In June, José Orlando Padrón will turn 90.

This January, South Florida-based Smoke Inn held a party to celebrate this occasion. Or to celebrate last year’s birthday; it’s actually not entirely clear.

When Smoke Inn announced the event, which featured a special cigar, it was marked as a party to celebrate Padrón’s 90th birthday, but the cigar sold that night was actually in honor of his 89th birthday. The cigar is named José O. Padrón 89 Birthday Blend, and it was created in both maduro and natural versions.

The 6 x 46 corona gorda is unique for two notable reasons. First, it’s a round cigar, a departure from the company’s normally box-pressed offerings. Admittedly, five years ago the fact that it was a round Padrón would have been a very unique trait, but given a variety of limited editions and the recently-released Damaso, there’s now quite a few round Padróns. Secondly, the cigar features a black band, something last seen on the Fumas.

Jose O. Padron 89 Birthday Blend Maduro & Natural

A total of 200 boxes were made, split between maduro and natural, and the cigars sold out quite quickly with Smoke Inn assembling a long waitlist immediately following the event.

Jose O. Padron 89 Birthday Blend Natural 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: José O. Padrón 89 Birthday Blend Natural
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A.
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Extra
  • MSRP: $16.50 (Boxes of 10, $165)
  • Release Date: Jan. 29, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

*There were 200 boxes total between the two wrappers, the split hasn’t been disclosed.

While it sometimes can be challenging to tell which limited Padrón is maduro and which is natural, this one isn’t close. The natural version is exactly where I would peg a regular production natural Padrón Anniversary/Aniversario. As for the aroma: it’s bizarre. There’s leather, barnyard, some bread, but the top of the cigar features a weird crusty smell that reminds me of an old couch. Fortunately, the foot has more pleasant smells: chocolate brownie, hay, leather, cedar and some spices. As for the cold draw, there’s less sweet cocoa, citrus and a lot of creaminess.

It starts with citrus, some spiciness, oak, leather and toastiness. The draw is open, even for a Padrón, something that reduces slightly as the cigar begins to burn down. The good news is the flavor: there’s some sour nuttiness up front alongside a toasty core with black cherries, cookie dough and some leather. Through the nose I get a lot of cinnamon and black tea. At times the retrohale is punishing and other times it’s remarkably finessed. The smoke production is great, but I could use a slightly tighter draw and I definitely find myself watching the cigar a lot more than I’d like.

Jose O. Padron 89 Birthday Blend Natural 2

The José O. Padrón 89 Birthday Blend Natural turns earthier in the second third, but that’s probably selling the cigar a bit short. I get some meatiness, hay and wheat pasta. There’s a lot of pepper coating the back of my mouth, but it’s relatively mild. High in quantity, low in intensity. The flavor dries out a lot in the second third and I find myself consistently reaching for water. Strength increases from medium-plus to medium-full. It’s a pretty quick transition, but not one that seems to want to go beyond medium-full. As far as construction, the draw is still quite open.

Jose O. Padron 89 Birthday Blend Natural 3

For the first few puffs of the final third, things are very harsh. But interestingly enough, after a couple more puffs the flavor opens up a lot. There’s quite a bit of hay alongside some creaminess. I get some faint signals of dark chocolate alongside bread and woodsiness. It’s still quite earthy, but it also has lemon cream sweetness buried under some hazelnuts. The draw finally closes a bit, maybe not as much as I’d like, but it’s progress.

Jose O. Padron 89 Birthday Blend Natural 4

Final Notes

  • I have not smoked the maduro version, so I do not know how it tastes compared to this.
  • This isn’t earthy in the sense of the generic flavor that I oftentimes find in cigars; rather, the mixture of woods, hay and wheat create a very earthy profile.
  • Padróns oftentimes have loose draws, as it’s part of how they produce cigar, namely, they don’t really age rolled cigars. That being said, I found the draw to be too open for the first half of the cigar. It’s a minor issue, but it’s really the only complaint I have about the cigar.
  • While it’s not the Jerry Cruz rule—cigars generally don’t get any better once the band is removed—I generally won’t smoke a cigar well into the final third if there’s harshness in the last inch or so for five or so minutes. This was an odd case, as the cigar got harsh right before the final third, but a few puffs later the harshness had receded to the back and much better flavors emerged.
  • It seems quite likely that we will see a Padrón 90th of some sort. For those confused by the numbering system Padrón uses, here’s a primer:
    • 1926 — José O. Padrón’s birth year.
    • 1964 — Company founded.
    • 40 — Anniversary of the company (2004)
    • 80 — José O. Padrón Birthday (2006)
    • 44 — Anniversary of the company (2008)
    • 45 — Anniversary of the company (2009)
    • 46 — Anniversary of the company (2010)
    • 85 — José O. Padrón Birthday (2011)
    • 50 — Anniversary of the company (2014)
    • 47 — Anniversary of the TAA (2015)
    • 89 — José O. Padrón Birthday (2016)
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
90 Overall Score

If you’re read any of my Padrón single store releases, you’ll find a common theme: I oftentimes don’t think they hold a candle to the company’s normal releases. I’ve always found this to be both a negative and a positive. While it’s oftentimes disappointing when I’m smoking the cigar, it also speaks volumes to the fact that the company’s best cigars are the regular production vitolas they’ve made for years and are on shelves around the world. Much like the last time Smoke Inn got an exclusive Padrón, this one is different. It’s a fantastic tribute to the living legend, the only shame is not many people will get to smoke it.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.