La Palina Black Label Robusto

At the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, La Palina Cigars launched its seventh line, the La Palina Black Label.  This line marks the second project done between Bill Paley’s La Palina Cigars and Abe Flores PDR Cigars factory.  This follows up the PDR-made La Palina Classic, had been launched at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show.  The following year at the 2013 IPCPR show, Paley told us that he had another project in the works with PDR Cigars – which would turn out to be the La Palina Black Label.  While La Palina Classic was intended to be a value-priced La Palina offering, the Black Label is intended to be a more premium offering.  With the La Palina Black Label now released, I recently had an opportunity to smoke this cigar in the Robusto format.  Since its launch in 2010, La Palina has delivered one of the most impressive cigar portfolios in the industry.  Once again, La Palina delivers another outstanding cigar.

The La Palina Black Label is intended to be a cigar on the fuller side.  Back at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, Paley told us he was very pleased with working on the La Palina Classic with PDR Cigars.  In terms of working with Flores, Paley described him “as a real pro” and that “he loves working with Pinar Del Rio“.

Without further ado, let’s break down the La Palina Black Label and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

The La Palina Blac Label features tobaccos from three countries.  Like the La Palina Classic, the wrapper comes from Brazil, but in the case of the Black Label it features a darker wrapper known as Brazilian Bahiano.

Wrapper: Brazilian Bahiano
Binder: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (PDR Cigars Factory)

Vitolas Available

The La Palina Black Label is currently available in four sizes

Robusto: 5 x 52
Petit Lancero: 6 x 40
Toro: 6 x 50
Gordo: 6 x 60

Closed box of the La Palina Black Label


La Palina Black Label Petit Lancero (Open Box)


The Brazilian Bahiano wrapper on the La Palina Black Label Robusto is a cross between a coffee bean brown and a dark cinnamon color.  Upon closer examination, there is some darker marbling on the wrapper.   There is a small amount of oil on the surface.  The darker color of the wrapper hides the wrapper seams nicely and the cigar was almost void of any significantly visible veins.  While the wrapper is not bumpy, there is a slight rougher feel to the texture.

There are two bands on the La Palina Black Label. The primary band is a variation of the band found on several othe La Palina line.. It contains the black and white image of Goldie Paley (wife of original company founder Samuel Paley) is front and center on the band. The image is adorned with gold. Over the image is the text “LA PALINA” in a thin white font on a gold background. Below the image is the text “EST 1896” in a smaller white font that is also on a gold background. There is black trim on the top and bottom of the band.  To the left and right of the Goldie Paley portrait are three fleur-de-lis designs sitting on a black background.

The secondary band sits below the primary band.  It is black in color with gold trim.  On the black background is the text “BLACK LABEL” in large gold font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

As I normally do, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.  After clipping the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw experience.  The cold draw provided a mix of cocoa and an orange-flavored citrus spice. Overall it wasn’t the most complex pre-light draw, but it was a flavorful one.  Overall I was quite pleased with the pre-light of the La Palina Black Label Robusto.  At this point I was ready to light up the cigar and see what the smoking phase would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the La Palina Black Label Robusto provided a mix of pepper, cedar sweet-spice, cocoa, and citrus.  The pepper seemed to be a mix of black and white pepper spice. In the early stages there was no dominant flavor.  I also picked up some the cocoa and cedar notes on the retro-hale.  On this particular cigar, I found the retro-hale added some additional fullness to the flavors on this cigar.

In the first third, I found the cedar and cocoa notes to be primary.  Both notes alternated in intensity.  The citrus and pepper notes became secondary.  The citrus notes were not acidic and added some additional sweetness to the cigar.

By the midway point of the La Palina Black Label, the cedar notes took over as the primary flavor. The cocoa notes joined the pepper and citrus in the background. As the Black Label moved into the last third, the pepper notes rapidly increased and joined the cedar notes in the forefront. There was definitely more in the way of spice on the last third with the cedar and pepper firmly in control. The end of the cigar had spice, but no harshness. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

From a burn perspective, the burn was relatively straight.  I did find some jaggedness on the burn line – and it did require several cosmetic touch-ups (more than I prefer)  The resulting ash had a silvery color.  I did find this ash flowered several times.  For the most part, while it wasn’t the firmest ash, it did come off the cigar in nice clean chunks.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the La Palina Black Label Robusto

The draw performed quite well.  This was a low maintenance draw to derive flavors from – it was not too tight, nor too loose.  This made the Black Label a very easy cigar to smoke.

Strength and Body

While I had heard this was a fuller release, I still had it in my that was going to be a powerful smoke.  I can’t quite put the Black Label into that category, however there is enough strength to keep those who enjoy some firepower in a cigar satisfied.  Overall I assessed the Black Label as being a medium to full strength cigar.  As for the flavors, once you factor in the retro-hale, there is enough depth in the flavors for me to consider this a full-bodied cigar.  In terms of strength versus body, I gave the edge to the body with the Black Label.

Final Thoughts

Overall the La Palina Black Label delivered an excellent cigar experience from a flavor standpoint. I also thought that the medium to full strength and full-bodied notes worked extremely well with the flavor profile of this cigar. While this isn’t going to throw a wide range of flavors, there are enough flavors to satisfy me. The flavor transitions were also was enough to keep me happy. I will also say, the flavor profile is very different from any other La Palina I have had. This is probably a cigar I’d recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for a newbie, this might be a good cigar to graduate to something with a little more strength that is full-bodied. As for myself, this is a cigar I would reach for again. It’s definitely worth a box split.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Full
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Score: 90


News: La Palina Black Label
Price: ~$10.00
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
Stogie Geeks Episode: n/a
Stogie Feed: La Palina Black Label (IPCPR 2014)