At the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, La Palina Cigars introduced the La Palina Nicaragua line. As the name indicates, it is a line being produced in Nicaragua. When Bill Paley first resurrected the La Palina brand back in 2010, he went to the Graycliff factory in the Bahamas to produce his first line, the La Palina Family Series. As his portfolio grew, Paley started contracting with many leading factories in the cigar industry and La Palina lines would come out of Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. By 2015, the one major cigar producing country that La Palina was not in was Nicaragua. It appeared that would change La Palina was negotiationg with Hirochi Robaina and the La Corona factory, however that partnership would never come to be. By 2016, AJ Fernandez’s Tabacalera Fernandez would become the Nicaraguan factory to produce a La Palina line. The result was two blends: the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro and La Palina’s first Connecticut Shade cigar, the La Palina Nicaragua Connecticut. Today we take a look at the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro in the Toro size.
The choice of Tabacalera Fernandez was not a total surprise. While certainly AJ Fernandez was handling production for many leading brands, there was another connection. Late in 2015, Paley brought in Clay Roberts to be his CEO and co-President. Roberts is best known for spending many years heading up marketing at AJ Fernandez Cigars. Roberts had ties to the factory and it made a lot of sense.
There is one thing that is different about the La Palina Nicaragua line. This line, along with another 2016 release, the La Palina El Año 1896 (made out of PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic), would introduce an alternate logo. This logo would feature the initials “LP” on it. Prior to the La Palina Nicaragua, with the exception of the La Palina Classic, the line would feature the black and white image of Paley’s grandmother Goldie Paley.
Without further alet’set’s break down the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
In addition to being produced in Nicaragua, the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro is a very Nicaraguan-centric blend. It features Nicaraguan tobaccos for the binder and filler. As the name indicates, the cigar features an Oscuro (darker) wrapper from Ecuador.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Oscuro
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Fernandez)
The La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro is available in three sizes. The cigars are presented in 20-count boxes. In addition, the Oscuro’s sister-line, the La Palina Nicaragua Connecticut , comes in the same sizes:
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 50
Gordo: 6 x 58
The Ecuadorian wrapper of the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro isn’t the darkest oscuro wrapper. Even the La Palina Black has a darker wrapper. In this case the Oscuro wrapper on the La Palina Nicaragua had almost a milk chocolate look to it. This was a wrapper that had a slight amount of oil on the surface. It was a slightly bumpy wrapper with some visible veins. This was also a dark enough wrapper to hide the wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro. The primary band features the alternate La Palina “LP” logo in large gold font with black trim. The logo sits on a pale yellow background with dull gold pinstripes. There is a pale yellow ribbon design with gold trim. On that ribbon is the text “NICARAGUA” in black font. There is metallic gold trim across the top and bottom The top center of the band features a partial metallic gold frame with the text “LA PALINA” etched on it. The lower part of the band also features a partial metallic gold frame with the text “EST 1896” in small black font. The remainder of the band has gold, pale yellow and black color scheme to it.
The secondary band is a simple white band with dull gold pinstripe near the top and bottom. The center of the band has the text “OSCURO” – also in dull gold font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro, I used a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered notes of chocolate, wood, and a slight cedar note. I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro and move into the smoking experience.
The La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro delivered a mix of chocolate, wood, white pepper, and dried fruit. Early on the chocolate notes move into the forefront. The dried fruit became a close secondary note with the wood and white pepper settling in the background. Early on, there were some notes of black pepper on the retro-hale.
During the first third, the dried fruit occasionally made its way to the forefront. Unlike other cigars where I get a dried fruit note, this one was dialed back on the sweetness. Later in the first third, the wood notes transitioned to a cedar note and the white pepper notes dissipated. The cedar notes also now mixed in with the pepper on the retro-hale.
By the start of the second third of the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro, the dried fruit notes moved into the forefront. During this phase, the chocolate notes diminished and the cedar notes increased. Toward the midway point, the pepper notes returned on the tongue, but this time had more of a black pepper varietal. It was also at this point where the dried fruit notes diminished.
When the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro entered the final third, the cedar notes took over as the primary note. There still were notes of dried fruit, chocolate and pepper in the background. I noticed a little bit of harshness toward the end, but by this point, it was time to put the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro down. At the close of the cigar, the resulting nub was cool in temperature, but slightly soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
The burn of the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro performed quite well. This was a cigar that had no trouble maintaining a straight burn path. The actual burn line remained relatively straight – requiring what I would consider to be a normal amount of touch-ups This was a cigar that had a firm ash with a salt and pepper complexion to it. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw also performed quite well. This was a draw that balanced out the openness and resistance very nicely. In the end, the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro was not a difficult cigar to derive flavors from.
Strength and Body
The La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro started out medium strength and medium to full-bodied. As the cigar experience progressed, there was a gradual increase in intensity of both attributes. By the close of the cigar experience, while the intensity level increased, I still found the Oscuro Toro to be medium strength and medium to full-bodied.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had the edge from start to finish.
When Bill Paley brought La Palina back in 2010, the company was very much grounded in boutique roots – most notably with the Family Series and Goldie releases. Along the way, the company has focused a lot on its core lines. Looking at La Palina in 2018, this is a company that clearly is focused on regular production and expanding its footprint. When it comes to the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro, I would put it into the latter category. That being said, the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro is still a solid release by La Palina.
Flavor-wise, this is definitely a cigar that is better in the first half than the second half. At the same time, I wouldn’t say the La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Toro is going to bring a radically different flavor profile when up against comparable cigars. This is a cigar I’d recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast. It’s also a cigar that I wouldn’t discourage a novice from trying. As for myself, it’s one I would smoke again and pick up some multiples for the humidor.
Key Flavors: Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Cedar, Classic Wood, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Body: Medium to Full
Value: Buy Multiples
News: La Palina Nicaragua Introduced at 2016 IPCPR Trade Show
Source: La Palina
Brand Reference: La Palina
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop