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2013 Big Smoke Saturday Seminars—Top Three (Legal) Cigars of 2012

G. Clay Whittaker
Posted: November 13, 2013

For 9:00 am on a Saturday, the crowd was surprisingly energetic as executive editor Gordon Mott took the stage to begin the seminar festivities at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. But that's always the case with the Big Smoke Las Vegas. Hours before the doors even opened a line had formed outside the large room, which was full of tables and chairs set for the smoker-audience members who were lucky enough to secure tickets for this year's sold-out seminars.

What was different this year was the Boston Red Sox hat proudly adorning Mott's head, as he played to the Red Sox fans in the crowd after the team's recent World Series win. A few audible boos filled the hall, one of the loudest emanating from Yankees fan and senior editor David Savona.

With the kidding aside, the crowd had a big morning in front of them; each attendee had been handed a Humidipak bag upon entrance that contained five cigars, three of which were the top-scoring legal cigars for 2012 (the No. 2 cigar of the year, not in the bag, was a Cuban.) With the crowd pumped up and, in many cases, already lighting the first cigar of the day, it was time for Mott to introduce the first smoke break speaker and maker of the number four cigar of 2012: Jorge Padrón.

Padrón took the stage and began his remarks by thanking the customers seated in front of him for decades of brand loyalty, and followed with a show of thanks to editor and publisher Marvin Shanken and the Cigar Aficionado team for giving cigarmakers a platform to share their products with the world. "If it weren't for what you did for this industry," he began, "we certainly wouldn't be where we are today, so thank you."

 

Click Image to Enlarge

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Tickets for the seminars sold out months in advance. Here's a view from the front of the room, with more than 500 eager cigar aficionados ready to puff away with the panelists.

Photos by David Becker/Getty Images

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Gordon Mott, executive editor of Cigar Aficionado, kicked off the Saturday program and introduced Jorge Padrón and Javier Estades.

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Jorge Padrón spoke about his family's long and storied cigarmaking tradition.

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Javier Estades of Altadis U.S.A. Inc., the company behind the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta.

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Pepin Garcia, the patriarch of the Garcia cigarmaking family.

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Jaime Garcia, the blender of the Flor de las Antillas, Cigar Aficionado's No. 1 Cigar of 2012.

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Jaime, Pepin and Janny Garcia, the family behind the Flor de las Antillas Toro.

"My father started this company 49 years ago in Miami," said Padrón, who shared the story of how José Orlando Padrón built a company from scratch on the promise of quality.

That quality has paid off. As Padrón stated, the company has never been out of the top five since the beginning of the Top 25 ratings, and they've won the Cigar of the Year distinction three times. This year's smoke was the Padrón Family Reserve 85 Years in natural wrapper, a Nicaraguan puro measuring 5 1/4 inches by 50 ring gauge that received 94 points.

"In our first year we were able to sell 40,000 cigars. And we sold them for $5 for a bundle of 25," said Padrón, eliciting laughs from the crowd "My, how times have changed."

Padrón went on humbly, discussing his relationship with his father as a younger man. As a recent graduate, just joining the family business, he suggested that his father change his blend to accommodate demand rather than stick with the current tobacco and accept limits on the supply. The advice went on deaf ears.

"He looked at me and he just said, ‘Listen, in the 20-plus years I've been manufacturing cigars with this blend, I've built a loyal customer base. If I change my blend now I'd lose all that I've built leading up to this point. So I'd rather decrease my production, maintain the quality that I have and maintain the customers I've got.' And of course you know," Padrón joked, "in our situation, the leadership structure was very clear."


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