Read about one of the legendary cigar makers well-known to the cigar aficionados. Jose Orlando Padron forever changed the cigar industry and helped to make the world a better place.
If you ever take a slow walk through the shelves of your local cigar shop humidor (or you just sit at your desk and click through the contents of your favorite online cigar shop) you will find many cigars for sale. A variety of different names, different labels, and different vitolas. Each one of these cigars for sale online or at your favorite local walk-in humidor has a story behind them.
Some of these stories are just beginning, as is the case with many great boutique brands that you can enjoy near your home. Some of these stories are over a hundred years old. And some deserve to be told so that we remember how cigars came to be in the beginning when they were first introduced to Europe by the crew that came with Christopher Columbus.
Jose Orlando Padron is a name that surely is worthy of mentioning in the lore of cigars. Born in 1926 in Cuba, Jose Orlando Padron grew up on his family’s tobacco farm. Jose Padron talked about how his grandmother would sit at a little table and make cigars for the family, saying “two things they were never without – wine and cigars.”
Here, the story begins to resemble one that many great cigar makers have told. In 1961, Castro’s communist government, backed with forces from death squads like the one Che Guevara ran, came to Jose Orlando Padron’s family’s tobacco farm. They seized the land from the Padron family, and Jose Padron fled to Spain, later to move on to the United States.
In 1961 in the United States, Jose Padron was having a hard time finding work that was regular and decent-paying. Three years later, in March of 1964, Jose Padron decided to set up a shingle and filed the permits so he could operate a cigar factory. Six months later, he opened up for business in Miami, manufacturing cigars with only one cigar roller, making about 200 cigars every day.
Jose Orlando Padron’s early customers were buying his cigars for a quarter each, and he was mostly selling to Cuban expatriates like himself. In 1968, he first tried importing Nicaraguan tobacco, and went from making 479,000 cigars in a year to 800,000 cigars in a year, and changed his company forever at the same time.
He fell in love with Nicaraguan tobacco so much that in 1970, he decided to move his cigar company from the United States down to Nicaragua, and went quickly from being a local cigar manufacturer who sold mostly to expatriates from his homeland to being a cigar maker whose goods are on the shelves of every great cigar shop in the world. His products spanned from America to Europe and even to the parts of Asia people don’t think of when they think of cigar smokers. His cigars became available everywhere, and they are still easily available for sale from local and online cigar shops.
But Jose Orlando Padron was not satisfied just making cigars that you can find on every corner of the world. No, he decided that he wanted to also make the world a better place in some small way. So, in the 1970s, he began to travel to Cuba to attempt to negotiate the release of political prisoners.
He was successful, too. He managed to talk the Cuban government into freeing political prisoners, even once meeting with Fidel Castro in order to negotiate a release. This did not make his Miami branch popular with Cuban expats, though, resulting in protests, complaints, and even an attack on his Miami facility. Jose Padron didn’t care; he knew that he was doing good work, and he believed thoroughly that it was worthwhile.
When asked how he would like to be remembered after almost ninety years of life, his response was “As someone who has helped others.” Jose Orlando Padron went on to say that “What I’ve had, I’ve shared with other people, with my family.”
Jose Orlando Padron took over a hundred years of cigar knowledge, brought it to the United States, and made it into a cigar brand that is familiar to many around the world. All the while, he worked to help his family, and to help people in his homeland who were being oppressed by a dictatorial regime.
Jose Orlando Padron was laid to rest on December 9th of 2017, at a Catholic Church in Miami. His cigars, though, will live on, and whenever you smoke one, take a moment to reflect on the kind of man who brought them to international acclaim.
El Cigar Shop is an online tobacco shop that carries a large variety of premium and rare cigars from various regions throughout the world. We know and love the pleasures of cigar smoking and enjoy bringing our customers their favorite products for the lowest price available. We are located in Glenside PA, but distribute our products throughout the world. If you happen to be near Philadelphia and looking for a great local cigar store, come pay us a visit. Be sure to CONTACT US if you have any questions or want to see if we have your favorite cigar in stock!