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Top Padrón Cigars: A Retrospective

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Navigating the lauded Padrón portfolio is an indulgent mission. The brand is handmade in Nicaragua and is considered one of the most prestigious makers of premium cigars in the world. There are many outstanding cigars to taste and it’s tough to decide between them. Consider this article the ultimate roadmap to Padrón as we explain each blend, the references to anniversaries and years in the names of the cigars, and the tasting notes for each series. We will also highlight the key awards and ratings Padrón has been honored with over the years as well as the brand’s illustrious history.

Not only has Padrón been honored with Cigar Aficionado’s ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ title a total of four times, but the brand has never been excluded from the publication’s coveted ‘Top 10 Cigars of the Year’ rankings since they began publishing a top 25 list in 2004. Padrón even released a special ‘Cigars of the Year’ sampler featuring its past titleholders. Here are the highest-rated Padron cigars you can buy today followed by an in-depth look at the brand’s history and the tobaccos that go into their cigars.

Padrón Appearances in Cigar Aficionado’s Top 10 Cigars of the Year

2004
#1 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1926 Series 40th Anniversary Natural
93 Points

2005
#3 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo Natural
93 Points

2006
#3 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Imperial Natural
92 Points

2007
#1 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1926 Series No. 9 Natural
97 Points

2008
#2 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 80 Years Maduro
96 Points

2009
#1 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro
95 Points

2010
#4 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 Natural
95 Points

2011
#5 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo Maduro
94 Points

2012
#4 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón Family Reserve 85 Years Natural
94 Points

2013
#4 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Diplomatico Maduro
94 Points

2014
#7 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years Maduro
94 Points

2015
#5 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years Natural
94 Points

2016
#5 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1926 Series No. 90 Natural
94 Points

2017
#2 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1926 Series No. 2 Natural
96 Points

2018
#4 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón Family Reserve No. 44 Natural
95 Points

2019
#2 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1926 Series No. 6 Natural
95 Points

2020
#3 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Hermoso Natural
97 Points

2021
#1 Cigar of the Year:
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Torpedo Natural
97 Points

There are five core Padrón blends. They include the original Padrón (sometimes called the Thousand Series), Padrón 1964 Anniversary, Padrón 1926 Series, Padrón Family Reserve, and Padrón Damaso. Following is a brief overview of the brand’s history and an introduction to each blend.

A Quick History Lesson

The company has been around for many decades, but its heritage can be traced back to the 1800s in Cuba when Damaso Padrón, grandfather of legendary late cigar-maker José Orlando Padrón, arrived from the Canary Islands and planted his first crops of tobacco. José Orlando recalled his grandfather’s rigid character in addition to his love of tobacco – the latter quality continues to migrate through new generations of the Padrón family today.

Following the Cuban trade embargo, José Orlando Padrón left Cuba after his family’s tobacco farms had been seized by the government. Once a supporter of the revolution, Padrón’s optimism that things would change for the better quickly faded as Castro’s tactics eroded the productive and satisfying life the Padrón’s built for themselves as tobacco growers. José Orlando first moved overseas to Spain and then to the U.S., trying his luck in the frigid Northeast before settling in Miami in the early 1960s. 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 Padrón Cigars

The first Padrón cigars would hardly be on par with the brand’s reputable award-winning lineup today. A mix of short and long-filler tobaccos from Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Connecticut was handcrafted by just one cigar roller in a single size, called a Cazador. Despite its rudimentary recipe, the cigar gained a popular following with Cuban émigrés and made the Padrón brand well known in Miami and other local Florida markets. The company began importing Nicaraguan tobacco in 1967. Demand soared and Padrón 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 Padrón: A Thriving Cornerstone

Despite years of political turmoil and having to operate out of Honduras for temporary periods during the 1970s and 1980s, the family endured in Nicaragua. The original Padrón cigars are well-established thanks to the persistence of José Orlando’s youngest son, Jorge Padrón. 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.

The original, all-Nicaraguan blend is available in a Natural and a Maduro wrapper varietal. 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). Padrón Magnum was rated 94 points in a Natural wrapper while numerous shapes in the thousand series have scored 93 points in both wrappers. Its spicy and woody flavors serve as the perfect introduction to Padron. It also represents the brand’s most accessible price points starting around $6 per cigar.

Strength: Medium-Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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Padrón 1964 Anniversary: A Legacy Takes Off

Cigar lovers smoking Padrón 1964 Anniversary for the first time often ask if the cigars were rolled back in 1964. The answer is no, but the blend is certainly aged for a long time. Padrón 1964 Anniversary was released back in 1994 to commemorate the company’s thirtieth 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.

Padrón 1964 is the blend that immediately elevated the brand. The critics loved it as did consumers who were enamored with the sharp box-pressed shapes the cigars were rolled in. It was different, but in a very traditional way. Padrón 1964 prompted cigar connoisseurs in the mid-1990s to embrace a more full-bodied cigar. During this period, the Padrón 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. The strategy was wildly effective. Padrón 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo is among the most popular cigars in the brand’s extensive catalog. The blend is well-known for its rich profile of cocoa, cinnamon, cedar, and cayenne pepper.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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Padrón 1926 Series: The First ‘Cigar of the Year’

José Orlando Padrón was born in 1926. Padrón 1926 Series was blended in honor of his 75th birthday. The cigar debuted in 2002. Like all Padrón cigars, the blend is made in both a Natural and a Maduro wrapper varietal. It was an instant hit but hard to come by at first because it was produced in limited quantities. The Padrón 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’ in 2004.

All Padrón 1926 cigars are handmade from tobaccos aged a minimum of eight years. The 40th Anniversary celebrates the company’s fortieth anniversary. 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, Padrón 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. The blend is known for delivering luscious notes of cashew, coffee bean, cocoa, black pepper and savory Nicaraguan spices with perfect density.

Technically part of the Padron 1926 Series, Padrón 80 Years and Padrón 1926 Series No. 90 commemorate José Orlando’s 80th and 90th birthdays, respectively. Padrón 80 Years is a sharply tapered Diadema, only rolled by the factory’s most experienced cigar-makers. Padrón 1926 Series No. 90 is rolled in a round format, in lieu of the brand’s iconic box-pressed shape. The 5.5 by 52 cigar is presented in an elegant tube which encapsulates its dramatic flavors. The cream-colored tube is for the Natural wrapper, and the maroon tube is for the Maduro.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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Padrón Family Reserve: Every Cigar is a Celebration

Once characterized by Cigar Aficionado as “tobacco hoarders,” the Padron family is known for sitting on large stores of tobacco for very long periods of time, which is how they’re able to make cigars that are simultaneously quite bold and smooth.

In this case, every leaf in a Padrón Family Reserve cigar is more than ten years old, making it the oldest and most expensive line in the Padrón hierarchy. It’s no surprise six different Padrón 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. Allegiance to these old-world methods have set Padrón cigars apart for years. Much of the family’s success is owed to patience. They understand it’s essential to possess vast inventories of tobacco to ensure every leaf is given unlimited time to mature. Luxuriant notes of dark chocolate, gourmet coffee, and earth with an abundant spice characterize the succulent finish Padrón Family Reserve cigars deliver.

The line includes the greatest number of commemorative blends. Padrón No. 85 was made in honor of José Orlando Padrón’s 85th birthday. Padrón No. 44, Padrón No. 45, Padrón No. 46, and Padrón No. 50 each celebrate corresponding anniversaries of the company. When Padrón No. 50 was first released, the only way to try the cigar was to purchase a limited-edition handmade humidor containing 50 cigars blended from a special recipe of tobaccos. Consumers could choose either a Natural or a Maduro version of the cigar, and each humidor sold for over $5,000.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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Padrón Damaso: Turning a Corner

Padrón Damaso is named for José Orlando’s grandfather and is the youngest brand in the company’s portfolio. Damaso reflects evolution. Jorge Padrón 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. In addition, the cigar is rolled in a traditional round shape as opposed to the brand’s iconic box-pressed formats. It furnishes a moderate profile of white pepper, toasted almond, and wood. Damaso was intended to reach a new audience: cigar lovers who prefer milder cigars. In 2017, the blend scored 91 points in Cigar Aficionado.

Strength: Mild-Medium
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut

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Holt’s Collection of Padrón Cigars

Shop our full collection of Padrón cigars, samplers, and more. We stock every Padrón cigar under the sun because connoisseurs can’t get enough of them. When you’re looking for your favorite new Padron, peruse our staff reviews, where your pals at Holt’s offer our impressions of Padron, 1964 Anniversary, 1926 Series, Family Reserve, 40th Anniversary, and 80 Years.  

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