2018 Cigar of the year!
September 4, 2019
It’s difficult to talk about the E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic without mentioning the man behind the brand. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is a cigarmaker who has been through many phases in the cigar industry, a man who reinvented himself several times throughout his long career.
He started as a disinterested employee in his father’s small, struggling cigar business in Miami. It was called El Credito Cigar Co. and produced a few hundred thousand cigars per year for locals in Little Havana. Then, in 1976, when his father was about to sell the business, Ernesto had a nagging instinct that told him he was making a mistake. The sale was canceled. His father died in 1980 and Perez-Carrillo took over the company, putting much of his effort behind a brand called La Gloria Cubana, which became one of the hottest cigars of the 1990s.
The brand got the attention of General Cigar Co., which purchased La Gloria in 1999. Perez-Carrillo worked with General for a decade, before leaving to reinvent himself once again, creating EPC Cigar Co. in 2009 with his children.
Since opening his own factory in the Dominican Republic, Perez-Carrillo has released a good amount of brands, some more successful than others, but none as brilliant as the E.P. Carrillo Encore. He has long worked with Nicaraguan leaves, but Encore marks the first time he’s ever made a cigar solely using Nicaraguan tobaccos. Astute retailers might remember that he first previewed the Encore at the IPCPR trade show in 2016, but Perez-Carrillo didn’t think the wrapper was quite ready, so going with his gut once again, he decided to put the cigar on hold and give the wrappers more time to age, almost two more years. It wasn’t until last March that he felt the cigars were finally ready. The decision paid off.
The Encore’s rose-gold band may look familiar, as it’s the same one found on 2014’s La Historia, only in a different color. As the name suggests, this cigar is the “encore” performance to La Historia. Both bands have the image of Perez-Carrillo family members, including Ernesto’s daughter Lissette, who is heavily involved in the company.
The filler tobaccos deep inside are from Nicaragua’s three primary growing regions—Estelí, Condega and Jalapa—and all of it comes together in the Majestic, a robusto of immaculately detailed flavor that ranges from oak and tea to caramel sweetness with tangy citrus pops of candied orange peel. It’s elegant, refined and nuanced from first puff to last, but is also the culmination of a long career in tobacco and the result of a man who was never afraid to follow his instincts.
Text by Cigar Aficionado.