Padron cigars - what's the first thing that comes to mind when you see (or hear) those two words? Speaking for myself, it's not a word; first I get a flash of an image of the cigar, specifically the band, but what really comes to mind is their unique flavor. I don't know the science of how the brain does this, but I actually taste that earthy, mocha-laced flavor that makes these cigars so distinctive. I'm sure the same thing happens when you think about one of your Mom's special recipes, or a favorite dessert, wine, beer etc. It seems as though things we ingest that we either really love or hate, we can actually taste in absentia, and when it comes to cigars, even though I have a lot of favorites, for some reason Padron cigars just seem to stand out in that particular way.
Practically every cigar smoker I've met seems to have a special place in their heart for Padrons. It's like they have this mystique about them, not unlike that attributed to Cuban cigars. The difference is, the Cuban cigar mystique has to do mainly with their pedigree, but even more so, the fact that they're illegal. The Padron mystique seems to have more to do with that incredibly unique flavor they have. I'd even go so far as to say that the only cigars as inimitable as the finest Cubans are Padrons. If you're an avid cigar smoker, regardless of any other cigars you smoke, even Cubans for that matter, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Perhaps this excerpt from a 2006 New York Times article on Jose Orlando Padrón sheds some light on their ability to produce such highly coveted cigars:
After the revolution in Cuba, most of the country's big producers shifted operations to the Dominican Republic, but Mr. Padrón swears by Central America, where he says the conditions are most similar to Cuba's. - "A Career Seasoned With Cigar Smoke and Revolution" (The New York Times)
Whether it's their main line, or their Padron Anniversary editions, the consistency and fullness of flavor is beyond reproach. Perhaps Ernesto Perez-Carrillo said it best when we visited him in the DR this past February; we were talking about boutique cigars. Although I'm paraphrasing, essentially he said that "Padron is committed to making only so many cigars per year, and that's it." This gives them much tighter control over their production, therefore there's very little, if any, margin for error." "And he doesn't care," added Carrillo. (Again, I'm paraphrasing.) He didn't mean that in the apathetic sense. What he meant was, they probably could produce more cigars and make more money, but that's not what they're about. They're only concern is making great cigars, which is also Señor Carrillo's philosophy. Both the Padrons and the Carrillos have enjoyed vast success and revenues for generations. Why change simply for profit's sake? As Don Jose Orlando says:
A businessman has to be thinking all the time, dealing with problems. I do it best when I'm smoking.
And he's smoking some pretty darn good cigars, too.