Ernesto Padilla's latest project is impossible to ignore, a massive crate of 100 cigars branded with the phrase "those who dare, win" in English and Latin. Inside are 100 smokes made from tobacco the factory didn't want to give him.
The project, which sells for an eye popping $4,750 per crate (or $47.50 a cigar) is called Padilla 1932 Millisime. Translated from the French, Millisime means vintage, for the tobaccos inside are old.
How old? Padilla doesn't want to say. He feels vintage years have been overused and abused in the cigar industry and putting a year on it would have minimal impact. He will say that the tobaccos inside the cigars, which are all Nicaraguan and all grown by the company Aganorsa, are special leaves that the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras didn't want to use.
"Every factory I've worked with always has bales they don't want to use in blends," says Padilla as he fires up one of the Millisimes. It's opening day of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in Las Vegas, and the crate of Padilla 1932 Millisime cigars is behind glass. "Tobacco they call their queen bales."
The tobacco is not only old, it's been aged in tercios, which are large, palm bark-wrapped bales used for aging fermented tobacco in some factories. (The method dates back to Cuba.) You see it today with some cigars, but it's quite rare to have the wrapper aged this way, which Padilla did on this project. The tobacco, says Padilla, "Is not only the oldest, but the most select" from the Aganorsa farms.
The project certainly is up to the saying, for releasing such an expensive smoke is a dare in a market challenged by FDA regulations.
The packaging is a take on what you would find in a crate of fine wines, the name Padilla branded into the light colored wood, along with that saying and the Padilla lion logo. But as good as the packaging is, Padilla is hoping what will most attract consumers is the cigars packed within.
Each crate has 100 cigars, 20 of each in five sizes: Toro, measuring 6 inches by 52 ring gauge; Double Toro, 6 by 60; Robusto, 5 by 50; Figurado, 7 1/4 by 54; and Churchill, 7 by 48. The cigars are expected to be on the market in September.