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An Interview with Jose Padrón

Chairman, Piloto Cigars Inc.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Gina Gershon, Sep/Oct 98

(continued from page 13)

Padrón: I produce tobacco to my taste but I can't smoke it all myself. First of all, the filler, which is the detail that others have overlooked these last few years, needs to be well cured. But the wrapper, too, must be well aged so that when you smoke a cigar, your mouth is left with a smooth taste.

CA: What was the reason you created a 30th-anniversary cigar?

George Padrón: We introduced the Anniversary in 1994 to commemorate our 30th anniversary of being in business. It was something special as we went to nationwide distribution.

CA: Are you going to continue that line for many years to come?

Padrón: It will continue.

CA: Why did you decide to box-press the cigars?

Padrón: Because they reminded me of the squared cigars of Cuba that I used to smoke. It is the only thing that I have actually copied from a good Cuban cigar. Everything else about the cigars is based on my own experience. Once, in 1965, I was making a No. 4 size and selling it for 30 cents apiece. I was selling the box for six dollars. Someone came to the factory and told me that he had 1,000 empty boxes of H. Upmann. He said he'd pay me $10 a box if I'd just make a cigar just like the H. Upmann. I told him that the one I would make for him, if I would even do it, would be better than the H. Upmann. I said I had no need to imitate anyone else and I wasn't going to start with him. After that, I could still go to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

CA: So many other factories have contracts to make other brands. Why don't you do that?

Padrón: When you have a factory, you must make the cigars all the same. A cigar factory that has to make more than one brand can no longer control its production. You can't make one brand and distinguish it from another; it's impossible. In my case, I never wanted to do it. If I had wanted to, this year I could have produced 10 million cigars or 20 million, having someone make 5 million here and 7 million there. I tell you: no no no. Why? Because we are concentrating on having the best brand, including those produced in Cuba.

CA: George, when did you enter the cigar business?

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