All of Ernesto Padilla’s year-branded cigars correlate to an event in the life of his father, the Cuban poet Heberto Padilla. The Padilla 1948 was named for the year in which Heberto’s first book of poems, Las Rosas Audaces, was published. Incredibly, he was only 16 years old at the time.
The 1948 follows the success of Padilla’s Signature 1932 — both are blended by Jose “Don Pepín¨ Garcia, though the ’48 is produced in his Esteli, Nicaragua facility rather than in Miami. Four sizes are currently in production: robusto, churchill, lancero and torpedo.
If you know the cigars of Don Pepín, you will immediately recognize the sweet corojo that wraps the ’48. The blend is, as usual, a combination of Nicaraguan criollo and corojo, but for me the wrapper is what seals the deal. While I like what Pepín has done with Connecticut Shade (in the 601 Black and the Cabaiguan Guapo) and maduro (in the Series JJ and the 601 Blue & Green labels) there’s still nothing like this Nicaraguan corojo.
The wrapper on the 1948 is a natural but dark looking colorado claro; not quite dark enough to reach colorado maduro, but there’s enough red in there to make it darker than the average colorado claro. It’s a little dry looking with significant veining. The foot is a little bit loose, but the rest of the cigar is firmly rolled. The head is flawlessly formed. There appears to be some lighter colored tobaccos, or very fine stems, at the foot; the head reveals the same thing after clipping.
Usually I find the strongest prelight scent to come from the wrapper of a cigar, but not in this case. The wrapper has a mild tobacco smell to it, while the foot has a stronger earthier scent. (Perhaps this is what I should expect from a foot.) There also seems to be something grainy about the scent, sort of like whole grain cereal, which can only mean one thing: this cigar is good for you!
The 1948 torpedo lights easily after a smooth clipping. The draw is good and the burn is mostly even: a little waver here and there, but it corrects itself and needs no supervision.
The first third is typical of most Pepin blends, but a little less aggressive. It starts up sweet and toasty with a touch of pepper on the tongue. Almost immediately the core flavors come to the fore: cocoa, caramel, and black pepper. It’s comparatively mild for a Pepin blend; it’s reminiscent of the Padilla Signature 1932, but not as intense. There is perhaps a little less complexity in the 1948, but it’s still a very engaging smoke.
Into the second third the pepper dies away and is replaced by a dry woody flavor. The cocoa persists throughout the duration of the cigar, but at this point the aroma also takes on a spicy sweet character. I’m detecting something like cinnamon… maybe. Whatever it is lends delicacy to the aroma without overtaking the basic bean flavors of the smoke.
The last segment of the cigar continues to sing the same sweet beany, mildly spicy refrain. I’m usually not one to nub a cigar, but I like this one well into the band region. And speaking of the band, I should mention there are two on this cigar: the additional one is a counterfeit control label that is discreetly placed below the Padilla band. Whether this is really necessary, I don’t know, but in any case it’s tastefully executed. (pssst… mister. I got them Piddillers you like. 49.99 a box!)
Overall, the Padilla 1948 torpedo turns out to be one of my favorite blends from the master of vanguard Nicaraguan cigars. It’s medium bodied, well constructed, smooth, and oh so tasty. If you’re really into the heavy Tatuajes and 601s, the’48 might not float your boat. On the other hand, if you’ve developed a craving for Pepin’s signature corojo but prefer the lighter side of life, this cigar is for you.
Retail prices ring up in the 8 to 10 USD range, which seems about average for upper echelon cigars these days. (Reasonably priced ones, that is.) It may not be an everyday smoke for the budget minded, but in this case you definitely get what you pay for… and maybe just a little bit more.