An Interview with Ernesto Padilla
A conversation with Ernesto Padilla, owner of Miami's Padilla Cigar Co.
(continued from page 2)
Q: When do you like your first cigar?
A: About 8:30 [a.m.]. I smoke before I even eat anything sometimes. It's been a while since I've felt [dizzy] from a cigar. And I don't like it when people say "that cigar kicked my ass." If you want your ass kicked, go hang out with Mike Tyson. [He laughs] You really want to get into it, really enjoy the flavors. And a lot of people confuse strength with flavor.
Q: For a small company you have cigars made in a variety of places. The Hybrids are made in the Dominican Republic, the Miamis are obviously made in Miami, the Habanos and some of the 1932s are made in Nicaragua. What about the '68?
A: The '68 is made in Honduras, but it uses no Honduran tobacco. The factory is called Tabacalera Aguilar. It's a father-and-son team, very similar to Pepin; they have a small production. I made the Padilla Habano in Nicaragua [at Oliva Cigar Co.] because I wanted something in a more accessible price range. What the Olivas do is they make a very good medium-bodied cigar. Very solid.
Q: Do you ever worry about having the production spread out like that? You have them all—Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and Miami.
A: I think for me it allows me to keep that boutique thing. Yes, they're made in different factories, but they're all within a certain standard. I like to challenge myself and work with different people and see what I learn from these people.
Q: The Padilla brand has only been around since 2004—how do you feel looking back? You've come a long way in a short time.
A: I'm glad that people are accepting the cigars. I'm glad that in such a short time we've shown that these cigars can fit in. Yes, it's a business, but the collective philosophy is: make a living doing something you can enjoy. That's what I set out to do. I don't want to make a cigar I can't live with. Hopefully boutiques keep going. Because I think that's the little engine that keeps things interesting.
Bigger companies have to please the biggest audience. My goal is to look for a certain audience, and I limit myself not only in the sizes that I make but in the profiles that I make. That can be not only a weakness but a strength. I love the fact that my cigars are triple-capped. I love the construction. I love to see other people now starting on that trend. I like to smoke other people's cigars. I enjoy smoking cigars—new Cubans, old Cubans, non-Cubans. There's a lot of good stuff out there. We've gone through the mild thing, I think we hit the peak of the full-bodied thing, now it's more about flavor and consistency.
Photos by Amy Eckert