Piloto Cigars Inc.

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Piloto Cigars Inc.
Industry Cigar industry
Founded Miami, United States (September 8, 1964 (1964-09-08))
Founder José Orlando Padrón
Headquarters Miami, Florida, United States
Area served
Key people
José Orlando Padrón, Founder and Executive Chairman
Jorge Padrón, President
Orlando Padrón, Vice President
Products Padrón Serie 1926, Padrón Serie 1964
Subsidiaries cigar factory in Estelí, Nicaragua
Website www.padron.com

Piloto Cigars Inc. is a privately held company that produces the Padrón cigar brand from Nicaragua. Commonly known as Padrón Cigars, the company was founded September 8, 1964[1] in Miami, Florida by Cuba-native José Orlando Padrón. In 1970, Padrón moved the company to Estelí, Nicaragua.[2]

Padrón Cigars is managed and curated by three generations of the Padrόn family, under the leadership of José O. Padrón and Jorge Padrón. The company controls all aspects of cigar production, including tobacco growing, sorting, processing, cigar manufacturing, and distribution.[2]

Company history[edit]


Demaso Padrón, Jose Orlando Padrón's grandfather, immigrated to Cuba from the Canary Islands (Spain) in the middle 1800s when he was a young boy. As was designated in those days, the "isleños" (English: islanders) were made to work in the tobacco fields. With what little money they had, the Padrón family bought a small farm in the Pinar del Río region of Cuba, Las Obas. At that time they made $7 every 100 pounds (45 kg) of tobacco they cultivated in Cuba. From there, the Padrón family continued to buy farms around the Pinar del Río region including a factory in Piloto, where the name of Jose's company, Piloto Cigars, is derived.

Jose Orlando Padrón was born in 1926 in Cuba and grew up near the Pinar del Río region, famed for its tobacco. His family has been working in the tobacco industry since the 1850s, and, when Jose moved from Cuba in 1961 after his tobacco farm was nationalized by Fidel Castro, went to Spain, then New York, and then he brought over a century's worth of tobacco knowledge to Miami. In Miami, Jose earned $60 every month from government aid to Cuban refugees. After a friend gave him a small hammer, Jose obtained a carpentry job. It was this job that enabled him to raise the $600 to start his own cigar brand and business. To this day, the little hammer has been a symbol of Jose's start as a cigar blender and manufacturer.

Padrón produced 200 cigars a day, made in typical Cuban rolling style, with one torcedor. Padrón then came to the idea of making a new cigar, the "Fuma". Made completely from Connecticut broadleaf tobacco, many bought this cigar for its curly head cap, which resembled the traditional cigars from Cuba.

It soon became very limiting to deal only with Connecticut broadleaf tobacco because of its long curing process. Padrón was approached by a man from a tobacco company in Nicaragua touring around for potential buyers, who asked him to inspect his tobacco for its quality. Padrón thought very well of his tobacco and told him to come back after his trip to Europe so he may travel to Nicaragua and inspect the tobacco and the fields. There, in the Jalapa valley of Nicaragua, Padrón found the tobacco he would use for his cigars.

Move to Nicaragua[edit]

Jose Padrón began using the Nicaraguan tobacco in 1967, but due to inability to meet the demands of his consumers, he moved his company to Estelí, Nicaragua in 1970 — a country with numerous political troubles at the time.[3] Padrón tried to remain apolitical during his stay in Nicaragua however, after riots broke out and Padrón's factory was burnt down, Jose began to search for another location for his business.

While the factory in Nicaragua was rebuilt soon after the disaster, another factory was established across the border in Honduras.[3] After the Sandinista rebellion and take over, there was much uncertainty at the Padrón factory as to what the workers were to do. Padrón asked them to continue working, and eventually Padrón returned to Nicaragua where he spoke to a Sandinista official, who promised him there would be no more problems with his factory.

Nicaraguan blockade[edit]

A new problem arose for Padrón after making peace with the Sandinistas: the United States embargo against Nicaragua enacted by President Reagan on Nicaraguan products. Padrón scrambled to move as much tobacco and cigars from Nicaragua to Tampa, Florida during the 5 days allotted before the blockade took effect. He was later granted an extension by the U.S. government to continue to move his product for another 6 months, then, whatever stock he had left in Nicaragua, remained there. After the blockade lifted, Padrón shifted his main operation back to Nicaragua, where it still remains today.

Current history[edit]

Now, both Jose Orlando Padrón and his son, Jorge "George" Padrón, run the family business. As President, Jorge is moving into the director's position for the company; making more trips to visit the factories in Estelí and working on the business end of the company. It is the intent of the Padrón family that Jorge will eventually take the main leadership role in the company one day.[4]

In 2003, the company opened a new 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) rolling facility in Estelí, Nicaragua, a building twice the size of the company's previous Estelí facility.[5] The new rolling center was the 17th building owned by Padrón in Estelí and brought the company's usable space in the city up to a total of 75,000 square feet (7,000 m2), mostly dedicated to the storage of tobacco.[5] At that time the company maintained an inventory sufficient for more than 25 million cigars — six years' worth of production.

Product line[edit]

Examples of Padrón's three most common production series: a standard Padrón cigar (top); an Anniversary series (middle); and a Serie 1926 (bottom).

The Padrón cigar company makes three different blends of cigar, all with their own unique flavor points and sizes. As a business, Padrón Cigars tries to cater to all their customers, and that means catering to all price points as well.

Padrón Series[edit]

There are fifteen vitolas in the Padrón series. Each is available in a natural and a maduro wrapper. With the exception of the Corticos, the band for all of the vitolas is brown with "Padrón" and "Handmade" in white lettering. The wrapper, filler, and binder leaves are all sun-grown habano from Nicaragua, aged two-and-one-half years.[6]

Name Vitola Length (in.) Ring Gauge
Delicias Corona Extra 4 7/8 46
2000 Robusto 5 50
Londres Corona 5 ½ 42
3000 Robusto 5 ½ 52
5000 Robusto 5 ½ 56
Palmas Corona 6 ½ 42
4000 Double Corona 6 ½ 54
Panatela Panatela 6 7/8 36
6000 Torpedo 5 ½ 52
Ambassador Lonsdale 6 7/8 42
Churchill Churchill 6 7/8 46
Executive Churchill 7 ½ 50
Magnum Giant 9 50
7000 Toro 6 ¼ 60
Corticos 4 ¼ 35

Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series[edit]

In 1994, Padrón introduced the 1964 Anniversary Series, in celebration of the company's 30-year anniversary.[7] Like the regular Padrón series, these cigars are made entirely from Nigaraguan-grown tobacco, and are available in both natural and maduro wrappers[7] The series is limited in its production and to assure authenticity, the company labels each individual cigar with its own 6-digit serial number.[7]

Name Vitola Length (in.) Ring Gauge
Diplomatico Double Corona 7 50
Piramide Pyramid 6 7/8 52
Exclusivo Robusto 5 ½ 50
Monarca Grand Corona 6 ½ 46
Superior Lonsdale 6 ½ 42
Corona Long corona 6 42
Principe Corona extra 4 ½ 46
Imperial Toro 6 54
Torpedo Torpedo 6 52

Padron Serie 1926[edit]

The third and final cigar blend that Padrón offers is the Padrón Serie 1926, created in 2002 in honor of Jose Padrón's 75th birthday, with the "1926" a reference to the family patriarch's year of birth.[3] Consisting of 7 vitolas, each cigar features either a sun-grown habano natural or Maduro wrapper, and contains Nicaraguan tobacco aged for no less than five years. Just like the Padrón 1964 Anniversary blend, the Padrón Serie 1926 is box pressed and has 6 digit security codes on their bands to ensure against counterfeiting.

Padrón 1926 Serie Famous 75th, which comes in a 5 x 54 box pressed robusto vitola and is available in either a Nicaraguan habano or Nicaraguan habano maduro wrapper. Release date Nov 2015.

Only 1500 boxes of each version are being produced, with box prices set at $210 and single stick prices at $21.

Name Vitola Length (in.) Ring Gauge
No. 35 Rothschild (short Robusto) 4 48
No. 6 Robusto 4 and ¾ 50
No. 2 Belicoso 5 ½ 52
No. 9 Robusto 5 and ¼ 56
No. 1 Toro 6 and ¾ 54
40th Anniversary Torpedo 6 and ½ 54
75th Anniversary Robusto 5 54
80th Anniversary Figurado 6 and ¾ 54


Padrón has received numerous awards and high ratings from many respected cigar critics, connoisseurs and aficionados. The Thousand series has received over sixty one ratings, the lowest being an 88 and the highest being a 94 on a one hundred point scale. The Padrón 1964 Anniversary blend has received sixty two ratings, the lowest being a 90 and the highest being a 95 on a one hundred point scale. The Padrón Serie 1926 blend has received twenty seven ratings, the lowest being a 90 and the highest being a 97 on a 100-point scale. The special release Padrón 1964 Anniversary "A" received a rating of 91 twice, while the newest Padrón 1964 Anniversary "Millennium" has received no ratings.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ , Padrón Cigars | Cigar Selection | Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series
  2. ^ a b Cigar Aficionado | Cigar Stars | Jorge Padrón
  3. ^ a b c Marvin R. Shanken, Cigar Aficionado's Cigar Companion. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 2005; pg. 58.
  4. ^ http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Archives/CA_Show_Article/0,2322,410,00.html "An Interview with Jose Padron: Chairman, Piloto Cigars Inc." Cigar Aficionado. Published: September/October 1998.
  5. ^ a b David Savona, "Nicaragua: The New Start for Nicaragua." Cigar Aficionado, November/December 2003.
  6. ^ http://www.padron.com/cigars/cigars-padron.php
  7. ^ a b c Perelman's Pocket Cyclopedia of Cigars. Los Angeles: Perelman, Pioneer, and Company, 2004; pg. 402.
  8. ^ http://www.padron.com/ratings/ratings.php "Ratings". Padron Cigars. 2008.

External links[edit]