Padrón is not known for making new cigars. It’s not to say the company doesn’t, as it typically adds about at least one new cigar per year—usually offered in two different wrappers—but it’s typically just that one release, and usually a single vitola.

There are of course exceptions to that trend. Oddly enough, Padrón has made a variety of exclusive releases for specific stores over the years, occasionally the company has a second new addition in the spring, and for each of the last three years, there’s been a new Padrón included as part of an annual sampler produced for Cigar Rights of America.

The CRA Freedom Samplers are samplers that include 10 cigars from 10 different companies. The idea is that the companies donate the cigars, retailers sell the samplers and the proceeds go to the CRA, which is used to help fund legislative fights like the lawsuit against the FDA.

With an MSRP of $160—which includes a one-year CRA membership—the samplers typically include either high-end or limited edition releases from each company. The 2021 edition of the sampler, which began shipping to retailers in May, included exclusive offerings from four companies and six—technically, seven due to Ashton’s alternate cigars—higher-end offerings.

  • La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
  • Fuente Fuente OpusX Oro Oscuro PerfecxionX
  • Alec Bradley 2019 Fine & Rare HOF/506 Gran Toro
  • Jaime García Reserva Especial Connecticut Toro
  • Tatuaje Limited Capa Especial Toro
  • Padrón Black No. 100
  • Rocky Patel ALR 2nd Edition Robusto
  • Ashton Symmetry Belicoso or San Cristobal Ovation Eminence
  • Diamond Crown #4
  • Oliva Serie V 5 x 54 Box Pressed

If anything, Padrón would seem like the least likely company of the bunch to create a specific cigar for the sampler, but that’s more or less what it’s done.

I say “more or less” because the cigars it included have been part of the Padrón Black Series, a line with roots that trace back to 2016 and the release of the José O. Padrón 89 Birthday Blend Natural and Maduro, a cigar created to honor the 89th birthday of the company’s founder, though sold exclusively at Smoke Inn in South Florida. In 2019, those two cigars appeared to return, this time as releases for the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) Exclusive Series Program, and now with a name, the Padrón Black No. 89.

Once again, I’m hedging, writing “appeared to” instead of just “returned” because Padrón never confirmed the cigars were the same as the original release. Padrón hasn’t really confirmed anything about any of the cigars that use this band, particularly the CRA versions.

This is the third release for the Padrón Black Series as part of the CRA Freedom Samplers:

To my knowledge, these cigars haven’t been offered outside of their specific releases—the 2016 Smoke Inn release, the 2019 TAA release, and the three CRA samplers—though given the secrecy around the cigars, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that a single store in Sweden is also selling these cigars.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Padrón Black No. 100
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A.
  • Wrapper: Undisclosed
  • Binder: Undisclosed
  • Filler: Undisclosed
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: $16 (Sampler of 10, $160)
  • Release Date: May 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

On the second cigar, I notice that the cellophane is slightly larger than it would normally be for a cigar of this size, meaning the cigar has a bit more room to wiggle around inside of it. I’ve seen the various iterations of cigars that have worn the Padrón Black band and this definitely would get the Natural designation, even if the wrapper is somewhat dark. The wrapper has a dull brown shade and there are lots of bumps and a decent amount of veins that run down the side of the cigar. This is a peculiar shape for a belicoso with a very elongated taper and a sharp point. What’s interesting is that if you said the words “Padrón belicoso,” this isn’t the first, second or even third shape I would think of given the company’s previous releases. The aroma from the wrapper is medium-plus with barnyard, oak, dark chocolate and something that reminds me of the smell of dark rum. The foot has a stronger scent with individual sensations of cocoa, floral flavors, cedar, and a red pepper that creeps down my throat if I take an aggressive whiff. Cold draws taste of cereal, cocoa powder, coffee, gingerbread and a touch of orange. It’s medium-plus in intensity, though much of my attention is spent trying to figure out the draw, which lacks the signature Padrón resistance that comes from a box-pressed cigar.

The Padrón Black No. 100 starts a bit drier than I was expecting given the cold draw. There’s a woody base, which tastes like cedar on one sample, along with some graham crackers. Flavor-wise, I think the Padrón Black No. 100 is a bit better when I go slower, but from a construction standpoint, it seems both the smoke production and oddly the evenness of the burn benefit from a slightly quicker puff rate. An inch in, the cedar flavor has emerged as the slight leader in terms of intensity, beating out creaminess, black pepper and some dry leaves. The finish sounds similar, though it’s noticeably different. The cedar flavor separates itself a bit more than before, now sitting on top of black pepper, white pepper and creaminess. Retrohales reveal a more complex profile thanks to saltiness, meatiness and leather, which joins the ever-present black pepper. They finish with cedar over creaminess and earthiness, though the residual pepper from other parts of the cigar remains around. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. I end up finding the draw too tight on one cigar, so I make a second cut, which opens up the draw more than I would have preferred. I don’t deduct points for the cigar, as it’s a belicoso, a unique one at that, and my cuts are generally pretty conservative. That being said, the burn needs help on two samples, something that does earn deductions.

After a somewhat pedestrian and homogenous first third, I’m glad to see some additional flavors and separation in the second third. Bread emerges from the creaminess and takes over as the main flavor. Behind it is the cedar, a sour creaminess—though not actually sour cream—green grapes and white pepper. If I wasn’t paying too much attention, I imagine I would say the cigar got “creamier” in the second third, though that’s really what happens once I stop to pay attention. The finish has an earthy mixture over oak, cedar, creaminess and dry leaves that remind me of fall. Retrohales are fruitier, though I can’t pick up any specific fruit flavors. There’s some more of the bread flavors—a more distinct French loaf taste—gritty earth, mild amounts of black pepper and some saltiness. That saltiness seems to explode after the smoke has left my nostrils, pairing well with the nuttiness, French bread flavor, and black pepper. Flavor and body both remain medium-full, while strength is full. Touch-ups are needed and I find that the cigar is getting more challenging to smoke as I cross the halfway mark and get close to the taper. Smoke production is more consistent, the faster puff rates lead to a quicker heating up of the smoke that enters my mouth, and the ash isn’t as developing as uniformly as before.

While the fruitiness disappears, I find the final third of the Padrón Black No. 100 to be sweeter than before. There’s nuttiness over cedar and a bit of white pepper. It finishes with cedar over green grapes and creaminess. Retrohales produce a nuttier flavor followed by damp earth, a fruity sweetness that reminds me of kiwi, and a touch of creaminess, greatly reduced from the first third. After a pretty dominant position in the retrohales during the second third, the saltiness is completely gone in the final third. Instead, once the smoke leaves the palate there’s damp earth over creaminess and some honey. Flavor and body both remain medium-full and strength is full. I continue to find the cigar more challenging to smoke as I burn down towards the nub. This is mainly due to the fact that the cigar is just more and more unpredictable, which makes it more difficult to avoid things like touch-ups.

Final Notes

  • Whether because of the box press or the blend, I don’t find the Padrón Black-banded releases to be very Padrón-like. They are still good cigars that share some qualities with other Padróns, but I imagine if you took the band off and gave it to people who smoke Padróns weekly, many of them wouldn’t be interested in buying more of them. This is certainly the case with this vitola, which doesn’t really remind me of Padrón at all.
  • When asked, my response to “what’s your favorite Padrón” is the 1964 Natural Torpedo, which has the elongated belicoso tip like this cigar, but is slightly longer and also box-pressed. Sometimes, I think the Padrón Family Reserve No. 45 is better, though I can’t pick out which wrapper I like more.
  • While I had some issues with the construction, when the cigar was burning properly—or even slightly improperly—the smoke production was impressive.
  • Flavor-wise, this was “good, not great.” Construction-wise, this was somewhere between okay and good.
  • If I had to guess, it seems like we should see the maduro version of this cigar in the next CRA Freedom Sampler.
  • I also think that at some point this line gets released in a more widespread format. I don’t think it happens rather soon, but at some point, that just seems like the logical conclusion.
  • Padrón is a company that is known for largely not using cellophane, though this cigar comes in cellophane. Pretty much every cigar has used or uses cellophane. This includes Habanos S.A., which was passing out Cuban cigars in cellophane at an event I was at a few years ago.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged two hours and 10 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Corona Cigar Co. carries the CRA Freedom Sampler 2021.
87 Overall Score

While I don’t think all Padróns should be box-pressed, I do wonder how much of a difference that would have made in my ability to enjoy this cigar. Unless the manner in which these cigars are sold changes, I imagine there are very few people outside of Padrón, the company, that will smoke three of these cigars. As someone that did just that, I struggled with the first two to find just how much to cut off. But even when I did, I felt like a lot of what I like about Padrón’s best offerings—the tour de force of complexity and fullness—didn’t find the signature Padrón balance. If all of the cigars that have worn this black band are the same, then this was the most disappointing vitola of the bunch so far. It’s still a good cigar, though I wouldn’t recommend buying one of these samplers just to try this cigar. 

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda 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.