|La Palina Classic|
The La Palina Classic was one of two new blends launched at the 2012 IPCPR by Bill Paley’s La Palina Cigars. The La Palina Classic is La Palina’s first cigar to be made in the Dominican Republic. It also is intended be a economical priced La Palina offering with the quality La Palina Cigars has been well-known for. For the past two years, La Palina Cigars have been some of the most consistently high-rated cigars on this web-site. The big question would be – could this value-priced cigar follow in the footsteps of some very good cigars that have been released by La Palina? I recently had an opportunity to smoke a few of these – and without question, I can say that the legend of La Palina continues to grow. The La Palina Classic is another outstanding cigar released by Bill Paley and company.
For the La Palina Classic, Paley turned to Abe Flores’ PDR Cigars factory in the Dominican Republic. It was almost a year ago that Flores opened his new expanded operation in the Dominican Republic. Not only has this new operation payed dividends for PDR Cigars (We have rated the Flores y Rodriguez and the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve lines highly this year), but it has produced some great releases for other companies such as Gurkha Cigars (Gurkha 125th Anniversary and Gurkha Ghost) and Primer Mundo Cigars (La Hermandad). Now Paley’s La Palina Classic can be included with this group. In a cigar conversation I had with Paley, he discussed how aligning himself with some of the best factories in the world was a strategy he has had all along.
Let’s take a closer look at the La Palina Classic and see what what this cigar brings to the table.
The La Palina Classic is a multinational blend featuring tobaccos from four countries. It is the first La Palina cigar to utilize a Brazilian wrapper. The Brazilian Habano has a staple tobacco of the PDR Cigars factory and the PDR line for some time.
Wrapper: Brazilian Habano Seed
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
The La Palina Classic has been released in four sizes. Suggested Retail Price (SRP) is included, and the $7.50 – $8.50 range makes this the most economically priced La Palina to date.
Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 52 (SRP $8.25)
Gordo: 6 x 60 (SRP $8.50)
Toro: 6 x 50 (SRP $7.75)
Robusto: 5 x 52 (SRP $7.50)
For this cigar experience, I smoked the Robusto vitola. The Brazilian Habano wrapper of the La Palina Classic has a color resembling dark butterscotch. The wrapper has an oily complexion, but also had a silky look to it. There are also a couple of visible veins. The wrapper seams are well hidden, but not totally invisible. When touched, the wrapper also has a slight bumpiness to it.
The band is a radical change from the bands of other La Palina lines. The La Palina Classic is the first offering in the La Palina line not to have the image of Paley family matriarch Goldie Paley on the band. The La Palina Classic has an ivory background with gold trim and gold striping. A black stripe with gold angled pinstripes goes around the back of the band. The front of the band has two gold-trimmed ribbons with gold trim. One the top ribbon it says “LA PALINA” in black font with gold trim. On the bottom ribbon it says “CLASSIC” – also in black font with gold trim. A black leaf with gold angled pinstriping sits in between the ribbons.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
With my La Palina Classic Robusto, I went with a straight cut into the cap of the cigar. After clipping the cap, it was time to start the pre-light draw. While we don’t include the pre-light experience into our final assessment rating or score, it is worth mentioning that the La Palina Classic provided an outstanding one. The dry draw notes provided a mix of citrus sweetness, wood, pepper spice, and a little raw sugar cane. Since I was extremely pleased with the pre-light experience, it was time to toast the foot of my Classic and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.
The start to the La Palina Classic continued to showcase the notes of pepper, wood, and citrus flavors found on the pre-light draw. While all the flavors were in the forefront, it seemed like the pepper had a slight edge. There definitely was a bite to the pepper notes. Around the five percent mark, I also detected some raw butterscotch notes in the background.
Around the ten percent mark, the wood notes diminished. The citrus notes moved into the forefront and for a short time, the pepper moved into the background with the butterscotch notes. Perhaps it was the wrapper color playing with my taste buds, but I’ll stand by detecting the butterscotch flavor. Later in the first third, the pepper notes resurfaced in the forefront.
In the second third the pepper notes continued to be the primary flavors. Meanwhile the butterscotch and citrus converged into a natural tobacco sweetness. This natural sweetness came very close to being a primary note.
In the last third, the natural tobacco sweetness dissipated. Some wood notes resurfaced and joined the pepper notes as the cigar came to the close. I considered the end of the cigar to be more woody than spicy. The resulting nub and firm to the touch and cool to the finish.
One final note on the aroma. Normally I don’t talk too much about the aroma, but the La Palina Classic has a unique one as it burns. The aroma is a wonderful sweet spice – one of the better aromas I’ve gotten from a cigar this year.
Burn and Draw
There are several companies that are known for their impeccable construction. I would put La Palina Cigars in that category and put them up against any company when it comes to construction. The quality of the construction is reflected in the burn and draw across La Palina’s cigar lines and now the La Palina Classic joins that club. The burn to the La Palina Classic was sharp from start to finish requiring minimal touch-ups with my lighter. The resulting ash was salt and pepper colored and firm throughout the smoking experience. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal. As for the draw, there was that touch of resistance on the draw that I really enjoy – making for an enjoyable cigar to puff on from start to finish.
Strength and Body
From a nicotine profile, the La Palina Classic starts out as a classic medium strength cigar. However the strength of this cigar sneaks up on you a bit. As the cigar progresses through the first half, the La Palina Classic moves to medium to full strength. As for the depth of the flavors, I put the La Palina Classic on the upper end of medium-bodied. Overall the La Palina Classic delivers the right amount of flavor. I would give the strength a slight edge over the body when balancing the two attributes. While the strength has a slight edge, I would not say the equilibrium is not too much off balance. This cigar still showcases its flavors very nicely without being overwhelmed by strength.
While the La Palina Classic might be the most economically priced La Palina, I would stand this cigar up with many higher priced premium cigars. The Classic is a well-constructed cigar that delivers some great flavors. Last year, the La Palina El Diario (our 2011 Cigar of the Year) was positioned as an everyday smoke. Now I believe the La Palina Classic provides another option for a great everyday smoke. While the El Diario is more along the lines of my profile, the Classic scores very well here.
The complexity of this cigar should keep many experienced cigar enthusiasts happy. While it’s a little stronger for a newbie, I still would recommend this cigar to a novice enthusiast looking for a cigar with a little more strength. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again.
Strength: Medium to Full (Medium to start)
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by La Palina Cigars. This request was initiated by La Palina Cigars in order to provide feedback Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.