In April, Ernesto Padilla announced plans to release a new blend at the IPCPR convention and trade show in July. The Padilla Cava will debut in four vitolas: 5 x 50, 6 x 60, 8 x 60 and 7 x 70. All will come in boxes of 16 with pricing set between $6.75 and $8.75.

The Padilla Cava, which translates to cave in Spanish, will feature a poem by Heberto Padilla, Ernesto’s father and famed Cuban poet who was imprisoned by Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba from 1971-1980. The poem will be written on the foot band next to the image of a lion. 

Padilla Cava 550 1


  • Cigar Reviewed: Padilla Cava 550
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6.75 (Boxes of 16, $108.00)
  • Release Date: July 2014
  • Number of Cigars to be Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2*
*I smoked one 550 and one 660 for this review.

The Padilla Cava 550 is covered in a milk chocolate brown wrapper that is quite smooth to the touch, but also features quite a few obvious veins running up and down its length. There is an appropriate amount of give when it is squeezed and aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong barnyard, grass, wood and leather.

The first third of the Padilla Cava 550 includes very distinct flavors of leather, earth, baker’s spices, barnyard and hay, along with some minor pepper on the retrohale that seems to be getting stronger as the first third continues. There is a fairly strong spice on my tongue throughout the first third, although it seems to die down about 15 puffs into it. I am tasting a fleeting sweetness every now and then, but it is just not very strong at this point in the cigar. Construction-wise, the draw is effortless, while the burn is razor sharp and there is a substantial amount of smoke coming from the foot, although it is not all that dense. The strength is fairly mild so far, although it does seem to be getting slowly stronger.

Padilla Cava 550 2

The overall profile of the Padilla Cava 550 turns much creamier and slightly sweeter in the second third, with the sweetness reminding me strongly of vanilla bean at certain points. Other flavors of peanuts, leather, hay, earth and dark cocoa and even a new popcorn flavor are also present, but none of them are overtly dominant over the others. The spice from the first third has disappeared, but there is actually more black pepper on the retrohale as well.  Strength-wise, the Cava barely hits the medium mark by the end of the second third, and I don’t see it getting much stronger. Both the burn and draw are excellent, and while the amount of smoke has not increased much, it does seem to get a bit more dense.

Padilla Cava 550 3

The final third of the Padilla Cava 550 stays the course profile-wise with the same creaminess and vanilla bean sweetness dominating. However, the peanut and hay notes fight for attention, while the earth, leather and dark cocoa flavors continue to play supporting roles. The black pepper on the retrohale has finally died down a bit and the spice from the first third has still not returned. The construction remains excellent until the end, and as expected, the strength stalls out firmly in the medium range.

Padilla Cava 550 4

Final Notes

  • Ernesto’s father Heberto Padilla had a fascinating history, which you can read about here.
  • The Padilla Cava line includes the largest cigar the Padilla has ever released.
  • I smoked both the 550 and the 660 vitola and found them to be remarkably similar in most aspects: profile, construction and strength levels. Interestingly, the smoke is noticeably thicker in the 6 x 60 vitola, but unsurprisingly, the flavors are far less distinct in that format as well.
  • Ernesto Padilla studied at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and does designs the Padilla art himself, including the artwork for the Cava release.
  • Padilla is distributed by Oliva Cigar Co., meaning the cigars will be shown in the Oliva booth at the 2014 IPCPR trade show and convention.
  • Smoke smells strongly of cedar and black pepper.
  • Although Padilla Cigar Co. was officially founded in 2003, owner Ernesto Padilla confirmed that there will be a 10th anniversary blend using seven year old tobacco that will be released this year.
  • This cigar gets bitter fast if you puff too hard, on both the 550 and larger size. Keep it slow, or you will lose any nuance that is present in the blend.
  • The 5 x 43 Padilla Reserva Corona started shipping in late April, with a price of $6.50 per cigar and is also produced at Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • The cigar smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Padilla Cigars.
  • The final smoking time for the Cava robusto was one hour and 15 minutes, while the 6 x 60 vitola topped out at just under two hours. 

Update (June 9, 2014): See below.

89 Overall Score

I have often thought that Ernesto Padilla does not get the credit he deserves for some of the cigars under his name. Yes, there are some blends I am not a fan of, but when he gets it right—like with both the new and old Miami 8 & 11, the Padilla 1932 Oscuro and the Padilla/STUDIO TOBAC Figurado, all of which I love—the tobacco just sings. Smooth and moderately complex, the Padilla Cava is definitely one of his better blends with a consistent creaminess and slight sweetness that combine wonderfully with the rest of the flavors in the profile.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.