Thanks for the review! I too love the new Padilla bands. I'm a pretty big Padilla fan, and have been frustrated with the decision to kill off most of the lines. I look forward to trying this one someday.
Review: Padilla Invictus Toro (Prerelease)
As part of the complete overhaul of his company’s offerings, Ernesto Padilla will be releasing a foursome of new cigars this summer, one of which is the Miami-made Invictus.
Made at El Titan de Bronze, the Padilla Invictus will be rb, each with an initial production of 100 ten-count boxes:
Robusto (5 x 54) — $12.50 (Boxes of 10, $125.00)
Toro (6 x 54) — $14.10 (Boxes of 10, $141.00)
Torpedo (6 1/2 x 54) — $14.30 (Boxes of 10, $143.00)
Padilla says that a new batch will be made every two months by a group of six master rollers. When I asked him for further details, he explained it this way:
The first batch will be only 100 boxes of three sizes, all 54 ring gauge: a Robusto, Toro and Torpedo. We will then do a batch that might include a Lancero or Figurado, then the following batch might be a Corona. Get the idea? So 100 top retailers will be selected, then we will announce these are the sizes we plan to make in this small quantity. We then begin to blend to the vitola and start to roll cigars and then age them.
El Titan de Bronze prides themselves on using the entubado rolling method, where the filler leaves are rolled into small tubes and then packed inside the binder leaf. It’s a time consuming process, but one that Padilla believes in as he notes that it affects the taste and helps produce the classic Cuban flavor profile he is looking for. The method is used as a means to help increase air flow and smoke production.
As b mentioned in his review of the Padilla Miami Maduro, which is also being made at El Titan de Bronze, the two cigars share a number of traits including binder, filler, sizes and factory. The Miami Maduro uses a San Andrés wrapper, however, while the Invictus uses an Ecuadorian Habano.
As for the other two new releases, the Padilla Reserve and the Padilla Premier Cru, both are being made by Oliva with the former for the US and the latter for Europe. The Padilla Reserve will be available in Habano and Maduro versions, with Double Toro, Robusto and Toro vitolas offered.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
Cigar Reviewed: Padilla Invictus Toro
Country of Origin: USA
Factory: El Titan de Bronze
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Size: 6 Inches
Ring Gauge: 54
MSRP: $14.10 (Boxes of 10, $141.00)
Date Released: August 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 100 Boxes of 10 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars)*
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
*Each of the first three sizes will have 100 boxes of made, meaning 300 total boxes and 3,000 total cigars.
The Padilla Invictus is an attractive cigar; its smooth caramel brown wrapper has just a few small veins and the lion staring back from the band seems to force your eye directly to him. The dual bands are impressive and take up a good amount of space on the cigar, yet their sleek design also gives the Invictus a distinguished and polished look. The cold draw is sweet, laced with graham cracker, honey and a hard candy note. There’s also some earthy, almost mushroom like quality tucked in there. The cold draw was a bit too open for my liking, partially a result of what looked like an underfilled foot. There’s a bit of spice that comes through, making for an enjoyable contrast to the Invictus’ sweet smell.
The first third opens with a good amount of spice wrapped in an doughy textured smoke, giving it a pepper kick that comes as a bit of a surprise, even knowing that it’s an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with Nicaraguan filler. The spice is the leading note until some dry cedar enters the conversation after about 15 puffs, and sets the tone for how the cigar will progress from here. While the technical performance has been very good so far, the ash strength is the Invictus’ weakness, as it falls off without prompting and breaks up into an ashy mess as it lands.
The fairly quick burning Invictus reaches the second third faster than I would have anticipated, largely due to the easy air flow and what seems to be to slow the burn down, though I would be interested to figure out how much the entubado process affects the draw. The flavor profile hasn’t changed much, with a fairly peppery, medium-bodied smoke that fills the palate. By the midpoint the flavors remain largely the same: a combination of some sweetness, some pepper and some dry wood that adds up to an enjoyable flavor that keeps bringing me back to the cigar.
When the final third comes around, the flavors have mellowed, or possibly just gotten a bit more familiar, making it harder to pull out individual notes. There is an ongoing balancing act between sweet and spicy happening, and for my palate it really works. It seems wrong to call it a one-track cigar, but given that the flavor hasn’t really switched directions it’s a fitting description. That being said, it’s a very enjoyable one track as the steady back-and-forth keep the palate from getting bored. The ash continues to be an issue, having landed seemingly everywhere except in the ashtray; a minor annoyance in an otherwise very enjoyable cigar. The flavors continue to coalesce into a level of complexity that gives the Invictus a very pleasing finish that gets taken all the way to the point where it’s simply too hot to continue smoking.
- I mentioned that the foot seemed underfilled — I don’t know what happened along the way, but this is what the cigar looked like when I took it out of my humidor:
It didn’t affect the performance, but it did make it more difficult to stand up for the photos. The other cigar that was shipped with it didn’t have the same thing happen.
- As noted in Charlie’s review of the Padilla Miami Maduro, this is the third factory in the US that Padilla has used, starting with Pepin’s El Rey de los Habanos and then making an attempt at opening his own factory.
- If you’re in Miami, it’s worth a visit to El Titan de Bronze to see the manufacturing process in action, and you never know who might be at the factory checking in on a yet-to-be-released project.
- I’m a big fan of the new Padilla bands and artwork, so much so that I want to say that the Padilla lion could turn into one of the great icons in the cigar industry. Ernesto Padilla studied at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and his design aesthetic is one of my favorites in the business.
- While some would argue that the bands are too big, I’m not in that camp. Yes, they’re big, but for me, they work. The second band might be seen as too much, but again: for me, it works.
- If you were wondering, the MMXII on the second band is how you write 2012 in Roman numerals.
- The hard candy note that I got on the pre-light aroma: Pop Rocks.
- Padilla said he is limiting the release of the Invictus and Miami Maduro to 100 retailers across the country, meaning this will be a fairly hard-to-find cigar. Those 100 retailers should be known shortly after the IPCPR convention and trade show in early August.
- Given that this is only available in a 54 ring gauge in its initial release, I’m intrigued to see what other sizes would do to the flavor, particularly a Figurado. I think a changing ring gauge could add a very enjoyable dimension to this blend.
- This cigar was sent by Ernesto Padilla for review.
- Final smoking time is one hour and 45 minutes.
The Bottom Line: While the Padilla Invictus doesn’t dethrone the Padilla x Studio Tobac Figurado from last year as my favorite from the company, it does earn a spot in the top five. You’re not going to be taken on a roller coaster ride of flavors with the Invictus, but rather given a steady back-and-forth of sweetness and pepper, an interplay of flavors that is a testament to a well-blended cigar. While the draw could have been a bit firmer and the ash a bit more clingy, there’s nothing stopping the Invictus from being an addition to my humidor when it’s released. The big question that remains is its availability: having blown up the bulk of his portfolio in anticipation of these new releases, and having gone down the route of seeing his cigars discounted by the big online retailers, Padilla may have weakened his ability to get back into the brick-and-mortar retailers he says will be the only ones to carry this.
Final Score: 87