The La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive is the third TAA Exclusive cigar to be a produced by Bill Paley’s La Palina Cigars. The cigar was included as a part of the 2018 TAA Exclusive Series which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the TAA. For La Palina, 2018 was also the third consecutive year the company produced a cigar for the series. The past two years have seen La Palina move its TAA Exclusive releases into regular production. Earlier this year, the La Palina Blue Label followed suit and was moved into regular production with two additional sizes added. Today we take a look at the size that was initially released for the TAA, the La Palina Blue Label TAA Exclusive Toro TAA Exclusive.
The TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA has defined itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
Since 2018 was the 50th anniversary of the Tobacconist Association of America, there were a large number of releases as part of the 2018 TAA Exclusive Series:
- CAO Estelí by General Cigar Company
- Crowned Heads The Angel’s Anvil 2018
- EIROA First 20 Years Diadema by C.L.E. Cigar Company
- My Father Flor de Antillas Lancero
- Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente TAA Exclusive
- Fuente Fuente OpusX ForbiddenX
- Padrón Black No. 89 Maduro
- Padrón Black No. 89 Natural
- E.P. Carrillo TAA Exclusive
- La Palina Blue Label TAA Exclusive
- Gurkha Heritage Rosado Toro
- La Flor Dominicana TAA Golden “Oro” Anniversary
- Montecristo Artisan Series Batch 1 by Altadis USA
- Tatuaje TAA 50th
The following have been the La Palina TAA Exclusive Series offerings:
- 2016: La Palina Bill’s Blend
- 2017: La Palina Bronze Label
- 2018: La Palina Blue Label
- 2019: La Palina Silver Label (Announced for 2019)
The La Palina Blue Label is also the fourth installment in La Palina’s “Color” (unofficial name) series. The first two were the La Palina Black Label and La Palina Red Label. Just before the 2016 Deeming Regulations went into effect, Bronze Label, Blue Label and other numerous colors (Silver Label, Green Label, and Purple Label) were reported to be Stealth Releases.
Without further ado, let’s break down the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The La Palina Blue Label consists of a Habano wrapper over a Honduran binder and a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar is produced at the Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory. This is a factory where La Palina has been doing production for several of its lines including La Palina Bronze Label, the soon to be released La Palina Silver Label, and the La Palina El Año 1896.
The past couple of years has seen La Palina move several of its lines to the Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory.
Wrapper: Honduran Habano
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: El Paraiso
Following the release of the Toro for the TAA, the La Palina Blue Label is now regular production with the Robusto and Gordo sizes added. Each of the three sizes is presented in 20-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 50
Toro: 6 1/2 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 60
The Honduran wrapper of the La Palina Blue Label TAA Exclusive had a medium to dark color with some Colorado mixed in. There was a slight amount of oil on the wrapper. While there were some thin visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams, this was a relatively smooth wrapper.
There are three bands on the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive. The primary band is a variation of the classic La Palina band found on several other La Palina lines. The band features the black and white image of Goldie Paley on the front-center on the band. The image is surrounded by blue-colored frame. The upper part of the band has 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 are also three medallions just below the image. There is a thick blue stripe to the left and right of the band with two gold colored pinstripes sitting on the upper and lower portions of it. On the blue stripe are a stream of gold colored fleur-de-lis images.
There is a secondary band resting just below the primary band. It is blue in color with the text “BLUE LABEL” in gold font resting on it. The band is finished with a gold pinstripe across the top and bottom.
Finally, there is a footer band on the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive. While the two upper bands have been carried over with the regular production offering of the La Palina Blue label, the footer band is unique to the TAA release. The upper portion of the band has a blue stripe with gold trim. Sitting on the blue stripe is a black and white TAA logo. The lower portion is black with gold trim with the text “TAA Exclusive” in white font.
A straight cut was used to clip the cap and commence the smoking experience of the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive. After the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw produced notes of earth and cedar along with subtle notes of citrus and chocolate. Overall, this was a very good pre-light draw. Then it was time to remove the footer band of the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive, toast the foot, and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive started out with a mix of black pepper, cedar, natural tobacco, citrus, and earth. Early on the natural tobacco and earth notes moved into the forefront. The cedar and pepper notes settled in the background. As for the citrus, there were times that during the first third it made its way into the forefront.
Throughout the first third and into the second third, there was an increase in intensity in the natural tobacco as it became the sole primary note. By this time, the cedar and citrus settled into the background with the earth and pepper notes. While the pepper notes remained in the background, they started to increase in intensity.
As the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive moved through the second third, the natural tobacco notes remained primary, however, there was more of a bitter component. The black pepper was the most prominent of the secondary notes with the citrus, cedar, and earth more distant.
The last third didn’t see much in the way of changes. The bitterness and spice certainly didn’t wow me, I wouldn’t translate this to harshness either. This profile continued until the end of the cigar experience of the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive. The cigar finished up with a cool nub that was slightly soft to the touch.
Construction-wise, the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive was excellent and this reflected on the scores of the burn and draw. For the most part, the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive maintained a straight burn path and had a straight burn line requiring minimal touch-ups along the way. The resulting nub was firm with a salt and pepper color scheme. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive also performed well. There was a touch of resistance on it – which is something that I consider to be ideal. This was a cigar that also produced a nice amount of smoke production.
Strength and Body
The La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive delivered a medium smoking experience in terms of strength and body. While there was a slight increase in the intensity of both attributes, in the end, the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive still remained medium for strength and body. In terms of strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other very nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
My summation of the experience with the La Palina Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive has been much like many of the other TAA releases I have smoked. It’s an average cigar, but it’s not one that I feel lives up to the TAA’s mantra of being a collection of the “best of the best”. This cigar certainly has excellent construction, but that’s not enough to call a cigar excellent. Flavorwise, the Blue Label Toro TAA Exclusive started out decent enough, however, some of the bitterness and spice present during the second half did throw the balance of this cigar off. While you can now get this cigar in regular production, I would recommend trying a sample first to see if the cigar is satisfying.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Citrus, Earth, pepper
Complexity: Medium Minus
Value: Try a Sample
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop