A panatela is a long, thin, and currently unfashionable cigar. The latin root of the term is “pan” which means bread. Panatela is a diminutive form of the word; in Italian it means a small loaf, or a thin biscuit. In Spanish it can also mean pound cake, which might cause some confusion if you’re looking for cigars in a Spanish bakery. In this case you may want to document your experience for a future BBC comedy sketch.
Panatelas can be from about 5 1/2 to 7 inches in length with a ring gauge from 34 to 38, sort of like a thin lonsdale. It is one of the historically “standard” sizes but in recent years it has become increasingly rarer due to the trend toward larger ring gauges. The long thin aspect lends it an elegant appearance which according to some people makes it more attractive to female smokers. That sounds to me like a stereotype, so I’m not going to give it too much weight; on the other hand I’m sure there are guys out there who would feel a little uncomfortable smoking this in the pub. I can hear the Virginia Slim jokes already.
The thin ring gauge makes this a difficult cigar to roll: the most common problem is a tough draw because there are so few leaves to work with. Aside from the annoyance of a bad draw, a tight roll will result in a bitter and tarry smoke. On the other hand, if the roller overcompensates and rolls the cigar too loosely, the burn will be too hot and the flavor unbalanced.
I am happy to report that the Padron panatela suffers from neither of these problems. The cigar is actually quite soft to the touch, which I thought might be an indication of a loose roll, but the roll turned out to be perfect. It had an easy draw and an even and fairly slow burn.
It isn’t the prettiest cigar in the world — the wrapper has a few large veins and a variegated black and brown appearance. The color is similar to the finish on my Gibson 335, now that I think of it.
The Padron panatela is typical of Padron’s Thousand series. It’s full flavored from the first draw with a long finish and a slight bite that mellows after the first inch or so. The flavor is predictably woody with some rich coffee bean flavors, graduating after the mid point to a milder roast.
Despite its delicate size factor this is a full-bodied cigar that means business. It is a little tempting to smoke this one too quickly because the small ring gauge results in a smaller volume of smoke, but don’t. Take your time with it and it won’t get hot or bitter.
There isn’t a whole lot of change or complexity in this cigar, aside from the mellowing effect after the first inch or so. The lack of complexity with smaller ring gauge cigars is often due to the fact that fewer leaves can be incorporated in the blend. And while the flavor here doesn’t span the spectrum, the part that it focuses on is quite tasty.
If you like the Padron Thousand series cigars, and you can appreciate the “panatela experience,” you will most likely enjoy this cigar as well. At two to three dollars a throw, it’s worth a try. And if you’re afraid to be seen smoking an overgrown Virginia Slim, you can always herf it up Cigarfan style: by yourself in the back yard, with the dogs. The dogs may laugh at you, but they won’t tell anyone.