Stellar Stogies: Padron

Padron cigars

Other than football (soccer) players, Padron cigars are probably the most famous thing ever to come out of Nicaragua. And unlike a lot of top-quality cigars, they’re not famous only because they’re good (though they certainly are). They’re famous because they’re reasonably-enough priced to smoke plenty of them... not something you could usually say about a cigar you’d actually want to smoke.

The History of Padron

You’ll have to excuse me for being all artsy-fartsy for a moment, but... researching the history of cigars has brought me to the conclusion that the cigar craft truly is an art form. Each brand is made up of its techniques, its tobacco, and its (often tumultuous) history. Padron Cigars has an especially interesting history... a history which really does seem to reflect in their cigars.

Padron cigars

While the brand itself wasn’t created until the 1960s, the Padron family has been a part of the tobacco industry for well over 100 years. The founder of Padron Cigars, Jose Orlando Padron, was born on a tobacco plantation in Cuba - I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him claim he was laid in a crib made of the stuff. And while he left Cuba in 1961 (a couple of years after the Revolution), he brought his knowledge of and passion for Cuban cigars with him to Miami, Florida.

But passion only gets you so far - a lesson that Jose quickly learned. As a Cuban refugee in Miami, life was hard for Padron. He received $60 monthly in government aid, and was only able to find work sporadically. And while many men might have given up in his place and decided to be, say, a professional tequila-drinker, Jose Orlando saved all he could. And when he had $600 saved up, he started Padron Cigars in Miami in 1964.

Imagine starting a multi-million dollar company like Padron with 600 bucks. But Jose made it happen.

It might be easy to say “that was that,” but unfortunately it wasn’t. Much of Central and South America was (and still is) a volatile place, and things were never easy for Padron. The company moved back and forth from Nicaragua to Honduras for years, with warehouses and factories being burned down and bombed along the way. Padron was even boycotted in the U.S. in the early 1980s because of its ties to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

To be fair, Jose Orlando Padron claims to this day that he had no relationship with Castro. What sparked the boycott was Castro asking Padron for a sample of his cigars - and the photo that was taken of Jose Orlando handing Castro a Padron cigar. When the photo was published in a Miami newspaper, anti-Castro activists (okay, they were actually extremists) encouraged a boycott of his company and actually bombed four of his factories.

Fire, flood, boycott, bombing. Through plenty of turmoil the brand survived… and flourished. Today the company is still run by the Padron family (namely, Jose Orlando’s children and grandchildren), and a Padron Cigar has (arguably) become the best Nicaraguan cigar on the market today.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Are you curious to know what Castro thought of the cigar Padron gave him as a friendly sample? While Castro insisted (and still does, I’m sure) that his own tobacco would always be his favorite, he told Padron that it was a good cigar - and even congratulated him for producing it. Not bad praise from a hard-a** communist dictator, eh?

Photo credit : Padron website

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4 Comments on “Stellar Stogies: Padron”

  1. It never ceases to amaze how the love of tobacco inspires such dedication as is evident with the Padrons and many others in the business. Story after story telling of such endurance and perseverance. Padron speaks of never compromising his quality for production numbers and it is surely evident when you partake in the product.

    Thanks for your article.

  2. These are the best alternatives to a great Cuban cigar. I think this is what folks think of, when they say “non-cuban cigars are getting better, if not surpassing their competition!”

  3. rockstar2577 says:

    These are just great-smoking cigars. And they are very reasonably priced. What’s not to love. There was a good interview with the Padron family here.
    http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/Cigar_Stars_Profile/0,2547,219,00.html

  4. I have a humidor with more than 1000 cigars. I appreciate cigar after murishment in humidor. I smoked a Padron 7000 after 2years in humidor and it was so good. Better than some Monte cristo and Cohiba. If I compare the burning Padron is more egual and resistant than any other brands. For me it is a great cigar.

    I thing we will have to consider nicaraguan cigar as good as cuban. The quality of fabrication is now better than cuban one. It is my opinion excuse me…

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