One could perhaps assume that the office soundtrack at Padrón headquarters is stacked with every version of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” known to man. Regardless, the company sure likes to celebrate relevant anniversaries, birthdays, and historical milestones. After establishing their “Thousand Series” as one of the reference points for Nicaraguan cigars, Padrón began releasing special blends and vitolas. While a complete discussion of those cigars would require a separate monograph, here are some of the highlights—
- Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series – A special blend to commemorate the year the Padrón company was established. The blend is manufactured in a number of vitolas with the option of a natural or a maduro wrapper.
- Padrón 1926 Serie – A special blend to commemorate the birth year of company founder Jose O. Padrón. The blend is manufactured in a number of vitolas with the option of a natural or a maduro wrapper.
- Padrón Family Reserve – A super-premium blend utilizing ten-year-aged tobaccos to recognize special events in the family’s history. For example, the Padrón Family Reserve 44 Years is a 6” x 52 ring gauge vitola manufactured to celebrate the 44th anniversary of the company. Others include the 45 Years (6” x 52), the 46 Years (5 1/2 “ x 56), and the 50 Years (5” x 54). These cigars also offer the smoker the option of a natural or a maduro wrapper.
Throughout the years, Padrón cigars have been a favorite of enthusiasts and reviewers, with many vitolas receiving scores of 92 points and higher. In fact, Eric “Master Sensei” Guttormson—the founder of Cigar Dojo—has stated that the Padrón 1926 Serie No. 9 Maduro was the cigar that initiated his avid participation in the hobby. He reviewed the cigar in 2012 and awarded it a 94% “Amazing” rating.
At last year’s IPCPR Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, the company released yet another commemorative vitola, this time under the 1926 Serie banner—the No. 90.
Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 Natural Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Cubanica S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5½” × 52 “No. 90” Robusto Extra (non-box-pressed)
- Price: $19.50 (MSRP)
The Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 Natural is one of a brace of cigars produced to celebrate the 90th birthday of Padrón founder Jose O. Padrón—the other being the Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 Maduro. Both of the cigars are offered in only one size—a 5 1/2” x 52 robusto extra. The cigars are also unique from all of the other 1926 Serie vitolas in two distinct ways. First, the No. 90 is cylindrically shaped instead of box-pressed. Secondarily, the No. 90 is encased in an aluminum tube.
Contrary to normal en tubo convention, the No. 90 is wrapped in cellophane prior to insertion into the tube. Additionally, the interior of the tube is not lined with cedar. The reasons for this departure from the traditional are unclear, but the changes do not allow the wrapper to age with a cedar encasement—an advantage most smokers appreciate when selecting a tubed cigar.
The cigars are shipped in lovely ten-count wooden boxes containing two rows of five cigars which feature an etching of Jose O. Padrón on the outer and the inner areas of the hinged lid. For the No. 90 Natural, the tube is cream in color (red for the No. 90 Maduro), with Mr. Padrón’s signature printed in gold across the lower surface. A graphic of a hammer resides above the signature—signifying Jose’s occupation as a carpenter while he accumulated the funds to start his cigar company. The upper surface of the tube contains the company’s logo with “No. 90” printed underneath.
The specifics of the tobacco composition of the No. 90 Natural have not been released by the company. All that is known is that the cigar is a “Nicaraguan puro”—presumedly utilizing the same general blend as the other vitolas in the 1926 Serie.
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The Padrón 1926 Serie No. 90 Natural is a solid looking cigar, its length one-half inches longer and its ring gauge two points higher than a vitola normally receiving the robusto classification. Its wrapper is a bit rough—with several prominent veins, more than a dozen lumps of various dimensions, a bit of tooth, and an asymmetrical cap slanting at one end. The seams, however, are very tight and almost invisible. On the “Shades of Brown” color spectrum, the No. 90 is a mixture of caramel and carob with the visible lumps displaying darker hues of hickory. A medium amount of oiliness produces a satisfying sensation when rolled between the fingers.
The cigar is encased with three bands—the traditional 1926 Serie band printed and embossed in cream, gold, and maroon; the black, green, and gold “Authenticity Guarantee” band containing the serial number (No. 939798 for the review sample); and a separate sub-band in gold and maroon identifying the vitola as a No. 90. Firmly packed from the foot to the cap—bordering on the edge of sun-dried papier-mâché—the wrapper aroma is a combination of natural tobacco and powdered cocoa, while the open foot smells of dried hay covered with a quarter-shovel of barnyard manure.
After the cap of the robusto extra is opened with a Xikar XO cutter—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw is fairly open. Flavors of coffee, earth, hardwoods, and natural tobacco immediately touch the palate, while a touch of spiciness formulates on the lower lip.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter in the traditional manner ( See: The Enthusiast’s Guide to Soft Flame Lighting) the first few draws deliver an explosive blast of white pepper. At a quarter-inch into the burn, this primary note begins to produce a discernible harshness at the back of the throat. The draw of the robusto extra has a bit of desirable resistance, generating a sizable amount of smoke output from both the cap and the foot of the cigar. A note of sun-bleached cardboard begins to blend with the dominant white pepper flavor, while strong pepper and spices are dominant on the eye-watering and sinus-clearing retrohale. The third retrohale triggers a triad of vigorous sneezes.
As the No. 90 Natural enters into its second third, it begins to display the following general characteristics—medium in body, medium in strength, and full in peppery flavor. With determined and focused concentration, some additional—but subtle—aromas and flavors can be found flirting with the white pepper. These include cocoa, coffee, and hay. The smoking experience is very dry, requiring large and frequent sips of San Pellegrino—my preferred beverage when reviewing cigars.
Room aroma is a moderate mix of natural tobacco and whiskey sweetness, reminiscent of the initial entry into a favorite watering hole which allows the smoking of cigars. The burn line is very sharp, holding one and one-quarter inches of oyster-gray ash highlighted with streaks of raven between the loosely-compressed stacks. As the ash naturally falls to the floor, it disintegrates into a fine powder. The retrohale remains almost overpowering, with fleeting notes of cedar and soil mingling with the strong pepper component.
As it burns through its final third, the No. 90 continues to deliver a pepper-forward smoking experience. The draw remains very open, requiring only single puffs to produce bountiful amounts of ceiling-clinging smoke. Ash continues to fall off in over one-inch increments, leaving an unusually sharp burn. An overall bitterness appears near the end of the cigar’s life, producing an unpleasant flavor across the tongue. With one and one-half inches left, the cigar is placed in an ashtray allowed to naturally extinguish itself.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Probably not.” While the No. 90 Natural is excellently constructed and delivers an outstanding draw, the flavor profile lacks the complexity usually expected from a super-premium cigar. However, if you love Nicaraguan “Pepper Bombs” then the No. 90 is certainly worth a try, especially if you are going to pair it with a sweet adult beverage. As for me…well…I’m going to stick with the 1926 Serie No. 9 Maduro—a staple in my humidor.
- Smoking Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: coffee with sugar, Coca Cola, old fashioned, singapore sling
- Purchase Recommendation: try one or two
- Excellent Draw
- Price Point
- Lacks Complexity