Review: Padrón 4000 Maduro
With the explosion of cigar options today – new brands, blends, manufacturers – its easy to forget and overlook the sticks on which some of us cut our teeth. Pun intended. Somehow, among the sea of choices, some boutique brands that found their niche long ago stuck to their guns and remained true to their métier. The king of these is, of course, Padrón. The iconic name evokes so many fond memories for me. In July 2004, my wife and I celebrated our first anniversary in Austin, TX. We stayed at a rejuvenated historic hotel that featured a wonderful club room that looked like it had been decorated by Ernest Hemingway and Allan Quatermain. We had drinks in the club room and as we snacked on wild boar pot stickers, my wife presented me with my first Padrón 1964 Anniversary series. A lot of wonderful “firsts” that day.
As I write this, it occurs to me that a lot of “firsts” and other great moments were accompanied by a Padrón. Vacations. Events. Milestones. Successes. And of course, anniversaries. All good times in my life. It seems for the past 20 years or so, I’ve always kept a few Padróns in the humi. Like getting through puberty thanks to Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett, Dawn Wells and [insert any Playboy bunny here], my first “real” cigars were Montecristos, Romeo y Julietas, Punchs and Padróns. Padróns were my first boutique smoke, but more importantly and in retrospect, the first stick whose flavor I liked. In my early days, I only smoked for special occasions, because it was cool or because I was, I thought, a maverick. Padróns were key to my passion for cigars because it continued to bridge the gap between my utter cigar ignorance and well, where I am today. Thus, without the Padrón influence its possible 99 Cigars wouldn’t exist and more significantly I would have missed out on a lifestyle I love dearly.
The Padrón dynasty is best symbolized by the family story of “The Little Hammer.” Ever wondered why there is a hammer on the 1964 Anniversary Series cigar label? After his father’s plantation was confiscated in 1961, Jose Padrón and his family left Cuba and landed in Miami, FL. With nothing. A proud man, Jose regretfully lived off Cuban immigrant government subsidies while desperately looking for work. Jose dreamed of owning his own cigar factory and fate lent a hand with a job opportunity as a carpenter. His friend at the Cuban refugee office gifted Padrón with a little hammer for his carpentry work. Through this hard work and sacrifice, he was able to save enough money and in September 1964, Padrón launched Padrón Cigars in Little Havana. The next two decades would see Padrón expand his operation into Honduras and Nicaragua but also experience blows to his business due to civil strife, economic embargos and fires. Padrón also suffered for his efforts to arrange the release of a handful of political prisoners in Cuba resulting in a series of retaliatory bombings to his headquarters over several years.
These trials could not stop the Padrón juggernaut which really ignited in 1994, with the release of the 1964 Anniversary series cigar. The continued success of the company’s Padrón Series along with the 1964 Series catapulted Padron amongst the elite of boutique makers. How did he follow-up on all this success? By creating the 1926 Series (40 year and 80 year), the Family Reserve and the Damaso. That’s all. Three Cigar of the Year honors in 2004, 2007 and 2009. Numerous Top 10 honors. Among the highest ratings ever given. A Hall of Fame induction. Millions of BOTL and SOTL fans. Jose Padrón has built a wonderful legacy and continues to make some of the best cigars on the planet. Period. The Little Hammer that could.
Here are the stats:
- Profile: Medium-Full
- Vitola: 4000 [Toro]
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.5″/ 54
- Purchased: Local Humidor
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Nicaragua Sun Grown Maduro
- Binder: Nicaragua Sun Grown
- Filler: Nicaragua Sun Grown
- Cutter: Xikar Xi1
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird 3-jet
- Price Range: $7- $8
A lot of folks make the mistake assuming that the Padrón series is an expensive cigar. It’s a common mistake based largely on the popularity of the Anniversary series cigars and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, some of the Anniversary series cigars can top $30 but that’s mostly due to some of Padrón’s specially aged tobaccos. It’s important to note that ALL Padrón cigars are puros, natural or maduro. In addition, all tobacco used in the Padrón Series are sun grown and aged for a minimum of two and half years. This series comes in 15 different vitolas in both maduro and natural wrappers. I can spot the simple but iconic Padrón Series band a mile away. A reflection of his humble beginnings. The Maduro wrapper is a mouth-watering espresso color, slightly veiny and toothy with almost invisible seams, including the cap. The quality of the construction is evident with uniform firmness from head to foot and not a leaf put wrong in sight. The sweet aroma from the wrapper scream raisins or dark fruit. The foot aromas are a hearty hay and herbal tea profile. The cold draw is awesome with my cutter and offered a chewy mix of hay and molasses.
The initial draws are a rich, smooth, spicy complexity bursting with raisins, espresso and toasted nuts. All this melding nicely within a wonderful malty background. Truthfully, it had been a while since I last smoked something from the Padrón Series, so this is a welcome re-introduction!. The finish is toasty. The combustion is even but the char line does get a bit jagged at times.
The middle third offered a bit more strength and body as some earthiness begins to kick in. She’s getting a bit spicier now but the coffee notes and nuttiness swirls nicely around notes of oak. All of this is wonderfully balanced. The toasty finish continues into the final third, but becomes a little more coffee bean in flavor. Burn is still great and char line is more consistently even.
The final third features a stronger, full-bodied earthy profile with lots of oak. The spice is excellent but a little subdued and the burn is now perfect. Some nice notes of espresso and hay are swirling in the background making the final third more zesty as well as hearty. The coffee finish is awesome. Toward the nub, it does get a bit hot, but few don’t. Don’t let the full body scare or intimidate you as it is very well-balanced and smooth. The flavors never get lost and it doesn’t become metallic or harsh. The burn and combustion are superb overall.
This is a special cigar and should be tried by anyone looking to jump into the cigar pond. The quality, the aged tobaccos, pedigree and the flavors are hard to beat for yet another sub-eight dollar gem like this. The cigar aesthetics are really not anything special to look at. Even the band is simple and is everything but ostentatious. And I think that’s exactly Padrón’s intent. A cigar for every man. It also reflects his humility and a time when he himself could not afford a “good” cigar. Finally, I think the Padrón Series cigars are a wonderful representation and manifestation of the Little Hammer: A symbol of sacrifice, hard work, dedication and a simple belief to do what is right. How has this series fared in the ratings world? Well, since 1999, both the maduro- and natural-skinned cigars in this series (in various vitolas) have taken home ratings of 90+ almost every year. There’s a boom in the boutique cigar business right now and even some of the genuine Cubans are polishing their belt buckles, but nothing has nor ever will eclipse what the Padrón family have accomplished. Smile, think “Little Hammer” and enjoy a Padrón – In Fumo Pax!
In memoriam: Jose Orlando Padrón 1926 – 2017