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Cigar Aficionado's Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Andrew Nagy
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

(continued from page 2)

Then, on September 15, 1960, state militiamen, on behalf of Fidel Castro, seized all the holdings of Menendez, Garcia y Cia. Barred from selling their own brand in Cuba, Menendez and his father started rolling a new brand they called Montecruz at a cigar factory they built on the Canary Islands. Montecruz sold well in the United States, and in 1972, the Menendez family sold the brand to conglomerate Gulf + Western.

Since then, Menendez has worked for many different companies, from General Cigar Co. to Tabacalera/Altadis, and finally, at the age of 76, back again with General Cigar. Along the way he has produced several popular cigar brands, such as Partagás, Macanudo, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta.

José Orlando Padrón
Chairman, Padrón Cigars Inc.,
Estelí, Nicaragua

It’s hard to imagine that Nicaragua’s Padrón Cigars, a three-time winner of Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year and maker of some of the most highly rated and coveted cigars in the world, started from such humble beginnings.

The year was 1962, and the Cuban émigré José Orlando Padrón, whose family had grown tobacco since the 1880s, had just arrived in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, carrying hardly anything but a dream. That dream? To open a factory and produce great cigars for the Cuban exiles living in Miami that compared with the ones they used to smoke in Cuba.

Padrón found work as a gardener and began saving what little money he could. Soon after, a friend gave Padrón a small hammer, enabling him to take carpentry work at night as well. After nearly two years of working day and night, he managed to save $600, enough to rent a small space, and Padrón Cigars was born. Next came the revelation that great tobacco was grown in Nicaragua, and he moved his operations there only to face more obstacles in the form of fire, civil war and an embargo.

Forty-eight years later, Padrón Cigars, still following the quality-over-quantity philosophy stressed by Señor Padrón, 86, is now a leader in the cigar industry, its name synonymous with class.

“That little hammer is a keepsake,” says Padrón. “It’s something to show my sons and everybody else. To make them aware of the sacrifices I had to make in order to get to this point.”

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo
Owner, EPC Cigar Co., Miami

It was 1982 when Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, inspired by a Cuban Davidoff, began working on La Gloria Cubana. A decade later, Cigar Aficionado would give the blend a series of high ratings and publish an article about Perez-Carrillo’s El Credito Cigars factory, catapulting the local boutique into a national sensation.


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