At the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Padilla Cigars introduced a variety of cigars including three new lines all from the same factory. The factory is Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. in Honduras and the lines are Padilla Corojo 99, Padilla Criollo 98 and San Andrés

In and email with halfwheel, Padilla described the process of blending the cigar:

Overall I started working on these blends almost a year (ago.) The goal was simple but not easy… To make a great cigar that retails for less than $7. Like I told the factory, not an “ok cigar”, not a “not bad for the money cigar” but cigars that will over deliver of taste and construction. All these blends are triple capped and rolled entubado. This is important when you are working with components from so many different farms.

As the name implies, the Padilla Criollo 98 incorporates a criollo 98 wrapper that is grown in Honduras, along with binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. Each blend is being sold in three different vitolas at launch, all in boxes of 20: a Robusto (5 x 54, $6), Toro (6 1/2 x 54, $6.50) and Double Toro (6 x 60, $7). According to Padilla, all three versions will ship next week.

Padilla Criollo 98 Robusto 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Padilla Criollo 98 Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: Criollo 98
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6 (Boxes of 20, $120)
  • Release Date: August 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The Padilla Criollo 98 makes an impression when you first see it, with a gorgeous milk chocolate brown wrapper that is devoid of oil and silky smooth to the touch. The band covers up almost half of the total length of the cigar, and the cigar is a touch hard when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of almonds, cinnamon, leather, earth, barnyard and grass, while the cold draw brings flavors of tobacco, creamy nuts, oak and slight black pepper.

The cigar opens with some strong creamy cedar up front, along with other notes of bakers spices, dark chocolate, bitter espresso, leather and hay. There is a wonderful amount of black pepper on the retrohale as well as some slight spice on the tongue, and a nice vanilla sweetness is noticeable in the profile from the first puff that seems to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. Construction-wise, the Padilla features both an excellent draw and a close to razor sharp burn so far, and while the smoke production is above average, it is not annoyingly so. The overall strength is not a major factor yet, and ends the first third well short of the medium mark.

Padilla Criollo 98 Robusto 2

Coming into the second third of the Padilla Criollo 98 and the dominant flavor has shifted to more of a bitter espresso bean note, although the creamy cedar is right behind it, followed by other flavors of cocoa, leather, grass, anise, wheat and a touch of oak. The sweetness still reminds me of vanilla, but it has leveled out, and does not seem to be increasing as much as I expected. There is still a great amount of black pepper on the retrohale, and the construction remains excellent for both the draw and the burn. Strength-wise, the Criollo 98 has come closer to the medium mark, but fails to push through by the end of the second third.

Padilla Criollo 98 Robusto 3

An interesting floral note becomes noticeable on the finish during the final third of the Padilla Criollo 98, although the dominant flavor remains the same bitter espresso note. There is more creamy oak on the retrohale as well, joining toast, hay, leather, almond and a slight spice on the tongue. The vanilla sweetness is still quite evident, but only on the retrohale, and it still does not seem to be increasing at all in strength. The draw and burn continue to impress, but the smoke production has decreased slightly from its high during the second third. The overall strength finally breaks through to the medium mark, but just a few puffs before I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.

Padilla Criollo 98 Robusto 4

Final Notes

  • Padilla has produced a number of blends I have really loved over the years, including the original 8 & 11 and the 1932 Oscuro, among others.
  • The vast majority of the flavors in this blend are relegated to the retrohale, so if you are not retrohaling, you are pretty much wasting your time.
  • Although it looks like there are two—or even three—bands, there is actually only one giant band that covers more than half of the total length of this vitola. It really is a bit overwhelming when looking at the cigar, especially in the robusto vitola.
  • I find it refreshing as well as impressive that Ernesto Padilla himself still does the vast majority of the marketing for his cigars, including designing all of the logos for each line of cigars that his company produces.
  • Charlie Minato covered the Padilla booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show here.
  • I photographed a portrait of Ernesto Padilla here.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged a relatively quick one hour and 15 minutes.
  • The cigars for this review were given to halfwheel by Padilla at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
87 Overall Score

Padilla has been looking for a consistent identity for a while now, and with the recent addition of the La Pilar and this cigar, he seems to have taken a major step in the right direction. In fact, this blend has quite a bit of what you would want in a $6 cigar: very nice flavors, a rich profile, and excellent construction almost from the first puff to the last. Yes, the overall profile could stand to be a bit more complex, but at this price that really is spitting hairs. An excellent choice for those looking for a cheaper option that does not sacrifice the quality of the profile.

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.