Padrón Cigars is a privately held company that produces Nicaraguan cigars. Founded in 1964 in Miami, Florida, by Cuba native Jose Orlando Padrón, the company relocated to Esteli, Nicaragua in 1970. Members of the Padrón family exclusively manage the company and control all phases of cigar production.
Born in 1926 in Cuba, Jose Orlando Padrón grew up near the famed tobacco-growing region of Pinar del Rio. After Fidel Castro nationalized the family tobacco farm in 1961, Jose moved first to Spain, then to New York, and then finally to Miami. Once in Florida, he earned $60 US Dollars (USD) per month of United States government aid money given to refugees from Cuba. One day a friend who worked at the refugee aid office, Raul Fernandez, asked if Jose possessed any carpentry skills. When Jose replied in the affirmative, Raul gave him a small hammer as a gift and urged him to use it well.
Jose secured a job as a carpenter. This allowed him to earn enough money to launch his own cigar business. With $600 USD that he saved from his carpentry job, Jose Orlando Padrón opened Padrón Cigars in Miami in 1964. He claims he still owns that hammer.
In 1967, Jose Padrón began using Nicaraguan tobacco after becoming frustrated with Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco, the closest he could find to Cuban-style tobacco in the States. He moved the company to Esteli, Nicaragua in 1970 despite the political unrest in the country at the time. After his factory was burned down during riots, he rebuilt it and also built another factory in Honduras.
Following the takeover by the Sandinistas, Jose returned to Nicaragua where officials assured him there would be no problems at the Padrón Cigars factory. However, the blockade established by President Ronald Reagan posed a new problem. Jose was granted an extension of six months beyond the original five days given to move tobacco and cigars from Nicaragua to Tampa, Florida. Once the blockade was lifted, Jose moved his central operation back to Nicaragua.
Jose and his son, Jorge "George" Padrón, run Padrón Cigars jointly with George as its President. They make three different blends of handmade cigars—the Padrón Series, Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series, and the Padrón 1926 Series—each blend with their own varieties of unique lengths, ring gauge sizes, and flavor points. There is also a wide price range within each blend to cater to a broad audience. Padrón cigars have received many awards and ratings, and rank highly with numerous respected cigar critics and connoisseurs. The famous Padrón 1964 Anniversary blend has garnered more than sixty ratings, from 90 to 95 on a 100-point scale.