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There are a number of times where a company sends us a press release about a new sampler and we pretty much file it away, never to be mentioned beyond that.

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Yet when Cigar Rights of America (CRA) announced it was shipping its most recent sampler, the 2019 Freedom Sampler, it merited a story because it contained a couple of cigars we hadn’t seen before.

Looking over the list of cigars included, you’ll see 10 different cigars from 10 different companies, oftentimes their flagship cigars. But two aren’t flagship cigars, and they weren’t previous releases.

One is the Tatuaje Fausto Limited SA, similar to a limited edition Fausto release that was done for Italy, though not identical and not the same size. The other is the Padrón Black No. 200, which wears the rarely seen black Padrón band.

It’s a band that has appeared a few times before, notably in 2016 with the José O. Padrón 89 Birthday Blend Natural and Maduro. It was a 6 x 46 corona gorda produced in celebration of the Padrón patriarch’s birthday and released as an exclusive to Smoke Inn, the south Florida retailer.

That cigar would return in early 2019 as an exclusive release to the members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA), this time known as the Padrón Black No. 89 but in the same 6 x 46 vitola and in natural and maduro options. While it was released in 2019, it was originally designated as part of the group’s 2018 exclusive cigars.

Padrón didn’t respond to questions about whether this cigar was related to those.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Padrón Black No. 200
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A.
  • Wrapper: Undisclosed
  • Binder: Undisclosed
  • Filler: Undisclosed
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 56
  • Vitola: Robusto Gordo
  • MSRP: $15 (Samplers of 10, $150)
  • Release Date: November 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Of the cigars in the sampler, this Padrón is seemingly the only one where the secondary CRA band is bigger than the main band, though the Tatuaje is close but it also uses two branded bands. The black band still looks odd, more for its rarity than because of any design aesthetic, though black is one color I definitely do not associate with Padrón. The wrapper leaf is trying its best to be equally as dark, though falls a bit short. There’s some visual texture to the wrapper thanks to its vein structure, but the bigger note is when I find some bumps and divots in the roll. One cigar is decidedly toothier than its counterparts, and it also happens to be the one where the seams aren’t laid perfectly flat. Two of the three samples also show a bit more give when squeezed than I’ve found in non-Cuban cigars as of late. The foot has notes of a quickly evolving aroma that starts with white grapes, moves to dry firewood kindling and then finishes with a combination of earth, chocolate brownie and black pepper that induces a few sneezes. The cold draw has the Goldilocks syndrome: the first cigar is wide open, the second is better if still a touch loose, while the third is on the firm side. Each picks up where the aroma left off but shifts to chocolate covered raisins with only minimal pepper and some attempts at tree bark.

The first puffs of the Padrón Black No. 200 offer a dry, earthy smoke that progressively dries out the palate and lips to varying degrees; the first sample is pronounced while the second has some creaminess that lessens the effect. There’s also some creaminess through the nose, which works really well in combination with a bit of white pepper and the faintest amount of rock but is no match for the black pepper in one sample. The generally open draw results in lots of smoke getting moved through the cigar, certainly more than I generally think of from Padrón, but none are lacking in that department. There is lots of dry earth and complementary notes of black pepper as the cigar approaches its second third, and while the draw is far too open, the cigar burns well otherwise.

I’m really amazed by the flavor that I’m getting from the Padrón Black No. 200 at the start of the second third, as while I’m used to what can be described as a robust profile, this feels even more robust than usual in some samples, so much so that it evokes the occasional hearty cough. There is still some creaminess that helps soften things and gives the cigar depth, yet the finish of each puff reminds the senses of what’s at the core. The same can be said for retrohales, which lean more towards white pepper than creaminess as the burn line progresses through the second third. While I’m hesitant to call this completely full-flavor and full-strength, it is about as close as I have had in recent memory. The technical performance is quite good, particularly when the draw is better calibrated.

There aren’t a lot of changes to be found as the Padrón Black No. 200 enters its final third, something that seems fitting with Padrón, one of the more stoic companies in the industry. There is still lots of earth and varying amounts of black pepper, with the creaminess beginning to back out of the profile. I could make the case that there are some hints of black coffee at times, though it just clears the bar of being worth mentioning and is hardly a defining flavor. The cigar finishes still with its rough, robust profile, and now a bit thick tree bark and touches of red chili pepper heat on the front of the tongue as well as the lips. Retrohales are either on par with that or just a bit lighter and less peppery, but still punchy and tingling on the nostrils. The draw, smoke production and burn line finish on high notes, with the cigar wrapping itself up at medium-full to full in body and flavor, and what I have come to find is some significant nicotine strength.

Final Notes

  • There is something that feels a bit odd about seeing a Padrón cigar in cellophane.
  • The Padrón Black No. 89 in both of its previous incarnations, came with the company’s secondary band that features a serial number, whereas this one does not.
  • While the draw on the first cigar was far too open, the effect was able to be mitigated a bit by taking slower, more conscientious draws.
  • Editor’s Note: The difference in score between the other two samples and the one with draw issues was over 10 points. — CM
  • Kudos to Cigar Rights of America for including a call to action on the back of the secondary band to become a member of the organization.
  • I was definitely surprised by the nicotine hit that I got from the Padrón Black No. 200; this is a rather punchy cigar that had me a bit wobbly once I put the cigar in the ashtray and stood up.
  • Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, none of us have smoked both the No. 89 and 200. However, I’ve smoked all four iterations of the No. 89 and never found any of them to be close to “strong.” Padrón didn’t respond to questions about whether this was the same blend or whether the 89s were aged, but given Patrick’s wobbly experience, it would surprise me to hear this is just a result of a size difference. — CM.
  • Beyond the cigars, each sampler comes with a one-year membership to Cigar Rights of America. The proceeds from the samplers go towards helping fund CRA with its mission.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Cigar Hustler and Corona Cigar Co. carry the CRA Freedom Sampler 2019, which contains the Padrón Black No. 200.
86 Overall Score

I could try and come up with something eloquent to say about the Padrón Black No. 200, but the cigar calls for something more to the point: this is one of the more robust and earthy blends I have smoked from the company, and the nicotine hit I got from two of them was almost concerning, both on the cigar's side and how it had me wondering what was going on with my system. Draw issues aside with the first sample, the cigar performed quite well, and while I wasn't crazy about it after that introduction, the other two samples slowly brought me around. From a strength perspective, smoke this at your own risk. From a flavor perspective, it's not the best I've had from Padrón, but in the right circumstances it could make for a fairly enjoyable smoke.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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