Padilla Achilles Edicion Especial 2006
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I waited long enough to post a full review of a Pepin Garcia smoke, right? It might be a little sadistic to begin with the Achilles since (a) the days of Pepin-made budget smokes are all but over; (b) stock of the Achilles was swallowed up by greedy Pepin-whores some time ago. But let us wax nostalgic together…
The Padilla Achilles was made in one size, a 6″ x 50 toro, as an exclusive for Cigars International. This Nicaraguan puro, unlike prior Padilla-Pepin collaborations, was produced in Esteli, Nicaragua. CI’s website pegs total production of the Achilles at 50,000, other sources say 60,000. Either way, it wasn’t enough, as fans of Don Pepin still roam the net in search of hidden stash.
Aside from the limited production, the feature that made the Achilles noteworthy was the price. According to CI’s website, MSRP was an absurd $10 per stick. In practice, however, they went (in mazos of 6) for $2.00-$4.00 each on C-Bid. At a time when all things Don Pepin were blowing up in price and popularity, these were a steal rivaled only by the CI Legends Series Yellow Label.
This is a good looking smoke, bearing an oily, nut brown corojo wrapper with moderate veins. Though this Achilles, like the mythical version, has its weakness — the wrapper is thin and prone to cracking. Minor changes in the storage environment cause cracks at the foot, and worse, fatal ones at the head. I have been forced to pitch a few.
The Achilles begins with the usual DPG peppery kick, but it is tempered by a creamy, vanilla note reminiscent of Connecticut Shade. It achieves a nice balance almost right away. The pepper is always present in the throat, but the Achilles doesn’t boast the dominant spice of a DPG Blue Label or 601 Red. It is more comparable to Don Pepin’s lighter fare like the DPG White Label, Vegas Cubanas, and Legends Yellow Label.
The CTS notes fade by the halfway mark, giving way to damp leather, a little wood and a faint hint of peanut (again, not unlike the Legends Yellow). The only off flavor is an occasional grassy note, but those are few and far between. The texture turns dry on the final third, so keep a beverage handy. The body remains in the medium range throughout, though it is extremely rich.
The Achilles burns and draws well, even when stored at RH levels that wreak havoc on other DPG smokes. This may indicate a lower ligero content, resulting in a more constant combustion rate between filler and wrapper? Only the blenders know for sure.
The recent split between Ernesto Padilla and Don Pepin ensures we shall never see this one again. No encores like Padilla’s other “Edicion Especial,” the Obsidian. But if you can get your hands on a mazo via mysterious source or trade with a B/SOTL, you’ll have a top shelf Don Pepin at a Don Tomas price.
CONCLUSION: The Padilla Achilles is a cult classic for a reason. The fragile wrappers are impossible to overlook, but otherwise it’s a gem. To my palate, it is one of DPG’s tamer blends, but you give up nothing in the way of flavor. It is medium bodied, rich and satisfying. Get them if you can.