performed quite well when it came to burn and draw. While there was a slight jaggedness from to time, this was a cigar that had no trouble maintaining a straight burn path – and this was a cigar that required minimal touch-ups. There resulting ash was firm with a silver-gray color. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the E.P. Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No. 60 had a touch of resistance to it. This worked ideally when it came to this cigar. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The E.P. Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No. 60 started out medium in strength and body. By the midway point, the flavors of the INCH Nicaragua No. 60 had progressed to medium to full. The strength also increased but didn’t reach medium to full until the final third. When it came to strength versus body, the body maintained the edge.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
At the time the INCH Nicaragua was released, E.P. Carrillo updated the box packaging of the Natural and Maduro lines to match the INCH Nicaragua. It took a little while to get used to, but the packaging grew on me. One note is the INCH Nicaragua received banding to match the box design. The INCH Natural and Maduro maintained the gold ruler design. I really liked the old gold ruler design. It took me a while to get used to it, but I am now fully on board with the packaging and band design of the INCH Nicaragua.
Another nice feature is the secondary bands identify the particular line in the INCH portfolio.
Overall the E.P. Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No.60 performed quite well. The cigar had outstanding flavors, excellent construction, and excellent performance. My assumption is that this is due to the fact that the E.P. Carrillo INCH Nicaragua No.60 is blended to specifically a large ring gauge. It has actually become one of my favorite E.P. Carrillo INCH lines. In the end, this isn’t going to convert someone who is a small ring gauge fan to a Gordo smoker. What I will say is it will satisfy the fan of large cigars. Plus if you are open to trying a big right gauge, I think you might be surprised. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again and keep multiples in my humidor. Coming in at 90 points, this cigar earns a Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence designation.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Wood, Cedar, Earth, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium (1st q), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy Multiples
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted
Originally posted on June 21, 2023 @ 5:18 pm