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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 17)

Padrón: 3,600 prisoners.

CA: That's incredible.

Padrón: It was followed by some sacrifice. Not a business sacrifice, because I have already told you that the business did not decrease. On the contrary, it increased. It was what happened with my family and the tension in my factory. I had to put a camera system up to protect ourselves. It's still there. My car had to have an automatic starter. My house had alarms. That is the sacrifice. In regard to the business, I think that the people in Miami realized that what was happening was an injustice. Because the result of what we did came out later.

CA: Do you have any pictures of you or your family when you lived in Cuba?

Padrón: All that was left behind, but if I were to bring a picture of the farm now, it would cause me great pain for you to see it because it is destroyed.

CA: How do you compare the taste and flavor of your cigar to a Cuban cigar?

Padrón: The Cuban cigar is still different. We have tried to re-create the flavor from the early days, but it still isn't the same. We have come close to it but not quite. I would like to say that all of Cuba isn't good for tobacco growing. There are some parts that are just perfect for growing but then there are areas that are useless, just like in Nicaragua. For example, in Nicaragua there are recently opened-up areas that are not good. We have farms in certain areas, and I have tried tobacco from every farm in Nicaragua--all of them. I have arrived at the conclusion that there are just some farms that can't be blended together. It has taken me five years to get the right tobacco in the ground and it still hasn't become the cigar that I'm capable of producing in Nicaragua. The goal has always been to provide a substitute cigar for the Cubans living in Miami. But which is the better cigar? It's not that one is better than the other--they are different. Now there is no doubt that a Cuban cigar smoker can have one of our cigars and he will be satisfied; that is an important word because there are many cigars that don't satisfy. You smoke one of our cigars, and you notice that it has flavor.

CA: Is all the tobacco used for the regular Padrón cigar grown in Nicaragua?

Padrón: Yes, all of it, and all of it is Havana seed. That's one of the problems that we are having. When you see a picture, you'll notice how different one plant of Habano is to just any ordinary plant: you'll notice the veins. Never does one vein coincide with another in the Habano tobacco.

CA: Before the revolution of the Sandinistas, they say that the tobacco from Nicaragua was the best outside of Cuba. But during the revolution and the Sandanista government, the quality of the tobacco and the cigars suffered. Are we getting to where the tobacco is returning to its original state?

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