Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is often thought of as the father of boutique cigars, as his small, family-run, boutique cigar factory in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood became a point of focus with the release of Cigar Aficionado’s first issue in 1992. Carrillo’s La Gloria Cubana brand earned high scores, ushering in a wave of interest in his small operation—later resulting in the sale of his company and brands to Swedish Match. After remaining in charge of his brands for roughly a decade under the new ownership, Ernesto departed the company in 2009.
As the Carrillo family had done for decades, Ernesto opened his own factory, teaming with his daughter Lissette McPhillips Perez-Carrillo and son Ernesto Pérez-Carrillo III. Along with the new factory (dubbed Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.), the Carrillos debuted their eponymous E.P. Carrillo Cigar Company (EPC Cigar Co.); producing small batch cigars with a focus on quality, affordability, and old-world technique.
Ernesto is credited as an innovator of modern cigar styles, such as powerhouse blend profiles and large ring gauges. These styles have carried over with many of EPC’s cigars, including popular names such as INCH, E.P. Carrillo Core Plus, Cardinal Series, and La Historia (ranked as Cigar Aficionado’s No. 2 Cigar of 2014).