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Staff Reviews

E.P. Carrillo La Historia Dona Elena Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

As the original master cigar-maker behind the La Gloria Cubana franchise, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo needs little introduction despite his humble beginnings. He took over a fledgling cigar-making operation from his father in the late 1970s. He caught the attention of the editors of Cigar Aficionado in the early 1990s when the publication was itself a fledgling enterprise. A steady stream of positive reviews from the critics preceded Perez-Carrillo’s cigar portfolio as the Cigar Boom of the 1990s kicked into gear, triggering explosive demand.


La Gloria Cubana graduated from a small boutique line to a global label sold in premium shops everywhere. Ernesto, or “Ernie,” as he is known to many, achieved prominent status as a cigar-maker. He sold La Gloria Cubana to General Cigar Company in 1999, but he spent nearly a decade as the brand’s official ambassador, hosting events and cigar tastings in premium retailers around the world.

In 2009 Ernesto started over, debuting his eponymous E.P. Carrillo (EPC Cigar Co.) brand, a company he founded with his children, Lissette and Ernesto III. Riding on an extensive reputation and much anticipation from consumers, the EPC portfolio has fluctuated with hits and misses as Ernesto has established the brand as a force to be reckoned with. In 2018, he scored Cigar Aficionado’s coveted ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ title with E.P. Carrillo Encore, his highest-rated cigar to date. Today, I am reviewing the brand’s next-highest-rated release and Cigar Aficionado’s ‘#2 Cigar of the Year’ for 2014: E.P. Carrillo La Historia.  

I am smoking La Historia in the Dona Elena format with 6.125 x 50 dimensions, which are a touch thinner than a traditional Toro. La Historia is cloaked in a dark and oily San Andrés wrapper leaf, among my favorite varietals. Beneath it lies a complex architecture of Dominican and Nicaraguan long-fillers nestled in an Ecuador Sumatra binder.

Visually, La Historia imparts a stunning impression. An ornate Renaissance-styled cigar band reflects gilded detail with pearlescent light blue and ruby-red colors. A secondary band carries the brand name and a matching blue ribbon adorns the foot. The colors come to life against the wrapper’s toothy shimmer.

Upon cutting the Dona Elena (a shape named for Perez-Carrillo’s grandmother), the cold draw is effortless and presumptuous with notes of hickory, dark cocoa, and nuts. Zesty edges add definition and an element of temptation. La Historia promises to be exceptional across a range of critical pre-light categories.

The cigar lights evenly and showers the palate with bright but heady flavors. Woody, sweet, and peppery notes erupt and jolt the olfactory senses awake without offending. Notes of black pepper, dark chocolate, and roasted espresso beans blend in a nutty amalgam. Dense and slightly sweet aroma wafts into the air in a series of copious draws.

As the first third closes, La Historia is marked with an elevated spice that stops short of becoming abrasive. The cigar marvels with its versatile taste. It intensifies as it progresses but not with the bitter or acidic flavor many stronger cigars reveal by their halfway point. Ernie clearly relies on well-aged tobaccos to craft La Historia. Other cigars in his portfolio express the need for additional rest which has been an occasional criticism, but not La Historia. The recipe seems complete. 

La Historia delivers a lively crescendo of fresh ground coffee beans, roasted chestnuts, and salted cocoa with plucky and piquant aroma as the final third unfolds. A few quick touch-ups to the burn were necessitated but nothing extreme or out of the ordinary. While the critics have showered La Historia with noticeable accolades and ratings, I am bestowing a respectable 89-point score. Ernest Perez-Carrillo blends an impressive cigar with La Historia and one that is worthy of everyone’s curiosity. It’s another fine example of one of the best Mexican wrappers you can taste today.  


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