Written by Gary J. Arzt

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

User Rating: / 4

a conversation with ernesto perez carrilloprofiles


ernesto_perez_carrillo_001 Ernesto Perez Carrillo was busy making very fine cigars, in “Little Havana” in Miami, FL, when, in 1993, Cigar Aficionado rated his La Gloria Cubana Wavell an unprecedented 90. From that point on, the back orders remained - practically forever!

Ernie’s father had purchased the El Credito Cigar Company in 1928 – but that was in Cuba. The senior Carrillo was a highly respected individual who was also a Cuban Senator. All that was changed by a revolution and it would be many years before Ernie’s father would return to the tobacco industry – this time in Miami, FL. Ultimately, the company was sold to General Cigar, which itself was later acquired by Swedish Match.

I’ve known Ernie Carrillo for many years now, and I asked him, while I was in Santiago, for the Pro Cigar Festival, if I could sit down with him and get his first ‘post Swedish Match/General Cigar’ interview.

We managed to do that this past weekend, in spite of his very hectic schedule.

GJA: Your father started El Credito Cigar Company in Miami. If it was not the first, it certainly is one of the oldest factories in Little Havana. Is that the case, Ernie?

EPC: Yes, my father started El Credito in 1968, at 1106 S.W. 8th Street in Miami. It is one of the oldest cigar factories in the U.S.

GJA: As I heard the story, you were busy playing drums, jazz, which you loved. What got you to go into the family business?

EPC: In the 1970s, I worked for my father off and on. But, I really wanted a career as a drummer. In 1976 I moved to New York to build that career. I suppose we could say that I couldn’t cut it as a professional drummer. That and my father taking ill, brought me back to Miami and into the cigar business.

GJA: Ernie, you’re retiring after ten (10) years with General Cigar, to whom you sold your company in 1999. At the time, one of the reasons you gave for selling was that your children had no interest in the cigar business. Yet, now, you are going to go into business, making cigars, with your children. What changed over the past ten years?

EPC: Well, both my son and my daughter became professionals. My daughter as an attorney and my son in Private Equity. But about a year ago, they approached me with the idea of doing something together in the cigar industry. Maybe they’ve got tobacco in their blood! We began talking about it, and with my retirement from General Cigar/Swedish Match approaching, we decided to make plans.

GJA: What will the individual roles of your son and daughter be, in the new company?

EPC: My daughter will be dealing with the legal and financial aspects while son will be in charge of Sales and Marketing. I’ll do what I do best: blending, supervising manufacturing and buying tobaccos.


0 # "the touch of the masters hand"dr.stoogie 2009-03-28 04:39
The news of Ernesto's new cigar venture is the best news of the last 10 years. The man truly has a gift when it comes to cigars and I can hardly wait till December to purchase his new creation. Thanks for the news I have been waiting for.

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0 # ErnieKen in Miami 2009-03-29 09:54
I've been a fan of El Credito cigars for 20 years and look forward to his new efforts.
He's come a long way since high school :-)

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0 # One of my favoritesJack Hansen 2010-02-21 11:44
Mr Carrillo is also responsible for the El Rico Habano maduro torpedo, one of my top choices. Do not try on an empty stomach!

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