Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo has plied his trade as a cigar maker for more than 50 years and still continues to develop admirable blends at La Tabacalera Alianza, the family's factory, in the Dominican Republic.
EP Carrillo is the third generation of a family history that began in 1907, in Havana, Cuba, when his grandfather and his brother made cigars and sold them on the streets of Havana. Before him, his father, Ernesto Sr., bought, in 1948, a small tobacco factory called El Credito, where they made cigars until 1959, when Fidel Castro's rise to power forced them to leave the country. They settled in Miami and there, in 1968, they bought a cigar factory in Little Havana, and named it El Credito, in memory of the first.
For the next eight years, Ernesto Jr. was trying to succeed in the world of jazz until, in 1976, he decided on his true calling: cigars. So, he joined his father's business to start a long road that is not over yet, recognized even by Cigar Aficionado magazine, which included him in the Hall of Fame.
In 1980, when his father passed away, he was put in charge of the company and despite the difficult years that followed, he stayed afloat. Determined to get ahead, he set out to create a cigar capable of producing a unique sensory experience for smokers, and in the early 1990s he crafted his first highly successful blend. He called it La Gloria Cubana, a new version of a cigar they had made in El Credito in 1972 -name of an old Cuban cigar whose rights the family had acquired while they were still in Cuba.
The first versions of the La Gloria Cubana made in Miami were not as successful as the new version, which came out with a completely new blend made up of an Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper and a Nicaraguan binder that enveloped filler from both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. In addition, they changed the packaging and used as a ring the striking work of art that the original Cuban version carried, which represents an allegorical female figure of "glory", which gave the brand a shiny and historical context.
However, a key event was still missing for La Gloria Cubana to go from being a cigar with very good local acceptance among Miami smokers, to attracting attention in many other places in the country. That event took place at the end of 1992, when the magazine Cigar Aficionado, which came to light that year, rated the Wavel format of La Gloria Cubana with 90 points: on the inaugural day of the publication, demand skyrocketed to levels never imagined before.
Next came La Gloria Cubana Serie R, a stronger 2001 version of the main line, which introduced a 60 caliber size to the brand. This cigar produced such an impact that it generated the tendency to make thick cigars, which is still in force in the industry today.
Seven years later, La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Miami, a very elegant boutique cigar made in Miami, was ranked number 9 on Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 of 2008 list.
In 2009, Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo parted ways with La Gloria Cubana because he stopped working for General Cigar Co., to whom he had sold the brand some ten years earlier. However, in 2017, to celebrate the brand's past 25 years of unwavering success, he collaborated with the renowned company to launch a new line called La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva.
Today there is no doubt that La Gloria Cubana is an unquestionable achievement from the legendary master blender that remains EP Carrillo.