Cigar Aficionado

Sitting Down with La Gloria’s Ernesto Perez-Carrillo

Being in Little Havana just isn’t complete without a visit to Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, the maker of La Gloria Cubana cigars. I stopped by El Credito Cigars, his cigar factory and shop on Calle Ocho, near the corner of 11th Avenue, earlier this week for some lunch and a chat about cigars.

Ernesto is a great guy, and I’ve known him since I started at Cigar Aficionado 12 years ago. His cigar factory was the first one I ever visited, and I have a fond memory of this amazing baggie of unbanded lonsdales he gave me the first time I went to his factory, and how flavorful (and powerful) they were.

We had a lunch of traditional Cuban fare at La Caretta, a few blocks north of his factory, we each tossed back a sweet Cuban coffee, then we headed back to El Credito to smoke and talk.

Ernesto walked into the small aging room at El Credito and reached for a box of La Glorias. Inside were a few unbanded torpedos. He handed one to me. It had that classic torpedo shape that El Credito is known for—back in the day, there was a time that only smokes rolled by one of Ernesto’s rollers, or those who worked for Rolando Reyes Sr., had that classic Cuban-style pyramid shape outside of Cuba. I lit it up, and was hit by that strong, familiar flavor of a La Gloria Cubana.

“I like cigars that are complex,” Ernesto said, describing the house style of his cigars. He wants smokes with taste, with flavor, that make a cigar smoker sit back and say yeah, there’s great stuff in here. The pyramid was excellent, and had that complex taste.

We chatted awhile and walked around the small factory, which has about ten to dozen rollers. Only a few La Glorias are rolled here now, with the vast majority made in the Dominican Republic. We shot some video, which you’ll see it soon in Cigar Cinema, and made our way to the cigar shop adjacent to the rolling room, where you can buy all types of La Glorias and other El Credito cigars.

As I took yet another cup of Cuban coffee (the cigar industry is fueled by caffeine) I hear Ernesto talking about one of the cigars on the shelf.

“Did you say that’s six years old?” I asked. Ernesto nodded: it was a box of El Rico Habano Double Coronas in maduro wrapper. El Ricos are Ernesto’s second brand, but one that he’s truly proud of. I’ve always found them a little stronger and drier than La Glorias, truly fun cigars to smoke and nearly always very, very good. Turns out he no longer makes the Double Corona Maduro size, and he has an inventory of a few thousand cigars left.

I like aged smokes. If you do as well, and you enjoy El Rico in maduro wrapper, you might want to drop in on the El Credito cigar factory shop in Miami, the only place they’re being sold. Just a little tip.