Its nice to have a change of pace every once in a while. I’ve been nursing a box of Padrom Anniversario Maduros (PAMs) 1964s Exclusivos for quite a number of years now, from 2003 in fact. Back in those days, PAMs were notoriously hard to find and obtain in quantity, it was certainly quite rare to be able to get a full unopened box without the right connections. I’m not sure how things are now with the PAMs, but from what i can tell, they are still a reasonably elusive cigar that can command a premium price in places where it is available.

The cigar has certainly earned its stellar reputation — consistently scoring in the mid-90s across various cigar reviewers, and a strong favourite of many cigar lovers world wide. For me, the two best things about Padron cigars are A) the full body, rich flavours and B) the consistency stick to stick. Every stick is great, and just as good as the one before, and you can bet the house that the next one will be just as good as the last. A testimony to the care and craft of the Padron family.

The Exclusivo is the robusto of the family. At 5.5 inches and a healthy 50 ring gauge, its dimensions are a classic, and hold a ton of promise. Goes without saying that the wrapper, construction and feel of the cigar in the hand is perfect. Not a vein, no soft spots, smooth and dark maduro wrapper, straightforward yet perfect. Lovely to behold.  These guys know how to make a cigar.

The scent test revealed a nice cedary woodiness, and as i brought the cigar under my nose for the sniff, i noticed that the band had turned yellow, after years of soaking in the oils from the cigar. Cool! Taking a small cut, i do a quick dry draw and am rewarded with a sweet papery dryness. Interesting. A quick toast of the lighter and i was away.

The first third was a very nice sweet flavour, dollops of dry leather, musky tobacco. Delicate and quite balanced. But none of the pepper and spice i thought i remembered to exist in previous sticks from the same box. Has 8 years of aging changed this cigar too, just like 5 years have drastically changed the complexion of a Montecristo #4 i recently smoked. It was as though the adventurous edges that i remember this cigar used to have being dulled.

The second half was an eye opener. Very bitter espresso sweetness that rocked me back on my feet a bit. It really is a very, very sweet cigar, almost sugary in the literal sense of the word, but at the same time, juxtaposed against the strong bitterness, very much like a very stout mouthful of Guiness. The spice and pepper i associate to this cigar made a minor appearance here, but retreated really quickly.

No doubt about it. The PAM from 2003 smoked very differently in 2010 than the ones i had smoked in years past. Admittedly, i haven’t had anything from this box for several years, so i’m not exactly sure when the flavours changed so significantly, but if i had to guess, probably somewhere around the 4-5 year mark.

The final third changed the complexion of the cigar slightly, providing a flavour that reminded me of oak wood chips. The sweetness was still present, with perhaps a touch of warm vanilla at the end. Complex flavours, delicate and sweet. Balanced on the light side, without hardly any presence of power or fullness. The finish was very short, and despite it taking more than an hour to burn down, i felt myself wanted to reach for another cigar to provide a more robust satisfaction this cigar could not.

Verdict: 80/100. This cigar once rated a clean 90/100 in my books. But its taken a tumble with time, which is a darned shame. The flavours are by no means bad or distasteful — there just lack that forward character and pace its younger brothers still have. The PAM used to be a cigar that slapped me into attention, this aged stick gently tickled me. Delicate and sweet, there will be some who will enjoy that, just not me.