Robusto, 5 x 52
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Brazilian Habano
|Cigar age||0 yr. 2.1 mo.|
BACKGROUND: In the last 6-months, I have featured La Palina cigars on three other occasions. In April, I featured the El Diario Torpedo, in July I had the Goldie, a Laguito No. 2 and in August it was the Family Series Babe, Robusto. This week I’ll be talking about a new and noteworthy blend that is intended by the company to become a staple in your humidor.
The La Palina Classic was one of two new blends launched in the summer of 2012 by Bill Paley, the owner of La Palina Cigars. The Classic is La Palina's first cigar to be made in the Dominican Republic and it is also the first value-priced La Palina offering. With this new blend, La Palina hopes to entice a new generation of cigar smokers who are looking for high quality at a lower price than most boutique offerings.
To make the La Palina Classic, Paley turned to Abe Flores of PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic. Flores opened a new expanded factory operation in the Dominican Republic and besides making his own brand of cigars, he has been producing blends for the likes of Gurkha and Primer Mundo cigars.
To create the Classic, Paley and Flores started with a Dominican and Nicaraguan filler blend. This is encased in an Ecuadorian binder and then topped off with a light and silky Brazilian-grown Habano seed wrapper.
This La Palina Classic is the 5-inch by 52 ring gauge Robusto.
TASTING NOTES: I usually start a review with the flavors of a cigar, but this particular smoke has made me stray from that formula… As I started to smoke my first sample, I was having difficulty with the draw and I couldn’t figure it out. I was puffing and it was hard, but the cigar was perfectly supple all the way through. There were no hard spots and there wasn’t a tightness of the tobacco inside the wrapper and binder. And yet, I couldn’t get the cigar to draw. I was literally thinking of skewering the cigar with a cigar tool, when I decided to dry purge the cigar (i.e., blow through the cigar to heat the coal). All at once, I felt and heard a snap, like the snap you hear when your first inflate a balloon and then, crack; the whole wrapper split like a watermelon being dropped from 2-feet above the ground. What was really strange was that I felt the whole shaft of the cigar expand before the wrapper split. Seriously, it was like blowing up a balloon. I have had many experiences when smoking cigars, but I have never had anything like that happen to me before. This appeared to be caused by an improperly bunched filler. Tobacco in the filler is folded longways so that there are channels that run the length of your cigar and facilitate the movement or channeling of smoke through the cigar. This cigar appeared to have tobacco folded sideways that stopped the air and smoke from proceeding through the cigar. So, when I blew air through the cigar, it expanded and split. Really, really strange.
Obviously, I pulled out my second sample right away. After a cut and light I was started again with sample number 2. This cigar was night and day from the first sample. The draw was smooth and effortless, the burn line was even and the ash was on the flaky side.
The flavors were more of what I expected from the La Palina Classic. There were bright, grassy notes and some nutty sweetness on the palate. The retrohale was spicy with white pepper and fresh cut alfalfa.
The Classic is medium in strength and medium-full in body and flavor. There is a nice, medium-length finish on the palate that leaves a combination of light hops, grass and a hint of natural tobacco sweetness.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The La Palina Classic Robusto is without a doubt a very nice smoke. This one will be approachable to almost any palate and the flavors are complex and lively on the palate. And, don’t be afraid to retrohale this stick because it just keeps getting smoother and sweeter as the smoke progresses. This is an easy cigar to recommend and, though I did have a bad burn issue that made one sample unsmokeable, I have had perfectly constructed sticks on each of the 3 other cigars I’ve smoked thus far. So, that burn issue, I believe, was an anomaly and not indicative of the construction of the line as a whole. Nevertheless, 1 problem out of 4 smoked represents a 25% fail rate and I will mark this cigar down on construction until I get more samples under my belt.
You can pick these up for around $7.50 per stick, which isn’t cheap, but isn’t bad for a quality stick. If you should ever have a burn issue with this, or any other stick, be sure to take the unsmoked portion back to your local tobacconist. If they are worth their salt, they will replace the cigar, no questions asked. And if they don’t, it’s time to look for a new place to shop for cigars.
These sticks have a resting place on a shelf in my Aristocrat M+ cabinet humidor. Since I only have 6 cigars to start with, I have placed them inside a cigar bag, which I've left unzipped so they have access to the humidor's microclimate. I have also left the original cellophane sleeves in place. The cigar bag is just for keeping the cigars together in their own batch while on the cabinet shelf.
This is the first of two podcast reviews of these relatively new cigars, which have been resting for 2.2 months in my humidor.
Cigar Info Page » for La Palina, Classic
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