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Aliados V.C.F. By Ernesto Perez Carillo (English)



By Ernesto Perez Carillo

E.P. Carillo

To understand the genesis of this cigar, we need to go back to 1950, to Calle Ocho, Southwest 8 Street, in the heart of a neighborhood nicknamed Little Havana. It was here that Cuban exiles began flocking to make this a place where the cultural heritage of their homeland would be preserved and celebrated. In Calle Ocho, you can sip a good mojito, play a game of dominoes (for those who know Rick Rodriguez, he made his Bones cigar in memory of domino games) and... smoke a delicious hand-rolled cigar.

Calle Ocho is synonymous with a famous local name, Rolando Reyes Sr.

It was in 1971 that Reyes Sr, who had worked in the cigar world from a very early age, especially with Havana's most renowned manufacturers, arrived in the United States and launched his Cuba Aliados cigar brand.

He set up a rather original working system that quickly bore fruit and propelled his brand to the top, a position he would hold until the 90s.

His day began at 3pm and lasted until around midnight, when alone in the factory, he would inspect each cigar one by one, looking for imperfections. He took notes and left post-its with his instructions. But his day was far from over, for a few hours after the lights went out at around midnight, his friends would join him to talk about their memories of Cuba, enjoy a bottle of wine with his cigars. Their detailed opinions on the aromas were a great help to Rolando. So much so, that when the factory opened, the day shift had only to get down to work, taking into account the handwritten notes filled in by the experts' analyses. 

This daily (and nightly) ritual set the pace for the entire golden age. Rolando Reyes Sr. became Calle Ocho's most respected master blender. Aliados cigars were coveted the world over. The 1990s marked the peak of the brand's reputation thanks to the cigar boom.

But he paid a high price for his perfectionism, as he found it difficult to pass on his knowledge and to delegate; something he had to resolve to do little by little as he grew older. At the dawn of the new century, subsequent generations were no longer able to keep up with the demanding mixing and rolling imposed by the brand's founder. In 2010, discounters bought the brand, two years before Rolando's death. 

In the summer of 2021, VCF CEO Fred Vandermarliere bought back the Aliados brand to give it new life within the Oliva range.

As you know, it's a small world: it just so happened that Ernesto Perez Carillo, a former student of Rolando Reyes Sr. and a member of his circle of friends on those famous nights in Calle Ocho, heard about the takeover. So he contacted Fred V. with just one question: how could he help to restore Aliados to its former glory?

The kind of help Fred couldn't refuse. Ernesto Perez Carillo has now made a name for himself. He's considered the best Master Blender in the world. Over the past five years, he has twice signed the world's best cigar, and once claimed second place. Add to this his history with Rolando, and you have the ideal man for a return to the brand's roots. 

But was that enough? Would they restore the cigar's authenticity in a fair and perfect manner? Would the Fred-Ernesto pair achieve their goal?

They had a lot of hard work ahead of them: finding the right tobaccos, the right blends, taking care of the packaging... In short, they divided up the tasks and rolled up their sleeves.

Ernesto scoured the world both for answers to his questions and to find the tobacco he needed. More than a hundred blends were sampled, and after giving his time, sweat and soul, Ernesto has made Aliados a Phoenix rising from the ashes, with a taste that gives it its authenticity.

I'd like to set the record straight: I've heard a few friends say "I can't find Ernesto's signature in this cigar", and I agree with them entirely. Simply because it's not an Ernesto Perez Carillo cigar, but a cigar made by E.P. Carillo to pay tribute to his Master, to whom he owes so much.


This range can be found in our five-module civets: Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, Regordo and Churchill.

I've tasted 4 of these modules and I'd like to share my impressions with you.


I'm holding a cigar in front of me, with a magnificent wrapper with reddish highlights, well-oiled and criss-crossed with magnificent, perfectly crushed veins. It's enhanced by two rings in white, gold, red, black & red ochre. The one on the foot bears the inscriptions: Cabinet Edition, handmade, original blend. The whole is set in a circle dotted with stars and a sunrise symbol on a calm sea. The other has a circle too, this time a reminder of the cigar's origins with the words Cuba Cigars, but between the waves and the sun we can see Aliados in gold letters. It really makes me think of a renewal, a return... The light always comes back.

Below it reads: By Ernesto Perez Carillo.

On the nose and raw, I have multiple and varied flavors such as cream, fatty earth, low court and 80% chocolate.

It's time for the ignition: the foot kisses divinely and the smoke spreads into the tasting room. It brings me cedar and clay, quickly followed by cinnamon, freshly tanned leather, black pepper and cocoa.

A pinch of citrus completes this first wagonload of flavors. 


E.P. Carillo

I notice that as I progress, the strength increases slightly and stabilizes at the medium level. Combustion is perfect, as is the draw.

I can't say I'm taking off, but the pleasure is there, and that's the main thing. I'm now entering a place dotted with vanilla pods, enhanced by beautiful touches of dark chocolate, strong coffee and fern, as well as hay.

At one point, a dose of tannin reminded me of a powerful red wine.

I've still got a few puffs left before I let it die its beautiful death and return it to Mother Earth, with a thought for Rolando.

The tastings included 2 Robustos, 1 Toro, 1 Regordo and 1 Churchill.

Respectively from : Robusto 12.7 cm for cepo 50, Torpedo 15.24 cm for cepo 54, Toro 15.24 cm for cepo 52, Regordo 15.24 cm for cepo 60, Churchill 17.78 cm for cepo 50. 

Wrapper : Ecuador.

Binder: Nicaragua.

Filler: Nicaragua & Rep. dom. 

In conclusion: this is my personal opinion, but if you want to enjoy your tasting to the full, you'll have to disregard the name of E.P. Carillo, who has stepped aside and put himself at the service of the project, i.e. a tribute to his Mentor and friend, while respecting his love of a job well done: this is a very well-constructed and perfectly balanced cigar.

I think that from where he stands Mr. Rolando Reyes Sr. must approve of the rebirth of his cigar thanks to the hard work of Fred & Ernesto.

All that's left is for me to invite you to visit your local civet shop and make your own impressions.


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