La Palina Classic Robusto 5X52
Wrapper: Brazilian Habano
Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan
Ever since I started smoking cigars, I have always loved grabbing singles to try out and explore new blends and companies in the burgeoning boutique cigar business. La Palina is a brand that I continually hear about amongst aficionado’s all over the country. I have had the pleasure of smoking a few of their blends, and while I enjoyed all of them, I have yet to find one that fits my tastes. However, I understand the subjectivity of palate’s and tasting cigars, so I always try to get my hands on everything a blender has to offer and try two of each to determine if I like it. From time to time, I go B&M hunting for new cigars and hidden gems, and the Classic caught my eye on a recent man mission for cigars and sprits. I always write this paragraph and look at the blend as the last part of my reviews, and I must say the history of La Palina is rather intriguing. If you get a chance, check out their website, as the owner, Bill Paley, had a long lasting relationship with Avelino Lara involved in the rebirth of his family’s brand. Any time you have a history of making cigars spanning a hundred years and involve a legend like Avelino, attention to detail for the discerning palate is a must. Paley has achieved this as evidenced by his numerous 90+ ratings from reviewers and publications spanning the globe. I must tip my hat to him, for specifically employing a banner at the top of their homepage advertising all the independent reviewers with the major publications, whom included La Palina cigars in their top rated cigars of 2012. That means a lot to people like us Bill; I look forward to one day chatting with you over a fine cigar. Enough rambling, on to a surprisingly good smoke…
Prelight: Dark molasses and brown sugar with a distinct red pepper burn on my lips
First Third: I was a bit surprised to get an initial blast of musk that reminded me of a Henke blend, so immediately I was intrigued by what was to come. The finish was very long and intriguing, leading my mind on a chase for flavor notes and distinction in the tobacco, with a retrohale adding cedar and mild pepper notes to the palate. At this point, the classic gets an A+ in my book for starting out as a flavor bomb and complexity. Several reviewers could probably review this several ways, as each palate is subjective, but the length of finish and body is not to be denied. As I progressed through the first third, my notes suggested vanilla, caramelized sugar, medium coffee bean and latte flavors, all dancing on the tip of my tongue, yet slowly developing on my palate and lingering for a considerable time. The musk really only lasted the first ten minutes, while the first third reminded me of a personal favorite, an aged Diplomaticos No 2. Consider this aficionado impressed at this point, as the brown sugar, caramelized sugar, vanilla, latte, and coffee bean flavors really entice the senses with no harshness at all.
Second Third: The retrohale picks up the brown sugar, with long vanilla and malt notes developing on my palate. The feeling mid tongue is rich and distinct as the profile mellowed significantly. For a short period, my notes suggested a movement towards medium-mild full flavor, suggesting superior tobacco as the finish was clean and smooth. As the second third progressed, earthy cumin like spice arrives and reminded me of the initial pepper from the dry draw, but not sharp like a red pepper. The Classic was begging me to smoke as slow as possible, to enjoy all the flavor and complexity available. Each draw I concentrated on setting the cigar down for as long as possible to enjoy the lengthy finish.
Final Third: The cumin notes moved towards the retro, while the brown sugar sweetness still lingered in the background; thus, bumping the complexity of the retrohale up another notch in my book. The draw provided a new flavor of nuts on the finish, but it was not distinct enough for me to determine a specific flavor other then faint peanuts. Hay also comes into play, suggesting I may be smoking a bit too fast, as my palate is really begging for more as the complexity keeps increasing through the progression of the final third. It was hard to put this cigar down, but necessary in my opinion to experience all the cigar had to offer. As the nub neared, the red pepper from the dry draw finally arrived on my lips, but not on the finish. Musk finally returned, which was probably beginning in the hay notes, and the finale included the brown sugar, vanilla, cumin, nuts, and a sharp red pepper burn on my lips that was completely separate from the profile on my palate.
Construction: No complaints, only ashed this once about halfway through.
Final Thoughts: One of my favorite past times since I first began smoking, is grabbing singles at B&M’s to try new lines and find hidden gems. Normally, I am turned off by hype and high price tags, but the Classic caught my eye on a cigar-hunting trip, and I am glad I grabbed one. This cigar is an incredible value in my opinion, and I highly suggest this. This is the first La Palina that really knocked my socks off and is box worthy to me. I am very curious to see how age would affect this blend, given the four countries, but it is ready to smoke now. Cigars like this are why I can never fall in love with just one region, as it needs no age, but will probably benefit as the oils marry. I look forward to reviewing more La Palina cigars in the future, with the Maduro next in line, and exploring the offerings of this fine company. Hats off to the people at La Palina for creating such a complex value blend, as it will surely make my top list of reviews for 2013. As I am writing this, I am contemplating driving up to the shop I got it from Monday to get more.