|La Palina El Diario KB (“Kill Bill”)|
There is a analogy I draw to cigars when it comes to macaroni. With macaroni, one shape and size can differ drastically from another – despite having the same blend. A similar analogy, but not exact analogy comes to cigar blends. In the case of a cigar, it is the proportions of the wrapper, binder, and filler that are at play here. Now when it came to a new petit corona size for our 2011 Cigar of the Year, the La Palina El Diario, this would confirm this theory. While the first five La Palina El Diario vitolas did have their nuances, it would be this new line extension, the La Palina El Diario KB (Kill Bill) that would put a whole new spin on a great blend. The La Palina El Diario KB strengthens the legacy this cigar established in 2011 and proves worthy to be rated in such company.
The KB stands for Kill Bill. When the La Palina El Diario KB was first announced in Cigar Aficionado this past fall, La Palina owner Bill Paley said he was unable to finish the first prototype of the petit corona of the El Diario – thus the name “Kill Bill” (or KB for short). When El Diario was launched this past summer, this was intended to be a core line for La Palina to be an everyday smoke (“diario” means daily). The El Diario also provided a stronger and more full-bodied offering into La Palina’s portfolio. While the blend remains the same, the La Palina El Diario KB goes a step further – full strength and full-bodied.
Another interesting point is that the KB seems to be following a trend we are seeing more in the cigar industry – smaller length and smaller ring gauges. These smaller cigars seemed to be aimed at the winter months where folks are often smoking outside and cannot do a long smoke due to colder temperatures.
Let’s take a closer look at “Kill Bill” and see how it stands up.
As mentioned above, the KB uses the same tobaccos, but the smaller size adjusts the ratios in the blend..
Wrapper: Honduran Corojo ’99 Rosado
Binder: Honduran Criollo ’98 (Double binder)
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 and Criollo ’98
At this time, the KB will sold in packs of four. For completeness, the other vitolas of the El Diario line are listed.
KB: 4 1/4 x 40
Churchill: 7 x 50
Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 58
Toro: 6 x 50
Robusto: 5 x 52
On the wrappers of the original five vitolas of the El Diario, the Corojo Rosado wrapper provided a mix of brown with a colorado (reddish) tint. The KB cigars I had seemed to not have the colorado tint and were more classic dark brown. The wrapper was smooth and not oily. There were a few visible veins and no major visible wrapper seams.
The band is the La Palina El Diario band featuring the black and white image of Paley’s grandmother, Goldie Paley. The band is also adorned with gold-colored designs on it.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my La Palina El Diario KB, I placed a straight cut into the cap and commenced with a pre-light draw. The dry draw was a less complex than what I got on the original El Diario. I detected notes of wood, coffee, and cedar. There was definitely more spice on the KB’s pre-light draw than the original El Diario vitolas. At this point, I was curious to see how different the KB would be once I started smoking it, so it was on to lighting this cigar.
Right out of the gate, I was treated to a spice blast with the La Palina El Diario KB. I classified this spice as a cross between cedar and pepper. It ranked up there with some of the deeper spice blasts I have gotten from a cigar. There was no doubt that the KB had more spice than the original El Diario. In the background I could detect some notes of coffee as well as some sweet notes. The sweet notes seemed to be a cross between berry and grapefruit. There was definitely a more citric component to this sweetness when compared to the original El Diario. There were also times in the first third where I could detect hints of chocolate as well.
The second third of the KB really is where this cigar hit its stride. While the pepper notes did not diminish, the grapefruit/berry sweetness moved into the forefront with the spice. As the KB reached the last third, the sweetness did finally diminish. I could still pick up some coffee and the occasional chocolate note, but it was the spice that was clearly out in the forefront.. I would categorize the finish as spicy. There were a few harsh notes at the end, but this was when I reached the nub . The nub was not only firm to the touch and cool in temperature, but it was quite a finger burner (i.e. small).
One reason why Cigar Coop selected La Palina El Diario as the 2011 Cigar of the Year was because of some intangible qualities on the flavor profile – namely the cigar had an “old school” feel to it. The KB continues very much in this tradition as well.
|Nub of the La Palina El Diario KB|
Burn and Draw
The La Palina El Diario KB is a cigar of high construction – consistent with this line and with the brand. For burn and draw, the KB gets maximum points. This cigar had a flawless burn from start to finish. It also burned at an ideal rate and ideal temperature. The ash was more salt and pepper colored than white – and was firm throughout the smoke. The draw was effortless. The KB was a true joy to smoke from start to finish.
|Burn with salt and pepper ash of the La Palina El Diario KB|
Strength and Body
When it comes to strength, we go back to the “Kill Bill” monkier – this cigar is a powerhouse. While the original El Diario blend was medium to full in strength, the KB goes right into the full strength range. It isn’t the strongest full strength smoke I’ve had, but it still qualifies as full strength in my book. As for the depth of the flavors, this cigar starts out medium to full-bodied and goes full-bodied by the second third. For a short time at the beginning, the strength does have a slight edge over the body, but as the cigar reaches the second third, there is more of an equilibrium between these attributes.
In a recent assessment for another cigar, I wrote how a blend tweak can make a cigar so different. Now, I’ll say a new vitola can also have a big impact on a cigar. It’s hard to compare this to the original El Diario because it is such a different experience. Not only does the KB bring a different flavor profile to the El Diario blend, but it graduates this blend into the full-strength range. At the same time, there is something still “La Palina” about this cigar in terms of its flavor and quality. I expect the KB to be a contender for Cigar Coop’s Best New Vitola at year end. This is a cigar that is not for a novice enthusiast and I’d only recommend this to the seasoned full-strength, full-bodied cigar enthusiast. Overall an outstanding cigar and one worthy smoking again.
Body: Medium to Full (to start), Full
Source: The cigar(s) for this assessment were provided by an authorized sales representative of La Palina Cigars. These samples were initiated by the representative in order to provide feedback. I am appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.