In 1962, José Orlando Padrón left his native country of Cuba and arrived in Miami, where he worked in carpentry for two years before founding the company that is now known as Padrón Cigars.

The story is further explained on Padrón’s website:

In 1962, I arrived in Miami, an unknown city in a foreign land. I had to start from zero. At first, I received $60 monthly, as government aid given to Cuban refugees. I was thirty-six years old, strong, and in good health. Every time I cashed that check, I felt like a burden on the country that had taken me in. For many days, I looked for a job and did not find one. Every night, I went home and thought of the future. I was determined to do something so that I could support my family.

One day Raul Fernandez, a friend who worked in the Cuban Refugee Office asked if I had any carpentry skills. I said I did. He gave me a gift—a small hammer—which he asked me to put to good use. The hammer made me feel I had the necessary tool to become self-sufficient and not depend on a government hand-out. During the days, I worked as a gardener. At nights, I did carpentry with the hammer.

My dream was to save enough money to open a factory to make great cigars, like the ones we used to smoke in Cuba. Through a lot of sacrifice and hard work, I managed to save $600—money I made working with the hammer. With that, I made my dreams come true and opened Padrón Cigars in 1964.

I still have the hammer as a reminder of how it all started. More than forty years later…The hammer is still here and so is Padrón Cigars, the brand the hammer helped build.

—José O. Padrón

Patrick Lagreid has a wonderful explanation of what happened after that in is review of the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Maduro:

Along the way, Padrón went from making small cafeteria cigars to opening Tabacos Cubanica in Nicaragua in 1970, which was burned down during a civil war on May 24, 1978. That October, José Padrón went to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro in hopes of getting political prisoners released; as a result his Miami offices were bombed. In 1979 the company moved operations to Honduras after the Sandinistas take power in Nicaragua and interrupt the company’s operations. That same year another bomb is planted at the company’s Miami headquarters and destroys the north side of the building, while the company moved production back to Nicaragua.

The 1980s were kicked off with another bombing and graffiti scrawled on the company’s Miami headquarters, with another bomb detonated in 1983. The company endured the U.S. embargo against Nicaragua from 1985-1990, forcing production back to Honduras.

It wasn’t until 1994 that the company released its first high-priced premium cigar, the 1964 Anniversary Series, a line still highly regarded and available in humidors around the world. The 1926 Series launched in July 2002 in celebration of José Padron’s 75th birthday, followed up by the company’s 40th anniversary cigar released in 2006 and the 1926 Serie 80th Anniversary in 2007. That same year, the Padrón Family Reserve debuted with the No. 44, a line that has since grown to five release with the No. 45, No. 46, No. 85 and this year’s No. 50.

Celebrating 50 years in any business is a momentous event and Padrón knows how to commemorate an occasion in style. In order to commemorate the company’s 50th anniversary, Padrón decided to release two different cigars, each in two different wrappers.

Padron 50th Collections

  • Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Maduro (5 x 54) — August 2014 — Regular Production
  • Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Natural (5 x 54) — August 2014 — Regular Production
  • Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Maduro (6 1/2 x 52) — December 2014 — 1,000 Humidors of 50 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)[ref]Padrón made a total of 1,000 humidors of 50 between the two wrappers. The company is not disclosing the exact production number of each wrapper, but there are more Maduro humidors than Natural.[/ref]
  • Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural (6 1/2 x 52) — December 2014 — 1,000 Humidors of 50 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)[ref]Ibid.[/ref]

The humidors for the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition were designed by Nelson Alfonso and made by Golden Age. The cigars inside each humidor are individually-numbered as well, and each humidor number correlates to the numbers attached to the cigars inside. In addition to the cigars themselves, consumers who purchase the humidor will have the ability to refill the humidor five times, once per year for the next five years. The cost for all this is a suggested retail price of $5,300.

Blend-wise, the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural incorporates Nicaraguan tobacco for the wrapper as well as the filler and binder tobaccos. Jorge Padrón told halfwheel that a single roller—presumably team—was responsible for creating the cigars.

The first 150 humidors were shipped on Dec. 23, 2014, and while the vast majority of those included maduro-wrapped Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition, some natural-wrapped versions were included as well.

Padron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Double Robusto
  • MSRP: $106 (Humidors of 50, $5,300)
  • Date Released: Dec. 23, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a[ref]Ibid.[/ref]
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

The Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural is a wonder to look at, with an unblemished, smooth brown wrapper that reminds me of parchment when I run my finger up and down the length. There is no oil present at all, and a slight box-press is noticeable. Aroma from the cigar is strong earth, leather and barnyard with a bit of nutty sweetness off of the foot, while the cold draw brings notes of citrus, cedar, sweet vanilla and leather.

The first third of the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural starts off with a very distinct combination of earth and peanuts, with lesser flavors of leather, cocoa powder and hay. There is some significant black pepper on the retrohale, enough to make me rethink retrohaling, but there is almost none to be had on the palate. There is some indeterminate sweetness that is noticeable, but not strong enough to place as of yet, although it does seem to be getting stronger as the first third burns down. The draw is a bit more open than I would like, but well within normal levels, while the burn is quite good without being perfect. The smoke production is massive off of the foot, while the strength easily ends up hitting the medium mark by the end of the first third.

Padron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural 2

I start to notice a nice cinnamon note on the retrohale around the start of the second third of the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural, which combines quite nicely with a more dominant creamy cedar flavor on the palate. There are other flavors that flit and out, most notably gritty earth, dark chocolate, bitter espresso, almonds and hay, with a touch of tangy citrus that comes and goes. The sweetness on the finish has exploded in strength compared to the first third, and reminds me strongly of raisins, while the smoke production continues along the same almost overwhelming level. The draw has tightened up a bit, and the burn continues to impress, while the black pepper has decreased noticeably from its high in the first third, it is still a major player in the profile. Strength-wise, the Padrón keeps rising and while it does not hit the full mark by the end of the second third, it comes close, and is only getting stronger.

Padron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural 3

The final third of the Padrón is all about the interplay of the huge raison sweetness on the retrohale and the combination of gritty earth and creamy cedar on the palate. The black pepper is back as well, rising significantly in strength while still mingling nicely with the other flavors that are present in the profile: black licorice, leather, hay and nuts. The construction gives me nothing to complain about, and the smoke production continues to be well above average. As expected, the overall strength in the blend passes the full mark early in the final third, but seems to stall out there, and does not budge again before I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.

Padron 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural 4

Final Notes

  • The cigar is oftentimes referred to as The Hammer, but the inside of the humidor reads “Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.”
  • I have always been a bigger fan of the natural-wrapped Padróns over the maduro versions of the same blend, except in the case of the 45th, for some reason.
  • Despite the somewhat open draw on one of the samples, construction overall was excellent, and smoke production was consistently quite high.
  • Of course, all of that is not totally unexpected coming from a high end Padrón. Furthermore, that should be the case on a cigar that costs this much.
  • The humidor these cigar come in is astounding to view in person, and that is all that needs to be said about that.
  • As Patrick Lagreid mentioned in his review of the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Maduro, “The pricing on this cigar will vary a bit because of how the store factors in the cost of the humidor if they are selling the cigars individually. The store where these were purchased was selling them for $99.99, and with each stick purchased you received a raffle ticket for the humidor.”
  • The refill cigars will feature a different band so that you can differentiate between the original cigars and the refill cigars.
  • Each humidor comes with a certificate which tells the customer to go to a website and register for refills. The refills will be offered to the consumer and sold through the store that the customer originally purchased the humidor for.
  • I photographed a portrait of Jorge Padrón a very long time ago, 18 months before halfwheel even existed.
  • Because of the scores of both Padróns from the humidor, we’ve had to acquire additional ones for the halfwheel team to smoke it for our top 25 list.[ref]If you look back at my review of the Family Reserve No. 45, you will notice that score is much higher. For better or worse, it was scored on Smoking Stogie, which used a much more liberal scoring system than halfwheel’s.[/ref][ref]While the Maduro scored much higher, it was not my score.[/ref]
    • Two Padrón 50th Maduros for review.
    • One Padrón 50th Maduro for the collections.
    • Three Padrón 50th Maduros for the remainder of the staff to smoke for top 25.
    • Two Padrón 50th Naturals for review.
    • One Padrón 50th Natural for the collections.
    • Three Padrón 50th Naturals for the remainder of the staff to smoke for top 25.
  • We’ve also purchased one of each of the Family Reserve No. 50 for the collections. While we were able to get our Padróns (slightly) under the $106 price point, it still adds up to over $1,000 spent on two reviews.
  • This is a strong cigar, hitting the full mark by the end of the cigar. However, the profile is so smooth that you don’t really notice it until it sneaks up on you, something to be aware of.
  • The final smoking time for both cigars averaged just under two hours.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Natural cigars, site sponsor Emerson’s Cigars is offering a two-pack with one Maduro and one Natural included for $120. In addition, Serious Cigars is selling the full humidor.
91 Overall Score

As I was smoking each one of these cigars, a litany of adjectives kept running through my mind, with "incredibly smooth" and "supremely balanced" at the forefront. The profile is classic Padrón, not overly complex, but there is that little bit extra that I was hoping for that really sets it apart from its brothers, mostly in the sweetness that is present in the final two thirds. Is this cigar better than my favorite releases from Padron, namely the 1964 Exclusivo Natural and the No. 45? Yes, indeed. Is it $50-75 better per cigar? Probably not. As for which of the Padrón 50th Anniversary Limited Editions I like better? Natural over Maduro. Having said that, Padrón set out to commemorate its anniversary with a quality, unique blend, and in that regard, they succeeded.

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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.