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An Interview With Jose Orlando Padrón, Chairman, Padrón Cigars Inc.

The patriarch and founder of Padrón Cigars Inc. has been making cigars since 1964.
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Antonio Banderas, Nov/Dec 2005

(continued from page 4)

Q: And how was the tobacco then?
A: It lacked flavor.

Q: What is the key to producing a good blend from Nicaraguan tobacco?
A: The secret is that everybody knows that there are three main tobacco areas, but nobody knows how we blend the tobacco from those farms in order to produce our cigar. That is the secret.

Q: Why don't you ever use tobacco from other countries?
A: I have tried tobacco from Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and from many countries. We have tried them out. I tried various seeds too.

Q: But haven't Padrón cigars been considered Nicaraguan for a while now?
A: Yes nowadays it is. We have used 2 percent Mexican tobacco but we haven't liked the results.

Q: Why do you always use sun-grown wrappers?
A: When you smoke a cigar with a sun-grown wrapper, you taste its flavor. Shade grown tobacco doesn't have flavor. That's the problem. It looks very pretty but it doesn't have the taste we like. There's another factor. Our clients are used to sun-grown seed, and that is what we should keep giving them.

Q: Growing and processing your own tobacco is very important then, no?
A: Exactly. There are many things involved. I am involved in the whole process from the picking of the seed to the smoker's mouth. That is what I have done always. When you buy tobacco from somebody else, he sells tobacco and does not give tobacco the attention that is required. The buyer does not usually get involved in curing and so on. We suffered this experience at the beginning but later I never again went back to this kind of policy. We control every part, and when we haven't been in control [we] decrease production. Padrón has never been afraid of decreasing production.

Q: I have always heard people say that Padrón manufactures cigars following the Cuban way. How do you know the old Cuban method?
A: I did everything as a young man in Cuba, from the seedlings to make bales of tobacco on our farm. We processed and sold tobacco from all farms from Remedios and Pinar del Río.

Q: Why are Padrón's best cigars square shaped, or box pressed?
A: I smoked a little cigar in Cuba, the H. Upmann No. 4. It was square shaped and did not have a cellophane wrap, and one day I told myself I am going to produce a square cigar, and I did. Nowadays we aren't the only ones producing square cigars. Everybody is making them because they are all copying Padrón.

Jorge Padrón: Tobacco is what makes a cigar good or bad, not its shape. The shape is so it fits nicely in the box without the cellophane wrap. People think that if they make cigars square they will taste like a Padrón. This is totally untrue.

Q: Why don't you make all your cigars square?
A: Because it's really hard work. They are not easy to manufacture. The idea is that we want to make a distinction with that line from the rest.

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