Following the Cuban Embargo, José Orlando Padron left Cuba after his family’s tobacco farms had been seized by the government. Once a supporter of the revolution, Padron’s optimism that things would change for the better quickly faded as Castro’s tactics erased the productive and satisfying life the Padrons built for themselves as tobacco growers.
There, he vowed to recreate the indulgent cigars of his native Cuba. Surviving on government assistance for a short time and working as a carpenter, José Orlando eventually saved enough money ($600) to open a modest cigar factory on West Flagler Street in Miami in 1964. The first Padron cigars would hardly be on par with the brand’s reputable award-winning lineup today.
Despite its rudimentary recipe, the cigar gained a popular following with Cuban émigrés and made the Padron brand known in Miami and other local Florida markets. The company began importing Nicaraguan tobacco in 1967. Demand soared and Padron built his first Nicaraguan factory in 1970. In Nicaragua, José Orlando discovered a true reflection of the beloved Cuban tobaccos he grew in his youth.
The original Padron cigars are well-established thanks to the persistence of José Orlando’s youngest son, Jorge Padron. When Jorge completed his MBA and came on board with the company in the early 1990s, it was his mission to expand the brand nationally and move beyond its local Miami audience. The family attended their first cigar tradeshow in 1993 and convinced hesitant retailers to try the rich, Cuban-seed Nicaraguan cigars they produced.
It is handcrafted in a wide variety of traditional Cuban shapes like the long and slender Panetela (6. 875 x 36) and Magnum (9 x 49), as well as thicker ring gauges like the #4000 (6. 5 x 54), #5000 (5. 5 x 56), and #7000 (7. 25 x 60).
Its spicy and woody flavors serve as the perfect introduction to Padron. It also represents the brand’s most accessible price points at between $5. 70 and $10. 40 per cigar. Cigar lovers smoking Padron 1964 Anniversary for the first time often ask if the cigars were actually rolled back in 1964.
Padron 1964 Anniversary was released back in 1994 to commemorate the company’s 30th anniversary – the first of many commemorations. Originally, the cigar was allocated in small quantities as it is rolled exclusively from rare and well-aged tobaccos, the youngest of which is six years old. Padron 1964 is the blend that immediately elevated the brand.
It was different, but in a very traditional way. The intrigue Padron 1964 created prompted cigar connoisseurs in the mid-1990s to embrace a more full-bodied cigar. During this period, the Padron family promoted their reputation as cigar-makers who blended cigars strictly for their own palates and who only sold what they didn’t smoke themselves.
Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo is among the most popular cigars in the entire brand today. The blend is well-known for its rich profile of cocoa, cinnamon, cedar, and cayenne pepper. José Orlando Padron was born in 1926. Padron 1926 Series was blended in honor of his 75th birthday. The cigar debuted in 2002.
It was an instant hit, but was also released in highly limited quantities. In 2004, Padron 1926 Series 40th Anniversary Natural scored 93 points in Cigar Aficionado and was ranked as the magazine’s very first ‘#1 Cigar of the Year.’ All Padron 1926 cigars are handmade from tobaccos aged a minimum of eight years.
The original release was packaged in ornate, hand-painted boxes of 40 cigars. They are extremely collectible if you can find them today. In 2007, Padron 1926 Series #9 Natural earned the company its second ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ title, in addition to scoring the brand’s highest rating to date with 97 points.
Technically part of the Padron 1926 Series, Padron 80 Years and Padron 1926 Series #90 commemorate José Orlando’s 80th and 90th birthdays, respectively. Padron 80 Years is a sharply tapered Diadema, only rolled by the factory’s most experienced cigar-makers. Padron 1926 Series #90 is actually rolled in a round format, in lieu of the brand’s iconic box-pressed shape.
5 x 52 cigar is presented in an elegant tube which encapsulates its dramatic flavors. The cream-colored version is for the Natural wrapper and the maroon tube is for the Maduro. Once characterized by Cigar Aficionado as “tobacco hoarders” – an accurate appraisal of the family’s practice of sitting on large stores of tobacco for very long periods of time – the notion only added to the company’s mystique.
It’s no surprise six different Padron Family Reserve cigars make appearances in Cigar Aficionado’s ‘Top 10.’ Growing up in Cuba, José Orlando learned very precise techniques for fermenting tobacco for extended periods of time. It is during the aging and fermentation process when the tobacco is elevated to its optimal taste.
Much of the family’s success is owed to patience. They understand it’s essential to possess vast inventories of tobacco to insure every leaf is given unlimited time to mature. Luxuriant, earthy notes of dark chocolate, fresh ground coffee, and silky spices characterize the lingering, succulent finish Padron Family Reserve cigars deliver.
Padron #85 was made in honor of José Orlando Padron’s 85th birthday. Padron #44, Padron #45, Padron #46, and Padron #50 each celebrate corresponding anniversaries of the company. When Padron #50 was first released, a limited number of gorgeous humidors were handmade, containing 50 cigars in a special blend and size not available for individual sale.
The entire package sold for over $5,000. Padron Damaso is named for José Orlando’s grandfather and is the youngest brand in the company’s portfolio. Damaso reflects evolution. Some might say risk. Jorge Padron stepped away from the family’s customary formula of exclusively using Nicaraguan tobaccos and instead blended Damaso with a golden blond Ecuador Connecticut wrapper leaf.