A milder version of the Padrón brand—a Nicaraguan cigar draped in blonde Connecticut-seed wrapper and shaped in the round, rather than pressed square—is poised to be unveiled next month. The cigar, a first for the Padrón family, is meant to appeal to those who tend to smoke milder cigars.
"This is a totally new blend, completely different than anything we have done before," Jorge Padrón, president of Padrón Cigars Inc., told Cigar Aficionado. "It's Connecticut our way."
Called Padrón Dámaso, the cigars are rolled with Connecticut-seed wrappers and a blend of Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos. Padrón Cigars Inc. will officially unveil the cigars next month at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in New Orleans and expects to ship them to retailers in late August or September.
Jorge Padrón said the cigars were geared "for those who seek the quality and consistency of Padrón in a milder taste profile. ... We've never had a cigar in that segment of the market and it's time we do something about it."
The new brand is named after an influential ancestor of the Padrón family who started the tradition of growing cigar tobacco in Cuba. In the late 1800s, Dámaso Padrón emigrated from the Canary Islands to Cuba and began farming a rental property in Las Obas, part of the Pinar del Río province in Western Cuba. After a time, he saved enough money to buy his own land, and eventually fathered 12 children, one of whom, Francisco Padrón, would father José Orlando Padrón. In 1961, José Orlando Padrón, who had developed a passion for tobacco farming, left Cuba for Spain and later that year he came to the United States. Fifty years ago last September, he formed Padrón Cigars Inc., a Miami company that has grown into one of the world's most acclaimed handmade cigar producers, with three Cigar Aficionado Cigar of the Year awards to its credit, something no other company has matched.
The Padróns have been working on Padrón Dámaso for nearly a year, but the concept of the cigar preceded its title. When it came time to think of a name, Jorge Padrón turned to his three children. "One day I came home and I sat down with my kids, and I said ‘Can any of you come up with a name for a new cigar?'" His son, Jorge Luis, suggested Dámaso after doing some research on the Internet. "My dad," he said, "loved it."
José Orlando Padrón has memories of his grandfather as a family man who was strict, honest and sometimes stern. The box, which will contain 20 cigars wrapped in cellophane, bears his unsmiling image. "Dámaso laid the foundation for what's come for Padrón," said Jorge Padrón. "It's fitting that we honor him by using his name in this cigar."
Padrón Dámaso will come in four sizes to begin with, each of them named for the age of one of José Orlando Padrón's grandchildren. No. 8 measures 5 1/2 inches long by 46 ring gauge; No. 12 is 5 by 50; No. 15 is 6 by 52 and No. 17 is 7 by 54. All of these sizes are parejos, or traditional straight-sided cigars. Prices for the new cigars have yet to be finalized.
Cigar Aficionado smoked a few samples of the new cigars, and found them to be mild to medium in body.
Jorge Padrón said his strategy was to make a milder cigar, but one that still had character. "It has to taste like tobacco, it has to have flavor," he said.
The blend is different, and the tobaccos are treated differently, so the new cigars are not being rolled in the main Padrón Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, but in a separate area in the Padrón compound.
"It's made next to the existing factory, in an area where we used to store [tobacco] bales. We moved the bales and made that into the [Dámaso] factory," said Jorge Padrón. "Everything is still the same—we just didn't want to mix the two. It's important to separate."
Jorge Padrón said the change required hiring some new workers, but the majority of the workers on the new project had worked at Padrón before. "Ninety percent of the people are coming from within," he said.
Jorge Padrón said he had no short-term production targets for Padrón Dámaso. "We're going to go little by little. We're not in a hurry. We want to make sure this product comes out and launches on the right foot. We're focused on producing a quality product," he said. "We want to make sure we have products for every consumer—that's the goal."