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The LifeStyle: Ernesto Padilla from Graphic Designer to Cigar Maker

Ernesto embarked upon a career in the graphic arts, studying at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and the Miami School of Design. He has participated in numerous art exhibitions throughout the USA and currently has works at The Gallery of Cuban Art at La Casa Azul in Fort Worth, Texas. After completing his schooling, Ernesto began working in advertising, working on various major accounts.  He moved to Miami to take a job with Tabacalera Perdomo, where he was involved in marketing and product development.

Padilla Cigars Ernesto

He himself had not been involved in the cigar and tobacco industry prior to his work at Perdomo, but he comes from a family that had been deeply involved in tobacco in Cuba. His great-grandparents had owned a tobacco plantation in the Pinar del Río region of Cuba, and his father had grown up on it. Ernesto attributes his love of cigars and the tobacco business to his father: “He always had a passion for cigars. He was like a secondary ambassador for cigars…I always loved it, always loved the business because of that.” Coming from a tobacco family, Ernesto knew or was acquainted with many people in the tobacco growing world. Working for Perdomo served to solidify these connections, and in time, he struck out on his own.

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On 24 April 2003, Ernesto and his brother Carlos incorporated as Padilla Cigar Company, and embarked on a new career as cigar makers. Within the Padilla Cigar Company Ernesto handles product development and marketing, while Carlos handles administration and management. Much of the graphic arts in the brand advertising, including band designs, is done by Coolbirth, Inc. Padilla Cigar Co. is what is referred to as a “boutique” brand,  a small company of limited production and distribution. This allows such a company to concentrate on achieving a high quality product. In the case of Padilla Cigars, they have chosen to concentrate on using very rare and limited Cuban-seed first generation tobaccos in almost all their blends, production numbers are therefore also naturally limited.

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In developing the blends used in Padilla cigars, Ernesto worked closely with several recognized experts, including master blender José “Don Pepin” García and Gilberto Oliva. The results are easily seen, for in the short time that the company has been in existence, it has become recognized in the premium cigar industry as one of the leading boutique cigar companies, and its cigars have been consistently been given high ratings.

In 2008, Padilla parted company with García due to the latter’s expanding commitments to other cigar makers. Padilla opened up his own 2,000-square-foot  manufacturing facility in the Little Havana section of Miami, Florida, to which production of Padilla’s “Miami”, “Signature 1932”, and “1948” cigars was shifted.  Production of other Padilla-branded products continued under the auspices of other cigar makers, with the “Serie 1968” made in Honduras by Tabacalera Aguilar and the “Padilla Habano” made in Nicaragua by A.J. Fernandez.

The company currently has several brands in regular production and makes special, limited release cigars from time to time as well as occasional custom brands.

Padilla Cigar Brands

Padilla 8 & 11
This spicy and creamy handmade was blended more to showcase flavor than it was for strength, and it delivers a nice, palatable, medium-bodied profile. It was named for the place in which it was rolled – in the famed Calle Ocho in Miami, on the corner of 8th Street and 11th Avenue. With an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper concealing a Nicaraguan binder and a fine mix of Nicaraguan filler leaves, this is one reprise that makes perfect sense.

Padilla Connecticut
As part of his new portfolio, Ernesto Padilla wanted to make sure he covered all the bases. After having notched several successful medium to full-bodied blends into his belt, he’s now got the milder side of things covered too. Introducing the Padilla Connecticut, catering to fans of mellower, tamer cigars.

Padilla Reserva
Medium to full in body, expect billowy smoke to unveil a nutty and creamy character that perfectly mingles with a rich Cuban-esque tobacco core. As the burn progresses, hints of gentle spice, pepper, and hearty cedar also enter the fray. Enjoyable puff after puff, the real credit here belongs to the blend at hand. Greeting you from the outside, a feisty Cuban-seed Ecuadorian wrapper, reddish-brown in color.

Padilla Reserva Maduro
Reserva Maduro is carefully crafted in the Oliva family’s esteemed factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Dark and alluring, this cigar is bursting with long-fillers from Esteli and Jalapa. Rich, fertile tobaccos grown in black volcanic soils and then patiently fermented. Draped over this hearty core, a San Andres maduro wrapper, skillfully aged to achieve a dark even color and bold character. Together, these tobaccos strike up a swarm of smoke containing smooth but bold notes of coffee, dark chocolate, espresso, and a spicy-sweet finish. Oh yes enjoyable indeed, add another feather in Padilla’s impressive cap.

Padilla Vintage Reserve
This small-run, box-pressed release is special from head to toe. Besides the snazzy presentation, each cigar utilizes a rare wrapper leaf, which really adds some simmer to the sauce….and also makes for a highly appealing flavor profile. Coming from the mind of Ernesto Padilla, and hand rolled at Tabacalera Oliva, this limited release cigar brings a lot to the table.

Padilla Miami Maduro
From the triple cap, entubo bunching techniques, and the rich Cuban-seed fillers, this bad boy screams old school Cuba. And it all starts with a dark San Andres wrapper, grown in the hearty soils of Mexico. Extensively fermented, this leaf hugs a bevy of all Cuban-seed long-fillers from Nicaragua’s most fertile and nutrient rich regions.


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