The La Palina Mr. Sam is one of those cigars that jumps out at you. Well, it jumped out at me anyway. It has a great look with the classic La Palina band and it has that great name, "Mr. Sam." It's like when you were a kid and you had a super rich neighbor - you called him Mister. You were a kid, and you had to show respect, but he was pretty cool and told you to call him Sam. So you went with "Mr. Sam." (I'm afraid that makes sense to no one except me.) OK, we'll move on.
La Palina Mr. Sam
Factory: El Titan de Bronze
Size: 4.75 x 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Price Point: $12.00
Cigars for review were purchased at Ohlone Cigar Lounge
Pre-Light: As I mentioned before, the Mr. Sam has curb appeal. The La Palina band screams "classic cigar" and the second band has a simple, yet elegant, look. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper was a perfect golden brown and the construction was spot on. The cap application on this particular cigar was flawless. It was the perfect triple cap. It was so perfect, it was almost a shame to cut it. The wrapper gave off notes of peanut butter (I'm not kidding - it really smelled like peanut butter!) and warm cinnamon spice, while the foot gave off notes of hay. The cold draw was smooth and tasted like mild milk chocolate and raisins.
Beginning: Mr. Sam had a smooth beginning. The burn and draw were perfect and the flavors built upon each other in a uniquely smooth manner. I was hit with a note of creamed coffee first. That was joined by some toasted caramel and topped off with a nice, white pepper spice (more heat than flavor). The balance was perfect and these three notes dominated the early stages. As I neared the middle, the spice began to build on the retrohale and the caramel sweetness settled on the tongue.
Middle: The spice build up was short lived, and that was a good thing. I was worried that the white pepper was going to take over, but it did not. I was waiting for a nutty note to show up, and it did just past the mid-point when a peanut flavor joined the show and was the perfect addition. This was right around the time that the spice cut back. At this point the flavor menu consisted of creamed coffee, toasted caramel, nut and white pepper. Things stayed this way for quite awhile, and it was my favorite part of the cigar.
End: The white pepper kicked back up and, this time, it was here to stay. I often hear that people confuse spice with strength; this is the kind of cigar where I can see someone making that mistake. While it became much more spicy toward the end, the strength never passed the point of medium. The flavor was full without a doubt, but the strength settled in the medium range.
Final Thoughts: The Mr. Sam gave me a lot to think about. There was a ton of flavor in there, but you have to look for it a little bit. I talk about notes of peanut and caramel, but it's not like you're eating a Payday. The flavor notes are there and, if you focus on them, you'll be rewarded. I like it when a cigar makes you work for it a little bit. I'm the same way with movies. Sure, I like Die Hard and Rocky IV, but sometimes I want to look beyond the surface and watch a movie like Midnight in Paris. Mr. Sam falls into the category of cigars that are really good on the surface, but brilliant once you start to dissect the experience.
Recommendation: I think any cigar smoker will enjoy this cigar, even Logan. There is enough going on for it to be thoroughly enjoyed by a rookie and also deeply loved by a vet. People refer to cigars as "box worthy" and I like using that as a point of reference. The Mr. Sam is "case worthy." I don't know how big a case is or how many Mr. Sam's we can fit in said case, but I'd buy it regardless. The Mr. Sam is unequivocally one of the best cigars I smoked in 2013.