2011 Cigar of the Year – La Palina El Diario

The best is saved for last.  The 2011 Cigar of the Year countdown has reached a conclusion.   With that point, it is time to announce the #1 cigar for 2011.  This year, the honor for 2011 Cigar of the Year goes to the La Palina El Diario.

Last year, I fell in love with the La Palina Family Series and ranked two of the blends in my Top 7 for 2010.  The El Diario represents a new blend released by La Palina and company founder Bill Paley.  The shoes were going to be tough to fill -especially after La Palina released two outstanding cigars in 2010, yet the El Diario comes through with flying colors.

La Palina is not a big cigar company, but they clearly a boutique cigar company that is on the rise. Last year, Paley launched La Palina Cigars – resurrecting the brand of 
his grandfather Samuel Paley.  It is clear from listening to Paley that the goal from the start was to build one of the best cigars in the marketplace.  With his initial launch – the Family Series, it is clear he succeeded in doing this. For his follow-up it’s clear
that Paley wanted to provide a high quality smoke that can be enjoyed by
cigar enthusiasts on a daily basis.   The end result was the launch of
the La Palina El Diario (Diario means “daily”).  The El Diario has a lower price point than the Family
Series. After smoking the El Diario, I felt there was no loss in quality
or enjoyment whatsoever.

The La Palina El Diario is an amazing smoke.  The cigar has a highly complex flavor profile, but there is something old school about this cigar.  This old school feel is more of an intangible.  While it takes me back to the days when my grandfather and his friends smoked cigars, it also has modern flavor nuances to balance the old school tobacco taste.  The flavor profile consists of coffee, chocolate, caramel, citrus, pepper, cedar, and baker’s spice.  It even has hints of berry and cinnamon. The flavor profile takes many twists and turns along the way – and these vary from vitola to vitola.  The cigar is medium to full in strength – and this balances perfectly with the full-bodied flavors of this cigar.

Once these cigars made it to retailers shelves, they have been consistently excellent in terms of burn and draw.  A truly well-made cigar.

As the #1 cigar, the La Palina El Diario will be inducted automatically into the 2012 Cigar Coop Hall of Fame.  It achieves the Historic/Hall of Fame assessment status as well.  Inductions are scheduled for October, 2012.

Click here for the pre-release assessment done on this cigar. A final assessment rating was given later in the year.

Blend Profile

For a lot of 2011, I have been mentioning the renaissance in Honduran tobacco.  The El Diario leverages a nice share
of Honduran tobacco.  The blend has an intriguing mix of Corojo and
Criollo.  The El Diario is also made
out of the Fabrica de Tobacos Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras.

Wrapper: Honduran Corojo ’99 Rosado
Binder: Honduran Criollo ’98 (Double binder)
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 and Criollo ’98

Vitolas Available

The La Palina El Diario was available in five classic vitolas for 2011.  A new vitola “K.B. (Kill Bill)” is being introduced and added to the line in early 2012.

Churchill:  7 x 50
Torpedo:  6 1/8 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 58
Toro: 6 x 50
Robusto: 5 x 52
K.B. (Kill Bill – Petit Corona): 4 1/4 x 40 (Due in 2012)

Recommended Vitola: Robusto

While ultimately I am a big ring gauge fan, it was the Robusto that really captured me.  The 5 x 50 ring gauge was ideal for delivering the flavor profile I mention above.

Note: The 2011 Cigar of the Year festivities do not stop here.  We still have to go through the 2011 Honorable Mentions, 2011 Best New Vitola , 2011 Best Aged Cigars, and Top Cigar Stories for 2011..  These will not be countdowns, but will be done as lists.  They will be released starting January 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively.