Forty-six years after forming his cigar company in Miami, José Orlando Padrón came to New York City for the formal release of his family’s latest cigar. The Padrón Family Reserve No. 46 was unveiled last night at a sold-out smoker held at New York City’s Grand Havana Room, high atop Fifth Avenue. The nearly 200 guests were a mix of Grand Havana Room members and cigar smokers who came from as far away as Cleveland, Arizona and Florida to be at the event.
The 84-year-old Padrón, accompanied by his son Jorge, was the guest of honor at the event, which was organized by Jorge Armenteros, creator of Tobacconist University. “We’re all celebrating a special anniversary,” said Armenteros, who called José Orlando Padrón “more than the embodiment of the American dream—he’s the kind of man you only get to meet once in a lifetime.”
José Orlando Padrón spoke as his son Jorge translated. The elder Padrón described his early days as a Cuban émigré in the United States, where he took various jobs to make ends meet, including bringing trays of food to airlines, even ironing, before he was able to save $600 to start his cigar company. He spoke of his dedication to the craft of making cigars, how times were tough in the beginning, how he ignored those who wished he would make candela, or green cigars, which were popular at the time, and how changing the look of his early cigars from a rounded head to one with a twisted tail—making a fuma—helped spur sales in the Miami market, where all Padróns were originally sold. He managed to sell 20,550 cigars his first year—and said he never imagined that 46 years later he would be standing in front of a crowd having sold more than 100 million cigars in his lifetime.
The Padróns have been named Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado magazine three times out of six contests. Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado, came to the podium and spoke briefly, and said the cigar world was a better place because of the hard work of the father-son Padrón team.
The Padrón Family Reserve No. 46 Maduro is a dark corona gorda measuring 5 1/2 inches long by 56 ring gauge. The squared off, trunk-pressed smoke is being made with some of the Padrón’s oldest tobaccos. A taste of a sample handed out at the event was full flavored, not as strong as the Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro but stronger than the 44. It had very rich, balanced flavors, with notes of nuts and cocoa. The cigar has a suggested retail price of $25, and is made in Estelí, Nicaragua, at Padrón’s Tabacos Cubanica factory.
For an extensive Q&A done with José Orlando and Jorge Padrón, read the October issue of Cigar Aficionado, on newsstands now.