Trilogy, Merriam-Webster defines it as: a series of three dramas or literary works or sometimes three musical compositions that are closely related and develop a single theme. The word is circa 1661 when it seems to have first been used. Today we seem to hear this word a lot and in reference to many things from movies and books to TV series and plays. But what about Cigars. Is there a Trilogy of Cigars?
In fact, there is just that and one that has received remarkably high accolades from the world of cigars. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has this Trilogy known as the Perez-Carrillo Series and in the series, there are 3 of the best cigars that Ernesto has ever made. La Historia E-III, Encore Majestic, and Pledge Prequel. All of these have achieved high marks in the industry, but Pledge has broken the records as being the best cigar in the Trilogy. How exactly did this Trilogy come to be?
In 2013 the Perez-Carrillo family was looking to launch a new cigar and Lissette Perez-Carrillo wanted something that represented not only the history of the family but was the best cigar that her dad ever made. She worked with a local Miami artist to come up with the design for the band and depict in artwork the women in the family that have been part of Ernesto’s tobacco legacy, his mother and daughter. Now the task for blending and creating the cigar! Ernesto worked at length to find what he felt was the best cigar he has ever blended. He tried many versions of wrappers combined with the binder and fillers and felt the pressure to bring to market the best of the best. Of course, this took time and initially Ernesto was nervous, after all this cigar represented not only his family history but also had his mother on the band. This cigar had to make the woman that Ernesto says was his inspiration and guiding force proud to have her image emblazoned on the band forever, his Mom! Finally, Ernesto gets the blend, and we are ready for market. Well with all great stories there is always a wrinkle, and this too has one. In 2014 at the industry trade show the La Historia is launched and people are raving about it. Ernesto is smoking it and after several La Historia cigars, he realizes it is not the best cigar yet. He returns to the factory and makes one last change and this is what La Historia is today. The change you ask? He moved half a leaf in the fillers to a better position and in turn gets the Number 2 position from Cigar Aficionado in 2014.
Of course, Ernesto was ecstatic that his cigar garnered such a high spot but being #2 is not being the absolute best cigar, the Number 1 spot. So, in the fashion of the master himself, Ernesto went back to blending his next best cigar. Of course, the family wanted to have another cigar in the Perez-Carrillo Series and pushed for Ernesto’s masterpiece to be just that. So, Lissette gets to work on the packaging for the next cigar in the Trilogy and Encore is born. Ernesto was deeply challenged with Encore since he wanted to make a cigar that used one country’s tobaccos only, a puro, and he discovered that the tobaccos he liked were not as easy as he thought to use. Faithful to his belief in these tobaccos, specifically the wrapper, Ernesto kept at it and the more he tried the more he learned. Eventually the cigar began to form and become something that was incredibly good. But it was not yet the best and more learning became part of the process. As the tobacco showed Ernesto what it could do Ernesto showed the tobacco what he wanted. In the end, this writer believes, that both Ernesto and the tobacco came to an agreement and chose the same path. That path was to be Number 1. In 2018, at the industry Trade show Ernesto unveils for the second time the Encore. It was the much-awaited new cigar that year, and it was definitely worth the wait. In December of 2018 Cigar Aficionado awarded Encore, the Perez-Carrillo family and Ernesto himself the Number 1 Cigar of the Year. This was Ernesto’s crowning achievement, or so he thought. For a man who never settles, Ernesto had an idea, he wanted to prove the critics wrong and make a powerful cigar his way. The way that he learned from his family before him by using the tobaccos and traditional processes that have made him who he is. This would be a daunting task since Ernesto was so accustomed to making his cigars the way he always knew. Basically, Ernesto would need to reinvent himself and do it without trading in his traditions.
Then, we at the company, got the shock that we did not expect. Lissette and her brother Ernesto insisted that the new cigar should be part of the Perez-Carrillo Series. At this time, I would dare guess, that no one was thinking about this being a Trilogy of Cigars. Instead, the Perez-Carrillo Series was so widely known, it just made sense to have a third cigar in the series. So, in Ernesto’s fashion he set out to go make his cigar and Lissette set out to find the name for the new cigar. At the 2019 Big Smoke, held in Las Vegas, the consumers got to vote for three names which everyone at E.P. Carrillo liked. “We wanted the consumer to vote because this in the end is their cigar” Lissette has stated on many occasions. And so, the consumer voted, and Pledge was born. Pledge is Ernesto’s commitment to never stop working with the absolute best tobaccos and bringing new and innovative blends to the consumer. With this in mind Ernesto knew he would have to top himself. Using a wrapper tobacco he remembered from the 1980’s and had barely used at E.P. Carrillo along with tobaccos that he felt were the absolute best Pledge hits the market at the end of Summer 2020 to a small select group of retailers. The world is suffering from a pandemic, so Ernesto knew for Pledge to remain the absolute best it had to be handled exactly right when bringing it to market. Everyone and anyone that smoked this cigar raved about it and that Ernesto once again outdid himself and continued to show that he was the master blender we all knew him to be. So much so that on January 14, 2021, Cigar Aficionado awarded the Number 1 Cigar of the Year 2020 to Pledge Prequel making it the best cigar of the group. So much the best that it earned 98 points, the highest rating for the top spot in the history of Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year awards. Ernesto and his cigars have managed to get the Number 1 spot two out of the last three years, this has only been done once before. Additionally, Cigar Dojo a well know blog, honored Pledge Prequel with the Number 1 spot on their list, and several other awards have been given to Pledge Prequel too.
What does Trilogy mean to Ernesto? Three incredible cigars that are the absolute best cigars in his portfolio. The push from his family to make these three cigars all part of one series, to make a Trilogy of cigars without honestly planning it. For Ernesto it is also to know that his dedication to his craft, his love of tobacco and his love for his family and its history have been recognized by honoring his three best cigars – La Historia E-III, Encore Majestic, and Pledge Prequel. These cigars are his Trilogy!!