The Padron Family Reserve No. 50 is actually big for a robusto, 5x54, but the box press makes it feel compact. It's a fairly light cigar in the hand, too. The draw offers little resistance, so it takes care to smoke it slowly, without overheating it. It also needed more than a few touch-ups and relights, causing it to burn even hotter, which made it tough to get the strong, concentrated flavor to open up. We would make it a point to dry box these for a few days before smoking.
Now, let's be clear and say for the record that there's no such thing as a bad Padron. Even during the boom, we never smoked a single Padron we didn't enjoy. The company's reputation for quality is well deserved. Certainly, this is a good cigar; our main disappointment is that we didn't like it as much as we wanted to.
Yet we can't help being cynical about this particular release. The blend seems much better suited for a toro size, at minimum. Did profit come first here? After all, it doesn't take a CPA to tell you that selling two robustos for $25 each is going to bring in more dough than one $30 toro. With limited tobacco to work with, obviously from a moneymaking standpoint it's better to stretch it as far as possible. If that's really the case though, we're disappointed.
So okay, with all that out of the way, how did it smoke? Well, the pre-light aromas were formidable as you'd expect. Lots of pepper and pungent earth. The flavors were rich and strong: a big, woody, cocoa-and-black-cherry smack upside the head. When the cigar burned too hot, these turned sour. When it needed a relight, they got sharp and charry. But when the cigar was dead on, burning perfectly and cooly, it was delicious, if not overly complex. For the price, it seems like the only smart move is to age these to see if time brings them closer to being something truly special.
Here we again run into the same dilemma we just had with another expensive limited edition, the La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse. How much better and more special is it than the far less expensive core line? In the case of the Padron 50 Years, is it five times better than the $5.20 robusto-size 2000? Nope. In fact, considering how quickly it smoked, we might rather have five 2000s than one of these.
Let's put it up against another sibling: the $11.40 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo. Frankly, that's a tougher call. If you like a punch in the gut, the 50 Years is going to suit you much better than the lighter-bodied, more subtle 1964. But compare the 50 Years to a $13.20 1926 No. 6 and as far as we're concerned they're neck and neck in terms of having comparable character.
Listen, we understand that limited editions are special cigars that shouldn't be judged on price alone. If you like Padrons of any stripe, you will like this. Our only caution is for smokers on a budget. If you're making a sacrifice in order to enjoy a cigar tonight, there are better ways to spend $25. On the other hand, if $25 is something you can afford, have at one of these. They're little bombs of flavor and fun, and maybe you'll appreciate the short format more than we did.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING — NEW!
Starting now, for your convenience we'll be ending each review with a roundup from other sites we like. We generally avoid reading reviews of a cigar before we sample it ourselves so as not to be inadvertently influenced. However, we make it a point to read all of them we can find afterwards to see how our experiences compare to others.
The Cigar Authority found much more to like than us, noting more complexity than we detected. They also said their samples burned razor sharp, unlike our experience. However, we detect some bias as they closed their review by stating, "50 Years ago today that cigar company that set the standard was born." That may be heaping on a bit too much praise, as Padron surely isn't the only top-notch maker out there. Stogie Guys also had high praise, but noted as we did that the cigar may only be a "slight" step up from the 1926 at a much higher cost. Seth's Humidor called it "nice" and "complex" but feels it isn't the best of the Family Reserve line.
A rich cigar that's tasty and straightforward. Easy to overheat if smoked too eagerly though. Not a strong value at $25 for what is essentially a quickie smoke.