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Spotlight Brand: Padron Damaso

The Connecticut-wrapped Padron we've been waiting for

A lighter shade of Padron

Padron is a name synonymous with expertly crafted, highly regarded, powerhouse Nicaraguan cigars. Padron Damaso is a bit of a departure for the company; while still maintaining their strict attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship, this new blend offers a milder flavor profile which is a first for Padron. The blend has been reworked and tweaked for nearly a year to ensure that Damaso delivers the same richness, character, and depth of flavor Padron is famous for, except with a milder body.

Padron Damaso comes draped in a silky, smooth Connecticut-seed wrapper encasing a blend of Nicaraguan long leaves with an enchanting mild to medium-bodied profile. Flavors abound with nuances of sweet cream, cedar, complimenting notes of pepper and a mild spice. As Jorge Padron said, “It’s Connecticut, our way,” and this cigar will simply bewitch you. Padron Damaso is a must have for fans of Padron cigars or enthusiasts of the Connecticut wrapper.

Q & A: IPCPR

Q.

What were the highlights of this year's show?

8/12/15 | by TJ of Sundance, UT

A.

The few weeks leading up to the IPCPR are brutal. For me, it’s like being a kid on Christmas Day who woke up too early to go down stairs to open presents. You know there’s all these great new cigars on the horizon but there’s nothing you can do about it…except wait. So when you finally hit the show floor, you don’t know where to start amongst the seemingly endless stream of booths. But once the dust settled, here’s my top three favorite things from the show:

Drew Estate’s booth – Whether you like their cigars or not, Drew Estate puts on a fantastic show. The booth is always teeming with music and energy while their catalog of cigars is almost overwhelming. These guys always deliver and I expect big things from their new Undercrown Shade. 

Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua – Simply put: This cigar is damn good. I enjoyed a ton of cigars throughout my week in New Orleans but this was my favorite. Judging from some conversations I overheard, I wasn’t the only one that felt that way.

Colibri Quasar Humidors – With all the new blends on the market, it’s tough to justify getting excited about a humidor but Colibri found a way with this stunner. Designed by Colibri and handcrafted by Daniel Marshall, this humidor is simply exceptional and a piece that you’ll have for a lifetime.

by Sean G

CAO Pilon

Sean G CAO turns back the dial
Pilon is a new release from CAO that utilizes a 19th century fermentation technique called the circular pilon. Using this method, the wrapper leaf is fermented at a lower temperature and at a slower rate and thus making it much more flavorful. At least that’s what they want you to believe, the real test is in smoking the cigar. With all this information swimming in my head, I lit a CAO Pilon to see if it lived up to its billing. The first thing I noticed about this cigar was the gorgeous, oily, Ecuador Habano wrapper. The CAO Pilon burned cool and slow and I would rate it medium-bodied. Construction was excellent, with the cigar being firmly packed and requiring no touchups. CAO Pilon's flavors were indeed rich and meaty, and I could really taste wonderful natural tobacco notes, with some hearty  cedar and pepper in the background. This cigar is definitely a winner from CAO, and I would recommend giving it a try.  

Article: Doug Wood of La Perla Habana

Alex Svenson: Hello Doug. Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions today. Our readers may not be aware of your history and story, but it is an interesting one so I am happy you are willing to share it. Let’s dive right in. Being in the cigar business was not what you intended as you set out to start your career after college. How exactly does a music major find his way into the cigar industry?

Doug Wood: After graduation, I taught music in the Indiana public schools for five years. As much as I enjoyed it, growing up in a small town and teaching in a small town just did not offer any opportunities. I moved to Los Angeles in 1978 where I worked in motion and television production for eighteen years. I held a long-time interest in cigars and opened a lounge with actor George Hamilton named “Cigar Bar at Hamilton’s.” I hired musicians for jazz nights which kept me involved in the music scene.

AS: How did you end up teaming up with cigar master Carlos Torano Sr.?

DW: I have known Carlos for well over twenty years. He has been a mentor to me. He taught me not only about cigar production, but more importantly, guided me through the business part of the industry. That was very helpful in setting up my company. One distributor recently told me that my association with Carlos was the longest, successful affiliation in the industry. I guess most of our colleagues only last a couple of years before they part ways.

AS: Your brand is one of the few boutiques around during the boom that survived and is still as popular as ever. What was your secret to staying relevant in the market?

DW: The secret during the boom years is the same as it is today. You have to provide customers something that they can’t get from the corporate cigar giants. That something is the constant attention to detail. Even though our numbers were small, we took pride in the consistency of our cigars. It was a tough time early on but I was determined to succeed.

AS: Speaking of thriving when times are tough, after the new Federal Excise tax increase, when most cigar makers were forced to raise prices, you took a different approach and lowered yours. What was your philosophy?

DW: My cigars were always $6 to $8 when everyone else had pricing of $4 to $6. Because of the tax, everyone was raising prices. I saw this as a tremendous opportunity to occupy these lower price points which most makers would not be able to sustain. To compete, I decided to take a major hit in profit and simplify the packaging as much as possible. My hope was to earn the end consumer’s trust and loyalty even more so than before. It paid off as sales have spiked and continued to rise since the tax passed.

AS: Speaking of packaging, I see you are making another round of changes soon. The new designs you showed me are beautiful.

DW: Thanks. Yes, we are redesigning the Black Pearl ​line. To make the new price points work, we really had to pull back on the packaging. While it was successful, I think it took away from some of the iconic imagery the brand is known for. So we will be repacking Black Pearl in a traditional wrap set box. This will still allow me to maintain my aggressive price points but also fully take advantage of the brand’s look. The new packaging should start shipping later this year.

AS: Your new La Perla 1515 has been a huge hit. What can you tell us about the blend and the significance of this project?

DW: I’m glad that we were able to introduce La Perla Habana 1515. I’ve been planning this release for six years now with different presentations and finally decided on one last year. The label references the founding year of the capital city of Cuba. 2015 celebrates Havana’s 500th anniversary. I intend on adding more lines under the 1515 series featuring different profiles to commemorate this occasion. The blend is a knockout. It is one of the only cigars on the market to use both wrapper and binder from Ecuador.

AS: Is there anything else new you are working on that you can share with us?

DW: I’m sampling different cigars using a special Connecticut blend. I have been saving this blend for several years, waiting for the right opportunity. We’re putting the final touches on the graphics. I hope it will be ready for the holidays.

AS: Residing in the Beverly Hills area, you are also a member of the esteemed Grand Havana room which is arguably the most exclusive cigar club/ lounge in the country. Most people never get a chance to look inside. What is it like in there?

DW: The Grand Havana Room is truly a sanctuary for the cigar smoker. It is one of the few places in California that you can eat and smoke. Each member has a named humidor for cigar storage in one of two climate-controlled rooms. The main lounge includes a bar, casual seating areas, and tables for meals. There is also a private salon for dinner parties and card games. The membership list is kept confidential to protect the privacy of the associates. Each member has a key to access the club. Being in Beverly Hills, the roster includes many celebrities and business executives who enjoy a good smoke among like-minded aficionados.

AS: Where do you see the La Perla Habana Brand in 5 years?

DW: Five years goes by quickly. I think we will continue to add to our cigar portfolio making sure that every new line is the same high quality for which we are known. We were deliberate and somewhat cautious in introducing new cigars twenty years ago.  We wanted to guarantee not only value and quality, but the support of our customer base. We continue to value everyday smokers because we are everyday smokers. We’ll never introduce a cigar that doesn’t meet the standard of La Perla Habana. That is the one way to assure continued success.

AS: Is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap up?

DW: I’m just grateful for all the loyal supporters we have. They’ve stuck with us through good times and bad over these past twenty years. Customer loyalty is perhaps easy to define, but the many variables that cause this allegiance is much harder to put into words. I simply appreciate our customer’s conviction.

Adroit