While Ernesto Padilla’s Instagram no longer contains the hot takes of 2017, one interesting part of his account is that he tends to document the creation of his new cigar brands throughout a good portion of the design process, both blending and artwork.
The first mention of the Finest Hour on the regular version of his Instagram, as opposed to stories, came on Aug. 7, 2018. For context, the cigar didn’t ship until five months and dozens of Instagram updates later.
Finest Hour pays tribute to the famous speech made by Winston Churchill during the Battle of France. Churchill delivered a trio of speeches to the House of Commons over a roughly month-long period, all of which have memorable quotes.
On May 13, 1940, he delivered his first speech after becoming Prime Minister:
I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
And the particular speech relevant to this cigar review was delivered on June 18:
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
As for the cigar, there are three different blends: Finest Hour Habano, Finest Hour Connecticut and Finest Hour Oscuro.
The Oscuro uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over a dual Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. The Connecticut uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over the dual Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican and Republic. The Habano, sometimes referred to as the Sungrown and the cigar being reviewed here, is a Nicaraguan puro with a habano wrapper.
All three blends are offered in the same three vitolas, and at the same prices:
- Padilla Finest Hour Habano Robusto (5 x 52) — $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150)
- Padilla Finest Hour Habano Toro (6 x 52) — $8.25 (Boxes of 20, $165)
- Padilla Finest Hour Habano Gordo (6 x 60) — $8.90 (Boxes of 20, $178)
- Cigar Reviewed: Padilla Finest Hour Habano
- Country of Origin: n/a
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150)
- Release Date: Jan. 15, 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The familiar Padilla lion is on the band, which I think works well on the Connecticut as it uses white throughout, but I’m not sure what to make of the white outline on the main band here. Aroma off of the wrapper is medium-full with melted chocolate, some acidity and something that reminds me of a chlorine-like pool smell. But more or less it smells like a melted chocolate bar. The foot smells much sweeter with a mixture of peach sweet tea, hoisin sauce, cocoa and a touch of acidity; closer to full. The cold draw is not as sweet with dry wheat pasta, water chestnut, some dark chocolate and a generic fruitiness towards the back. Those flavors are interesting and mix well, but each individual flavor is pretty muddled.
It starts with a lot of hay combined with some straw and mineral flavors, a mixture that is more reminiscent of a Connecticut shade cigar than anything else. The first third is a battle between how fast the cigar needs to be smoked to keep the burn line going and how slow the cigar should go to produce the best flavor, albeit, at the expense of the cigar almost going out. When pushed, the flavors are largely a harsh earthiness. When allowed to rest, there is a deep nutty flavor that is fairly pleasant. Unfortunately, the burn pushes me to go faster and as such the flavor is oftentimes a harsh earth characteristic that is neither unique nor positive. Retrohales deliver burning leaves, a deep charcoal flavor and a bit of some Scotch whisky-like burn. Flavor is full, body is medium and strength is medium-plus.
Once again, the Padilla Finest Hour Habano is a tale of two stories, dependent on how quickly I choose to puff on the cigar. The good news is that even when smoking the cigar at the more aggressive pace, the earthiness is not as harsh as before. When I slow down to help the flavor, I get more of a bread-like flavor and some floral flavors. Retrohales produce a lot of peat-like flavor and some burn, similar to having a Scotch, but a more deconstructed version. The finish is toasty with some peanuts. Flavor is full, while body and strength are medium-plus. I end up making a touch up, which gives me the ability to slow down a bit.
The flavor continues to be both earthier and less harsh than before. Main flavors are earthiness, peanut shells and a bit of creaminess. Retrohales deliver buttered popcorn and a bit of wet leaves. The finish is rich and developed with a deep creaminess and a bit of a burnt french fry flavor. Flavor and body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. On two cigars, more touch ups are needed, while one sample makes it to the end without any assistance.
- I wish that I had the ability to figure out which component was the culprit of the paradox between flavor and keeping the burn lit. When the cigar was given time to rest a bit between puffs there was a lot of promise and I’d be curious to smoke the cigar without that issue.
- The naming confusion between Habano and Sungrown is very real. One of the more ironic examples of this is that Cigar.com uses Habano while Cigars International uses Sungrown. Both websites are owned and operated by the same parent company.
- Editor’s note: part of the Habano/Sungrown issue has to do with Habanos S.A. becoming increasingly vigilant about blocking the use of any words that would imply or associate connection to Cuban tobacco. This could very well become a rather big trend in the coming year. —PL
- I’m not sure what to make of the Finest Hour part of the name. Even if Davidoff paid the licensing fees to use the Winston Churchill name, I don’t think the company should get exclusive rights of everything to do with Churchill. That being said, Finest Hour and Late Hour are rather close.
- Padilla has filed for a trademark on the name and I’m somewhat curious to see how that goes in the long run.
- For those keeping tabs on Padilla’s Instagram, it would seem there’s likely a NASA-themed cigar coming at some point. I guess queue the same thoughts and Fratello.
- Padilla went through a stretch where many of the new cigars he announced never made it onto retail stores nationally. Projects like the high-priced Padilla 1932 Millisime, a $50 cigar, have never been seen outside of trade show samples.
- There have been quite a few actors playing Churchill on various screens recently; my favorite is John Lithgow in The Crown.
- I was particularly fond of the storyline regarding Churchill’s official portrait. Of note, that portrait is not believed to have had a cigar in it.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes, almost long enough to stretch through a certain episode of Game of Thrones.
- Site sponsor JR Cigar carries the Finest Hour Habano Robusto.
It’s challenging to say where this would fall in the current line up of Padilla cigars because I just don’t know what that line up is. Given my past experiences with the brand, I would say this falls short of the mark, certainly of the marks left by some of the best Padillas. That being said, it’s not a bad cigar and for $7.50, I actually think it’s a decent value. So long as you are good with an aggressive earthy cigar, the Padilla Finest Hour should make for a pleasant smoking experience, but it falls short of being the tour de force that Padillas of yesteryear were, both in strength and complexity.