Inching Up: Thicker Smoke From Ernesto Perez-Carrillo

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is working on a new cigar, and it's going to be one of the thickest he's ever produced.

Inch by E.P. Carrillo, a three-size line of cigars with ring gauges of 60 and up, should be on sale by July. The cigar release is in direct response to retailers and consumers asking for ever-thicker cigars.

"All the reps are asking me for a large ring gauge cigar," Perez-Carrillo told Cigar Aficionado this morning. "We have big ring gauges in the E.P. Carrillo line," said his son, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo III, but we still get that question--when are you going to come out with a big ring gauge? We wanted to do something different."

That meant pushing the E.P. Carrillo name to the back, and leading with the word Inch. The brand will have three sizes: a cigar measuring 5 7/8 by 60 ring gauge, one that is 5 inches by 62, and the whopper, a 6 1/8 inch long, 64 ring gauge cigar.

Ring gauges are measured in 64ths of an inch, so the 64 will be one inch across in diameter. The thickness of the smoke will be evident in the band that is being designed to go around it--it's fashioned after an antique ruler.

Perez-Carrillo is unsure if this is the thickest cigar he's ever made. When he was making La Gloria Cubanas, there were some limited-production smokes that were considerably girthy. There are other cigars on the U.S. market that exceed 64 ring, including some 70s, but even by today's standards a 64 ring gauge cigar is considerably fat.

The cigars are being rolled at Perez-Carrillo's Tabacalera la Alianza factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic, alongside several varieties of E.P. Carrillo cigars and Four Kicks, which Perez-Carrillo makes under contact for Crowned Heads LLC.

Inch will come in two wrapper varieties. The natural will have an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, while the maduro will be made with Connecticut Broadleaf. Perez-Carrillo is particularly enamored with the filler blend, which has three leaves from the Dominican Republic (a mix of Dominican Piloto Cubano, Corojo and Criollo '98), plus some Nicaraguan viso. The binder is also Nicaraguan.

"People have a conception that Dominican tobaccos are mild," said Perez-Carrillo. "When they try this, they're going to see the difference." He said the Dominican Piloto Cubano and Corojo were grown in small quantities. "Some of the tobacco there's only 100, 200 tareas grown, enough for 200 or so bales," he said.

If all goes according to plan, the cigars will reach shops in July, before the summer trade show. They are expected to retail for around $9 to $11 per cigar.

"Just sampled the 5 7/8 x 60 in both Maduro and Ecuadorian Sumatra. I usually detest 60+ ring gauge cigars, and I am bored by the vast majority of maduros on the market, but, despite these two reservations, the Inch maduro instantly entered my personal top 25 list of American-market cigars. Also got to see the final version of the "antique ruler" band. It's excellently rendered, and will look beautiful on the dark maduro wrapper. I look forward to finding out what consumers make of this cigar--I know I'll be recommending it to anyone who'll listen!" —June 11, 2012 17:25 PM