BEST HANDMADE CIGARS - 2005
www.padron.com José Orlando Padrón just wanted to continue a grand ancestral tradition of making puros when he uprooted his family from Cuba two years after the revolution. He set up shop in Little Havana in 1964 and fared quite well until 1978, when he joined a group of exiles who went to Cuba to negotiate the release of several thousand political prisoners. Unfortunately, a picture of Padrón giving one of his cigars to the dictator later surfaced in Miami. Affronted exilios (the boys of Omega 7 usually took credit) boycotted his business, defaced his building, and even bombed his factory. Padrón proved more resolute than the pack of cowardly extremists. As of its 40th year, the company had sold nearly 150 million hand-rolled cigars. And these are fine cigars: two dozen lines highly ranked by Cigar Aficionado magazine and other industry experts. (Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon, for example, never goes far without a couple Padróns in his pocket.) The entire process occurs in Nicaragua and Honduras, from the growing to the rolling to the shipping. The "vertical integration" system keeps prices reasonable ($2 to $25).