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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 5)

CA: Isn't your Miami factory in Little Havana, near Ernesto Carillo's El Credito?

Padrón: Ernesto is on 8th Street and 11th and we are on Flagler, which is eight blocks north and four blocks west. But at first, I rented a space that cost me $62 per month; I rented it on March 29, 1964. I applied for the license to be able to manufacture cigars but I didn't have the money for the bond. I just didn't have the money--I had nothing.

CA: Were there many cigarmakers in Miami in those days?

Padrón: Just one--Camacho, I think. There may have already been one other brand, Primo del Rey, being made there.

CA: How did you decide what tobacco to use? Your experience was with Cuban tobacco, and of course it was unavailable.

Padrón: I tried blends with tobacco from Puerto Rico, Brazilian mata fina and Connecticut broadleaf. I ended up making a blend from those tobaccos and I also used some Cuban-seed tobacco from Honduras later on. I never made a green cigar with the double claro wrapper. I just started out with 200 cigars a day. Then it occurred to me to invent La Fuma.

CA: What was the tobacco you used in that cigar?

Padrón: It was all Connecticut broadleaf.

CA: One hundred percent broadleaf?

Padrón: One hundred percent, and you won't believe the price. The grower sold me 100 pounds at $70. That's 70 cents a pound.

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