There is a curious term Homer uses to describe Achilles: ainaretes. It isn’t easily translated, but it means something like “terribly excellent” or “darkly brave.” I read classics as an undergrad and now, whenever I hear the name of this powerful and tragic figure, I think of this term. I’m not sure why Ernesto Padilla chose to name his special edition cigar in this manner– maybe Homer has nothing to do with it — but for me there is something dark and brooding and yes, powerful, about this blend which might bring Achilles to mind.
As with his Padilla Miami 8 & 11 and his Signature 1932, this cigar is blended by Ernesto Padilla and executed by Jose “Don Pepin” Garcia. Unlike the other two, which are made in Garcia’s Miami factory, the Achilles is produced in his Tabacalera Cubana in Esteli, Nicaragua. Distribution is exclusive to Cigars International, as far as I know, and the production has been limited to 60,000 cigars in one size only: a 6 x 50 toro.
This is a Nicaraguan puro with a Nicaraguan corojo wrapper. It’s a handsome and solid looking stick. The wrapper is very smooth and slightly glossy, and the head is finished with a beautiful triple cap. From start to finish this cigar has great construction: an easy draw, a fine white ash, and a mostly regular burn. (I let these stabilize for a month in the humidor after receiving them, which is a good practice with any of Don Pepin’s smokes.)
It starts out with pepper on the palate and begins to mellow after the first half inch or so. It gets creamy with leathery undertones for the next couple of inches and then the pepper returns. The aroma from this corojo is fantastic. I think the wrapper is the secret to all of Pepin’s cigars, and this one is no exception. There is a caramel and bread-like aroma here that I have found only in Havanas and in Garcia’s cigars, which is probably what so frequently earns his cigars the title “Cubanesque.” I would mark this one down on just one point: there is a slightly greenish, astringent quality to the tobacco which to my palate indicates some young leaf. It isn’t overpowering, but it is present and persistent. The combination of sweet caramel breadiness and this astringent quality is what makes this cigar smoke “dark,” I think. But again, this is not unusual for a Pepin produced cigar. He seems to be making cigars not just for today, but for years to come.
Padilla’s Achilles is a medium to heavy bodied cigar that packs a decent punch, like the warrior who shares its name. Smoke them slowly with a cool drink after a good meal. These won’t be around forever, so you’d be wise to pick up a few mazos now, try a few, and put the rest to sleep in a deep dark pleasantly humid place where they can mature in peace. A couple years down the road and I bet this will be a classic.