Cigar Aficionado

The Cigar Guys (And Gals) Come to Town

This has been a short but busy work week, especially Monday: I spent the early afternoon with the Perez-Carrillo family, and the early evening with the Quesada family.

There are some similarities here beyond the obvious—each family is among the elite of cigarmakers. You all know Ernesto Perez-Carrillo for his La Gloria Cubana brand, which he shepherded until March, and Manuel Quesada is the famous face behind Fonseca and Casa Magna (our reining Cigar of the Year.) What you might not know is that each man has a younger generation coming up in the business, people in their 20s and 30s who are getting deeply involved in the cigar industry.

Perez-Carrillo left La Gloria to start up a new cigar company with his daughter, Lissette, and son, Ernesto III. (Although we don’t use it in our stories, Perez-Carrillo is actually Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.) Lissette is a lawyer, and Ernesto III (who goes by the knickname Ernie) was in private equity. They are extremely excited to be working with their dad.

Quesada’s two daughters have been working with him for several years now. Patricia, the elder daughter, does administration and accounting, while Raquel is a cigar blender. They are two members of the company’s fifth generation, also known as “The Young Ones,” who have taken a bigger role at their father’s company. They were all there Monday night at the Davidoff store on Madison Avenue showing off a cigar they created together: Patricia and Raquel, their cousins Esther Quesada, Jose Manuel Bermudez, Hostos Fernandez Quesada and the newest member of the next generation, Terence Joseph Reilly.

“The young ones,” their father told me, “are building the pillars for my monument.”

He’s joking of course, but his daughters, nephews and niece have come out with a very fine cigar, largely on their own, the Quesada 35th Anniversary. It’s made with an intriguing combinations of tobaccos not typically used at Matasa, including a wrapper grown in Ecuador from Arapiraca seed, which usually is grown in Brazil. “It’s totally different—we have never used these tobaccos at Matasa before,” said Raquel.

The fifth generation was in town to offer a sneak peek at the cigar, which will be on sale around August. You’ll have to wait a bit longer to try Ernesto’s new smoke—he expects to have that out in November.

There’s some new blood in the cigar industry, and they’re bringing a youthful vigor to the business. That’s a good thing. You’ll read a lot more about them in upcoming issues.

"Not to split hairs, but it is the Quesada 35th Anniversary... and they did an amazing job!" —July 2, 2009 17:48 PM
"Mike, thanks for the note--I've corrected the copy. " —July 3, 2009 12:54 PM