The key region for tobacco growing in the Dominican Republic is the lush Cibao Valley, which many experts feel has only one rival: Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo region. Named for a river that flows through its center, the Cibao Valley is bordered by mountain ranges that help to provide an ideal setting for growing premium tobacco.
The soil is rich, deep and bountiful, and the air is cooled by afternoon breezes. Throughout the Dominican Republic, master blenders find a dizzying array of tobacco that ultimately blend together to comprise a premium cigar.
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has roots that run deep throughout the Dominican Republic. When orders for his former brand, La Gloria Cubana, skyrocketed in the 1990’s, Ernesto could not meet demand with his small factory in Calle Ocho.
At one point, La Gloria Cubana’s Torpedo (rated a 93 by Cigar Aficionado in 1993) was in backorder for 12 months, and the need for a larger factory was obvious. He selected a site in Santiago, Dominican Republic to be his second factory.
When time came to choose a location for the E.P. Carrillo factory, Ernesto knew exactly where it needed to be located. In April 2009, he signed a lease on a 40,000 square foot, stand-alone building in Santiago’s Zona Franca, and immediately began the construction of his dream factory, which he named Tabacalera La Alianza.
Here is where the tobacco is fermented, aged, hand-made, and packaged under the supervision of Ernesto. Spread across 12 rolling tables, experienced cigar-rollers are in essence re-learning their craft as they are trained to roll cigars the “Cuban way” – the cigars are beautifully finished with a triple-cap method.
Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s achievements have been driven largely by an insatiable desire to understand the intricacies of tobaccos from all over the world. “Each tobacco has its own character. You have to treat each tobacco differently and understand how they work together,” he says.