The Padilla Vintage Reserve is just like its maker, Ernesto Padilla - very confusing. I say this because Rob and I recently had Ernesto on CigarChat, and he was all over the place - so much so, I couldn’t even a get word in. I say the Padilla Vintage Reserve is confusing just like Ernesto because I find conflicting information on the cigar everywhere I look.
In an article dated February 7th, 2013, Cigar Aficionado says the Padilla Vintage Reserve will not be packed in cello and will feature an all Nicaraguan binder.
On the other hand, while the date posted is unknown, Padilla’s website says the Padilla Vintage Reserve (PVR) has an Ecuadorian Habano binder.
I got my Padilla Vintage Reserve in a pass in November 2013, and it had cello on it.
When I reached out to Ernesto via Twitter DM, he told me the cello was added to protect the PVR since it is expensive. He was also able to confirm that the binder is actually Nicaraguan.
I just hope the cigar is better than the effort I had to put in to find out anything about it.
Padilla Vintage Reserve
Size: 6.5 x 52
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro
Beverage: English Breakfast Tea
Cigars Smoked for this Review: One
Smoking Time: 95 Minutes
Price Point: $14
Cigar Purchased: Received in a Cigar Federation Pass
Setting the Context
Unfortunately, I’m still out in my garage because it’s freezing outside. I don’t know why, but it seems like the weather lately hasn’t been in my favor.
There is one thing right out of the gate that I absolutely love about the cigar - the fact that it has an individual number for each cigar on the band. I personally think it’s a super cool touch and adds a bit of mystique to the cigar.
Construction-wise, the cigar appears to be made with care. The square box press is hard to the touch with very little give. The wrapper itself has almost a crystalline sheen on it which reminds me of the ice on my back patio right now. There are a few veins, but on the top side of the cigar the wrapper is almost perfect.
When I nose the cigar, I got some very strong notes of black pepper and salt. The cold draw had the same black pepper notes, a hint of nuts, and an underlying richness which was almost like chocolate.
Right off the bat, I was hit with the black pepper from the cold draw and a very nice earthiness. Very quickly the burn got a little wonky and I had to touch it up with my lighter. There was a very nice sweetness on the retrohale, and I could really taste the richness of the tobacco. It really reminded me of a nice dark chocolate.
At this point, the cigar is a solid medium to full in body and strength. The cigar made a sudden change dropping the pepper, chocolate, and earthiness for a very unique nutty flavor that almost compares to walnuts. The reason I really know what walnuts taste like is because we have about 50 Walnut trees in the yard of my parents’ house. I was the lucky son of a bitch who would have to pick up all the walnuts, so, needless to say, at eight years old, I was working my ass off.
The cigar changed yet again, and had notes of oak mixed with a sugary sweetness like the sugar mouth sweeteners I get while I am in India. The black pepper started to show its head again, but was much more muted when compared to the early notes I got. The sugary sweetness and black pepper combo was very interesting, and I actually enjoyed it.
Up to this point, I’m really digging the cigar. The only minor hiccup was the very minor burn issue.
The second half of the cigar continues to impress me. The first half highlighted Nicaraguan tobaccos with its depth and complexity. The second half was much more mellow and refined, and, frankly, it was almost like I was smoking another cigar.
I was still thinking of notes of black pepper, but it was mixed with a nice leather note. I should also mention that the burn has been rocking since the initial touchup.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I struggled in taking off the band. The band is super confusing and almost looks like two different bands, but it is not. The seam on the back of the band has a little Padilla logo which really isn’t in line with the band seam line, and you have to get around it to take the band off. Due to the band size, it is almost impossible for the cigar to heat up enough to loosen the glue on the top part of the band. I wanted to keep the band intact since it has a unique number on it and it looks super cool, but, needless to say, I lost the war.
After my struggles with the band, the cigar started to get tar buildup at the end of the cigar which I was able to cut around. I truly believe if the band was easier to remove it would enhance the smoking experience.
The oak notes came back and really dominated the overall flavor profile as they were much more intense than before. As soon as I wrote the previous sentence, flavors changed again to a mixture of spice and leather. Frankly, the cigar is one of the more multi-dimensional and complex cigars that I’ve smoked for review in a while.
The end of the cigar remained cool allowing me to enjoy it all the way to the nub. I was very surprised and pleased that the box press didn’t to become squishy at the end.
Overall, I was super impressed with the Padilla Vintage Reserve. It is a solid medium-full in body and strength. The cigar is complex, has great construction, and is entertaining throughout. I was very impressed by the walnut notes which I haven’t seen in too many cigars.
The only reason the cigar didn’t rate higher was due to two factors: price and the complexity of removing the band.
While the removing of the band might seem trivial, on a $14 cigar, I shouldn’t have any issues on this. Concerning price, I believe the cigar is priced only about $2-$3 more than it should be. Not sure why the cigar is more expensive, but it has to be the cost of the tobacco used.
It just comes down to the fact there are many other limited releases which are quality cigars that are available in a more affordable price point making it easier to buy a 10 count box.
Take the band removal issues and price out of the equation; this is an easy box buy landing the cigar in the 90’s in my rating system.
The entire time that I smoked to the cigar, Ernesto and I were having a very interesting conversation on Twitter. Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.
In not so many words, he told me to “live on the edge”. To counter, I might have thrown the Johnny Cash reference about “walking the line”
Ernesto direct messaged a picture of himself and a lady friend while he was driving which is super unsafe.
Apparently, his lady friend knows kung-fu, and, even more surprisingly, she knows Wu-Tang. I can only assume she listens to Wu-Tang Clan.
Cigar Snob Magazine just rated the Padilla Vintage Reserve a 93 in their January 2014 issue.
I am sad Susan Aragon doesn’t work as the brand ambassador at Padilla anymore.