I got distracted and forgot it was Wednesday, so I’m reproducing the first article I had published in Prime Living Magazine three years ago. I featured the Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo Maduro, and, considering the recent passing of Jose O. Padron yesterday, I thought this would be appropriate. My sincere condolences to the Padron family on the passing of their patriarch, an impressive man by any standard.
Premium cigars are something I’ve grown to love over the last eighteen years. I see hand rolled cigars as an affordable luxury, a daily vacation, if you will, not something I need to have every day. Of course, these are more than just a bunch of leaves rolled up, and when you understand the time and artistry that goes into the cigar, it magnifies the appreciation. As I hold a favorite cigar in my hand, for instance, a Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo from Nicaragua, I realize that the seeds for the leaves in this cigar were planted a minimum of three years ago!
In the short two or three months the plant takes to mature, it’s tended to by people in the fields. Over the course of about a month, the leaves are harvested by hand, carefully and meticulously from the bottom of the plant to the top. After the leaves are picked, they are hung in barns to cure, again, by hand. Once the leaves have turned brown in the barn, another one or two months, they are sorted and placed in piles, called pilons, where they ferment. The temperature in the middle of the pilon is monitored, and it’s rotated, by hand, perhaps several times over several months until the temperature stabilizes and the leaf has the desired color and texture. The leaves are re-sorted, always by size and color and baled up to be stored in a climate controlled warehouse for a year or more. It’s important to realize that, by this point, perhaps one hundred or more people have been involved in the process.
At some point in this whole process, some tobacco genius has figured out that somewhere between three and up to ten different tobaccos from all over the world, different places on the plants, and different levels of fermentation will taste good together. These tobaccos need to be rolled into cigars by skilled artisans, and it’s not as easy as you’d think. In the simplest terms, the roller has to take all the leaves in the cigar’s “recipe” and fold them in such a way that air may be drawn through the cigar, and the leaves are distributed evenly so every cigar tastes the same. Then he has to do this 150 to 300 times a day! AND, other rollers have to do it to! Box after box, year after year. When you think about it, it’s a miracle that cigars can be as affordable a luxury as they are.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo, a 51⁄2” x 50 ring gauge cigar from Nicaragua. This is a cigar that can be counted on to always have bold flavors of coffee and cocoa, cigar after cigar, year after year. The company that makes these has been around for 50 years, and continues to produce exceptional cigars.They have a bunch of special editions besides this one (look for a 50th anniversary edition this year), and they continue to produce consistently great cigars which are a widely available and a good example of what a Nicaraguan cigar should be. Understanding the myriad steps involved in the manufacture of a hand rolled, premium cigar really enhances the pleasure and appreciation for me.
It’s important to understand that this article was written for a mainstream publication, it was meant as an introduction for those who may not be familiar with the art of the cigar. Until the next time,