Origin : Nassau
Format : Torpedo
Size : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuador
Binder : Costa Rica
Filler : Honduras and Nicaragua
Price : ~$20 each
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I would like to thank Courtney from La Palina for sending me these cigars. Disclaimer: La Palina is an advertiser on CigarInspector.com.
I remember when I first heard about La Palina, I was not sure what to expect. An old cigar brand from the beginning of 20th century, revived and re-launched by a heir of broadcasting tycoons? This could be a big success just as well as a failure.
La Palina was manufactured from 1896 to 1926 by Congress Cigar Company, founded by Samuel Paley, an immigrant from the Ukraine who had had a brilliant career in the cigar industry, starting as a lector and quickly becoming roller and then blender. Thanks to his passion, the company was successful and Samuel’s son, William, continued the business and diversified it by investing in the radio as he saw its huge potential. This is how Columbia Broadcasting System, also known as “The Tiffany Network”, was born. At the same time, Congress Cigar Company was liquidated.
Bill Paley, Samuel’s grandson, entrepreneur and philanthropist, set a quest to create a cigar emblematic of the original La Palina. He teamed up with Avelino Lara, a Cuban master blender responsible for the original Cohiba blends who was working at Graycliff at that time. Avelino Lara passed away in October 2009, but his inspiration lives on, guiding his son Abel and his loyal Cuban torcedores.
This review concerns La Palina Alison, named after Bill’s beautiful wife Alison Van Metre Paley.
Wrapped in an Ecuadorian leaf, this 6 x 52 torpedo catches attention. The band, picturing Samuel’s wife Goldey, is a beauty to look at, large but not disproportionate. The cigar exhales a pleasant sour smell and presses me to reach for the cutter.
After a quick cut, I test the pre-draw. It’s rather loose and brings faint spice. The draw is just spot on and so is the ash, holding strong for at least two inches. As for the burn, it did require a few corrections, thus 4 stars.
The aged ligero filler is a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco. My expectations for this cigar, crafted at the Graycliff factory, were set pretty high and at first I was slightly surprised, first pulls not bringing much flavor apart from subtle natural tobacco notes. Fortunately, this didn’t last long and very soon I was enjoying a very spicy first third, bursting then smoothing out. The cigar becomes more and more complex and, well into the second third, black pepper – the main flavor so far – apart, there are notes of gingerbread, nuts and butter. The smoke is medium-bodied from the beginning and the strength is building up. As I reach the last third, La Palina is almost full-bodied and I am thoroughly enjoying it, pairing the cigar with a cup of latte.
I don't have the MSRP for this line, but I saw it for sale online for ~$20 each, which puts it in the premium category. I suspect that production at the Graycliff factory is partly responsible for the price tag, although this is definitely not the only factor. The price tag places La Palina out of the range for a significant share of cigar smokers, making it a "for special occasion" smoke.
Overall Rating :
Of course, I never tried the original La Palina, but I have reasons to believe that the new version is worthy of the name. Well-crafted, well-marketed, this brand has the potential to persist and build a following, at least among aficionados with a larger cigar budget.
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