The History of Padron

Dan Lisberger

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Sometimes, events in history open opportunities for people to build empires. This was the case with Padron Cigars. While the history of many well-known cigar brands dates back to the 1800s, Padron’s story starts in 1964—right after the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Living in Miami at the time, Cuban native Jose Orlando Padron started selling his cigars by night after working carpentry jobs all day. With the help of just one roller, Padron put out his first product, the now famous hammer El Martillito.

Still known today for the quality of the tobaccos used in the blending process, Jose Orlando Padron built his company’s reputation on the quality of his Nicaraguan tobacco. Armed with the knowledge that a certain valley in the Esteli region of Nicaragua had an almost identical microclimate and soil to that in Pinar del Rio in Cuba—a region that produced cigars favored by the likes of Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy—Padron used this to great advantage.

Aside from two brief stints where his cigars were produced in Honduras and Tampa, Padron has been manufacturing cigars almost exclusively in Nicaragua since 1970. All of this despite the breakout of a civil war in Nicaragua, a massive fire, and a short-term U.S. embargo.

Padron has never had a broad array of cigar blends but instead produces many different vitolas in both Natural and Maduro wrappers. Their main line, the Padron Series, consists of fifteen sizes in both Natural and Maduro wrappers where the tobacco is aged for two-and-a-half years.

In 1994, in celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary, Padron released its second cigar line, the Padron 1964 Anniversary Series. Heralding back to the age-old Cuban tradition, every cigar in the 1964 line is beautifully box-pressed and features tobacco aged for four years.

The third line is the Padron Serie 1926, which was launched in honor of Jose Padron’s seventy-fifth birthday in 2002. The 1926 also comes in the box-pressed format, but this time the tobaccos are aged for five years.

The fourth and final line is the Family Reserve, featuring the iconic El Martillito, or “the little hammer,” which Jose Orlando Padron used to earn the original $600 he used to start Padron Cigars. Aged for ten years, every numbered size selection corresponds to an important Padron family anniversary. The latest, No. 96, was released at this year’s PCA Show and celebrates what would have been Jose Padron’s ninety-sixth birthday. The aging of the tobaccos is a major factor throughout the different lines and is a testament to Padron’s dedication to producing quality tobaccos.

Jose Orlando Padron passed away in 2017 at ninety-one, but his legacy and tradition are still very much apparent in every Padron cigar to this day. Padron is still very much a family operation and is currently operated by his sons Jorge and Orlando. The company is headquartered in Miami and produces its cigars at a state-of-the-art facility in Esteli, Nicaragua. One of the most celebrated cigar brands in history, Padron receives more 90+ ratings from Cigar Aficionado than any other brand and has been named Cigar of the Year a record three times.

In addition to his contribution to the cigar world, Jose Orlando Padron is also remembered for his humanitarian efforts and his devotion to helping others. Throughout his lifetime, he made several humanitarian trips to Cuba, meeting face-to-face with Fidel Castro and even negotiating the release of political prisoners there. His business practices have also paved the way in the cigar industry through the payment of high wages to employees in South America, schooling for the employees’ children, and even offering on-site healthcare clinics.

All of these things are what make Padron Cigars so special. The quality, the tradition, and the love that goes into every handcrafted cigar have made Padron one of the most sought-after brands in the world…ad well as in our humidor!

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