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One of the pleasures of cigar smoking is that the joy it brings can be magnified by other leisurely pursuits and hobbies. You can partake in a classic activity, like cigar drink pairing, or enjoy a cigar with an espresso and a weekend bookish endeavor. The aromas and flavors of cigars can set the mood for a well-earned break from our other worries.

In that vein, we recently joined Ernesto Perez-Carrillo on a Zoom call to discuss the many joys of his life, including smoking cigars and reading. He is an avid reader with a wide-range of preferred genres that span crime, business development, and spirituality. Ernesto discussed the features he enjoys most in books, and commonalities found in titles he just can’t put down. A box of cigars paired with one of his favorite reads can make the perfect cigar gift.

It’s hardly a surprise that he gravitates toward fiction that contains gorgeously written prose, the beautiful descriptive passages that turn their gaze toward far-flung locales with a realist’s precision—the architectural gem that is Barcelona or a verdant forest. This is similar to the ambiance that he creates when blending cigars. He is making a conscious choice to create cigars that are enjoyable to the aficionado and beginners alike.

So what else do Ernesto’s favorite books and his successful cigars have in common? He knows he has read a great book when it stays with him long after the last page was turned. Similarly, a Carrillo cigar permeates the room with its pleasant aroma for days after it has been enjoyed.


A Chat with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo


What follows is an interview with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo that has been edited for clarity.

Armando Yanez: What kind of books engage or resonate with you?

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo: I like a lot of business development books. I’ve read a few business books and they all seem to have a common theme. They seem to explain the same concept differently. There are some by Peter Drucker and other writers that I’ve really liked.

For a time, I read a lot of Japanese writers like Taiichi Ohno who helped invent the Toyota manufacturing system.

There’s a few books I’ve read that really stand out in other categories such as Spanish, French, and Scandinavian crime novels. I enjoy authors like Fred Vargas and Georges Simenon. In Spanish, there’s this guy, Juan Gómez-Jurado, who wrote Reina Roja (Red Queen), that I like a lot. It’s part of a trilogy that’s really outstanding.

I also like to read some spiritual books, from authors like Eckhart Tolle, Anthony de Mello, and Osho. These are some of my favorite books to read.

Lately I’ve been getting into Spanish novels. I’m reading one book by Carlos Ruiz Zafrón, El Juego del Ángel (The Angel’s Game). Great book. I like to read books that have a counterpart in the real world. I read them in Spanish and enjoy that they’re about the different cities in Spain.

There are some books that are outstanding, like this one I’m reading by Ruiz Zafrón, who also wrote La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind). He writes books that are very descriptive. When I read a book, I want to feel fully present. When they talk about different places, like a forest, I like to imagine them as if I am there.

I also have visited some of the places I’ve read about, like Madrid and Barcelona. These are places I can relate to because I’ve been there, you know? This is very much the case with books by Juan Gomez-Jurado. I think I know I really liked a book when I have to think a lot about what I just read.

Armando Yanez: Do you especially enjoy books that are philosophical and descriptive?

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo: Yeah, both. The ones where you can imagine the ambiance because of detailed passages. After reading, I think, man, “that’s really interesting and deep.”

That’s the case with books by Juan Gómez-Jurado. The other books are Loba Negra (Black Wolf) and Rey Blanco (White King). It’s a trilogy about Antonia Scott. I’ve read two others by him and they’re okay. They’re your typical contemporary Spanish fiction.

I like reading about the protagonist in Reina Roja because the woman is a genius, but she has her demons—dark thoughts are racing through her mind all the time. For example, one of her rituals is that she thinks about ways of committing suicide for three minutes a day. Another, is that her husband is in a vegetative state in the house.

Armando Yanez:  So her life is incredibly difficult?

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo: It is, but she’s a genius who is out to get criminals who leave hardly any trace. She knows just how to catch them and how they were able to pull the whole thing off. Supposedly, she’s a person who is highly trained, one of 40 or maybe only a handful in the world.

She also has to take pills that try to set her straight for a bit, but she can only take them when she’s working. There are definitely some fantastical elements in the book that contribute to very interesting circumstances.

A book like Reina Roja can be 300 or 400 pages and I still read through them in a week. When I don’t like a book, it will take me months to read it.


Ernesto’s Top Books to Pair with Cigar Smoking


These books can be a wonderful gift for cigar lovers:

  • Peter F. Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices
  • Juan Gómez-Jurado, Reina Roja (Red Queen)
  • J N Kapferer & V Bastien, The Luxury Strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands
  • Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
  • Jack Trout, Trout on Strategy: Capturing Mindshare, Capturing Markets

Pair these reads with E.P. Carrillo’s best cigars to smoke and you’ll create a noteworthy experience.


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