The Early Years
"To me, Miami was supposed to be a stepping stone - a place to gather ourselves before I made it big in New York as a jazz musician. Things happen for a reason, and it's clear now that Miami was the right place for me, and the place that pushed me to discover - and master - my true calling in life." - Ernesto Perez-Carrillo
With empty pockets, the Perez-Carrillo family fled to Miami in 1959. Ernesto Sr. expected the move to be temporary; he envisioned moving his family back to Cuba once the political climate settled. While he waited, he took every odd job he could find to support his family.
As it became increasingly clear that returning to Cuba was not to be, Ernesto Sr. focused on making Miami his home, eventually realizing that his fortunes lie in re-creating what he did best in Cuba: making cigars. Nine years passed, but finally Ernesto Sr. was able to purchase a cigar factory in Little Havana, and fittingly named it El Credito. But Ernesto's passion was for jazz and not cigars. He had always dreamed of being a jazz drummer, and and when he turned 25 he even moved to New York City to try his luck with some of the great musicians and bands at the time. Hustling from audition to audition, gig after gig, Ernesto was determined to make it as a drummer. But after failing to catch on with the famed Stan Getz and his band, he finally returned to Miami, and began his journey toward cigar immortality.
Working alongside his father, Ernesto made cigars for the locals in Little Havana. It wasn't until his father contemplated selling El Credito in 1976 that young Ernesto realized that this was his calling in life. He convinced his father not to sell, and for the next 4 years, he shadowed his father to see how a master created a cigar. When his father passed away in 1980, a 29-year old Ernesto took over the reins of El Credito, but was not prepared for the financial difficulties that ensued. Bills piled up and demand for cigars cratered, but Ernesto's friends in the Miami cigar trade carried him through these tough times, confident that this promising craftsman would eventually succeed. And succeed he would.
The Birth of E.P. Carrillo
"I smoke because I want to feel not just the senses around the palate, but the whole body. When I tasted a Cuban Davidoff cigar in 1982, that's what I felt. And that experience is what I try to replicate in my cigars - a total sensuous smoke." - Ernesto Perez-Carrillo
After years of stagnant sales and uncertainty, Ernesto took his inspiration from that Cuban Davidoff and set out to create a cigar that would excite the senses. When he finally put the perfect blend together, he had created La Gloria Cubana. This overnight success was years in the making, however. La Gloria Cubana enjoyed star status among Miami cigar smokers and select others throughout the country, but it remained a "local" cigar.
But all this changed in 1992 when four of the brand's nine cigars scored 90 or higher in a relatively new publication entitled Cigar Aficionado. This Miami-made cigar outperformed established brands and even its Cuban competitors, stunning cigar connoisseurs. Instantly, the La Gloria Cubana brand was one of the brightest flames in the white-hot cigar craze of the early 1990's.
Word quickly spread, and La Gloria instantly became one of the most sought-out cigars in the world. Demand far outstripped supply in short order. This boutique brand went from selling a few thousand cigars a year to millions. And in 1999, Swedish Match purchased El Credito from the Perez-Carrillo family.
After working for Swedish Match/General Cigar until March 2009, Ernesto's children's beseeched him to return to the tobacco fields one more time to create the next great cigar. With the advent of EPC Cigar Co., Ernesto has once again dedicated himself to perfecting a family-run boutique brand, this time with his son, Ernesto III and daughter, Lissette.
Since creation, the family has released one new blend a year, beginning with the E.P. Carrillo CORE. Each blend, while offering a different array of complexity and strength profiles, has stayed true to the family�s ideals of consistency, tradition, and passion for perfection. Today, EPC Cigar Co. provides their customers with a diverse portfolio of blends and sizes which will satisfy the most discerning cigar smoker.
The E.P. Carrillo CORE line was launched in April 2010.