Padrón Cigars (a.k.a. Piloto Cigars) was founded in 1968 by Cuban born refugee José Orlando Padrón. Although the Padrón cigar brand itself started in the 60’s, the Padrón family has been working in the tobacco industry since the 1850’s. José Padrón’s grandfather, Demas Padrón, immigrated to Cuba in the mid 1800’s from the Canary Islands. Back then, it was standard that all Islanders were required to work in the tobacco fields for very little money per day. The Padrón’s stashed away their earnings and after many years of saving, they purchased their first tobacco farm in Los Obos, Cuba. They continued to buy farms, including a factory in Piloto, hence the name of the Padrón alias, Piloto Cigars.
José was born and raised on a tobacco farm. One could just picture him swaddled in fresh Cuban seed tobacco leaves! In 1961, at age 35, he moved from Cuba shortly after the Revolution when Fidel Castro nationalized his tobacco farm. When he finally settled in Miami, he was making a mere $60 a month that he received from the Cuban government to aid refugees. At a time when José was starving and virtually penniless, his fate changed with one present from a friend, a hammer. This gift allowed José to become a carpenter and build up a savings of $600 to start the Padrón cigar brand that we all know and love today. The small hammer on the Padrón label is symbolic of this event that changed the life of José, from immigrant, to carpenter, to the most well known Nicaraguan cigar blender and manufacturer in the United States.
But José’s struggles do not stop there. Padrón cigars have persevered through many ups and downs in the cigar industry, as well as, hurricanes and fires destroying his crops in Nicaragua and four bombings to his shop in Little Havana. The bombings occurred after anti-Castro extremists saw a publication of a photo revealing José handing Castro one of his cigars. José was actually there to negotiate the release of hundreds of Cuban prisoners, however the photo never allowed for the real facts of the meeting, so it made the two look like old pals. Boycots broke out in Miami, and fires were lit on his crops, but all this turmoil could not stop José’s dedication.
Today Padrón cigars have exceeded sales of over 150 million. However their focus is on quality and not quantity and the Padrón family, including grandchildren are now working together to keep this great tradition in cigar smoking alive.
• 1926 Series: No.9 in “25 Best Cigars of 2007” by Cigar Aficionado
• 1926 40th Anniversary Series: “25 Best Cigars of 2004” by Cigar Aficionado
• Padrón Thousand Series received sixty one ratings, none being under 88 with the highest at 94
• Padrón 1964 Anniversary blend has received sixty two ratings from 20 to 97 on a 100 point scale
• Padrón 1926 Series has received twenty seven ratings from 90 to 97
• Padrón 1964 Anniversary “A”: rated 91 twice