2020’s Top Cigar of the Year: It’s finally a new year and Cigar Aficionado has given us the perfect escape from the struggles of 2020, with its highly anticipated Top 25 Cigars of the Year list. This year E.P. Carrillo takes its second number one spot with the E.P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel. Following in the footsteps of it’s predecessors ( the La Historia and Encore ) the Pledge does not disappoint . Made at the Perez- Carrillo factory in the Dominican Republic, the Pledge Prequel is a dark & spicy Habano Robusto with bold flavors and stellar construction.
About Ernesto Perez-Carrillo: Ernesto was born with cigar making in his blood. His father began as a roller in Cuba and eventually Ernesto Sr. would work his way up and purchase a small cigar factory called El Credito in Havana. The Perez family did well in Cuba until the revolution began. Under the uncertainty of the new Cuban government, the Perez-Carrillo Family moved to the U.S. and re-established El Credito in the Little Cuba neighborhood of Miami. The Family found some success in Miami establishing itself as a local brand. Initially Ernesto found little interest in Cigars. It wasn’t until a foray into Jazz and some mis-adventures In New York that his passion for cigars really took root. Ernesto Returned to Miami and dedicated himself to learning the cigar trade from his father. Ernesto eventually took over El Credito from his father, but sales were stagnant and the future was once again uncertain. In 1982 fortunes changed when he experienced a Cuban Davidoff. His passion was re-ignited and Ernesto knew what kind of cigars he needed to make.
Finding inspiration: After smoking a Cuban Davidoff, Ernesto developed the La Gloria Cubana in the early 90’s. The La Gloria Cubana was an instant success. Impressively after its release the La Gloria Cubana Torpedo was on backorder for 12 months. Adding to the success, the newly published Cigar Aficionado rated four of the nine La Gloria Cubana’s at 90+. El Credito’s winning streak continued and in 1999 The Perez-Carrillo family sold the company to Swedish Match.
After the Sell: Ernesto continued to work with El Credito until 2009 when he separated from the company to begin work on a new Legacy. E.P. Carrillo Cigars. In the fertile Cibao Valley in the Dominican Republic, Ernesto founded E.P. Carrillo on the principles of consistency, tradition, and passion. Under Ernestos watchful eye, E.P. Carillo Cigars are crafted with a diverse variety of blends and sizes to satisfy both new and veteran smokers.
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Successes: The E.P.C. brand really gained traction in 2014 with the release of the La Historia when it won no. 2 cigar of the year for 2014. The La Historia was followed up with the Encore Majestic which took Cigar Aficionado Cigar of the Year in 2018. E.P. Carrillo is once again topping the Cigar Aficionado list with the Pledge Prequel, the third installment in the line as number one.
About Cigar Aficionados’ List: Taking any top billing on any list is an achievement, but what makes being number one on the Cigar Aficionado list such and impressive accomplishment? Cigar Aficionado is widely considered among the premier cigar magazines. Founded in 1992, they gained popularity from their emphasis on interviews and covers with celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson, Charles Barkley, and Fidel Castro; which made cigars cool and helped start the cigar boom of the 1990s. The Magazine cemented its status as the go to cigar publication after its interview with Fidel Castro in 1994. Cigar Aficionado was on the fore front of rebranding cigars from a hobby for rich old men to a diverse global culture. Their contributions to the global cigar conversation gives their opinions weight and their number one pick well deserved notoriety.
How Cigars are Selected: Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 Cigars of the Year list is the most anticipated and prestigious cigar list of the year. They propose their process for deciding the list is long and unbiased. They begin by collecting, tasting and reviewing a diverse selection of cigars released throughout the year. Next, they do a blind testing identifying cigars that standout in taste, construction and design. The top cigars from the blind testing are re-reviewed and rated against each other. Finally the top 25 are named to the list. Hundreds of cigars are debuted every year but only a few make it on Cigar Aficionado’s list and only one can be number one.
About the E.P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel: The new blend immediately stands out, providing a pleasing presentation and taste. The vibrant blue box and band pop in both the humidor and on the shelves. The cigar itself sports a dark oily wrapper, slightly box pressed. In a robusto size, the E.P. Carrillo Pledge Prequel starts off strong with heavy notes of spice and pepper overloading the senses. As the Pledge burns, the strong spice and pepper notes mellow as notes of cedar, cream, cocoa, leather, and earth become noticeable.
About the Pledge: The Pledge Prequel is made in the Dominican Republic from a U.S. Connecticut Habano wrapper, using an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The construction of the cigar is fantastic as the Pledge burns evenly and had a smooth draw. Though the Pledge had an intense start, the overall strength of the cigar was medium. The smoking time is a little over and hour.
Our Take: The E.P. Carrillo Pledge was an interesting smoke with many changes in its flavor and intensity. The construction was excellent with a great draw and burn making for an enjoyable experience. Congratulations too Ernesto and the crew at E.P. Carrillo for making both a great cigar and taking number one from Cigar Aficionado. Drop by Renegade Cigars to experience the E.P. Carrillo Pledge and tell us what you think.
- Chris Steele