Ernesto Padilla has just released his Padilla 88 Aniversario, a new, three-size-line made in Nicaragua by A.J. Fernandez. “We wanted to release it last year, but things got crazy,” Padilla told Cigar Aficionado.
The cigars are dark and lightly pressed, made with a core of Nicaraguan tobaccos and cloaked in Ecuador Havana wrapper. Among the leaves inside is some Pelo d’Oro, a flavorful but fickle tobacco that’s hard to grow, given its susceptibility to disease.
The 88 in the name refers to the 88th birthday of Heberto Padilla, Ernesto’s father and a famed Cuban poet who died in September, 2000. Padilla, who would have turned 88 last year, was imprisoned in 1971 for criticizing the Cuban government, sparking what became known as “The Padilla Affair.” He was incarcerated for more than a month, and after his release he was forbidden from leaving the island until 1980. Ernesto Padilla has made several cigars in homage to his father.
The cigar box is simple and elegant, decorated with a sepia-toned photograph of Heberto with Ernest Hemingway in Cuba in 1959. “I told A.J. I want an iconic Cuban profile to go with this image. He said ‘Pelo de Oro’….I said that would be great if we can pull it off,” said Padilla. “This is not designed to be a Nicaraguan cigar. This is, to me, designed to evoke Cuba. It’s a cigar designed to evoke an era of maybe a Hemingway in his prime fishing off the coast of Havana.”
The cigars come in three sizes, a Toro (6 inches by 52 ring gauge), Robusto (5 by 50) and Figurado (6 by 60). They have suggested retail prices of $13 to $15 per cigar.
Padilla said he hopes to expand the brand in the future, adding sizes that are less popular commercially, such as coronas and perlas.