Disclaimer: La Palina is an advertiser on acigarsmoker.com. I was invited to their launch event with 100 other people. I was given these cigars free of charge. I ate, drank and was merry thanks to the generosity of La Palina. None of the above has effected this review because when it comes down to it, I can be an evil bastard.
Samuel Paley emigrated from the Ukraine in the late 1800s. Arriving in Chicago he worked as a lector in a cigar factory. During his personal time he studied cigars and his interest in the industry grew. In 1896 he opened his own cigar shop and an adjacent factory called the Congress Cigar Company. The first cigar he ever produced was named for his wife Goldie Drell Paley. In 1910 the company moved to Philadelphia and Sam’s son joined as Vice President of Advertising.
Enamored with radio, William sponsored a radio show in Philadelphia called “The La Palina Hour“. The advertising increased the sales and this led to William purchasing 5 radio stations which was the inception of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and was known as “The Tiffany Network“. In 1926 the Congress Cigar Company was liquidated after Sam retired.
Today, the company has returned thanks to Bill Paley. The cigar originally started as a signature luxury cigar for “The Lightbourne House” which is the family retreat in the Bahamas. His quest for a special cigar led him to Avalino Lara who created the famous Cohiba brand for Fidel Castro. Avelino Lara also headed up Graycliff in Nassau before he passed away in Ocotober of 2009. Before his death Bill Paley worked with Lara to create this cigar and today I offer you up a review.
Cigar: La Palaina 1896
Size: 4.75 x 50
Binder: Costa Rica
Filler: Honduras & Nicaraguan
Appearance and Construction: Everyone I know who has seen this cigar can’t get enough of the band. The classic looking band reminiscent of a Cameo is sheer beauty with colors of white, charcoal and gold. A secondary band denotes 1896. As far as the cigar goes the Ecuadorian wrapper has a nice amount of oils to it and is rolled exquisitely. The cap clips off easily and under close inspection this hefty cigar has no soft spots and a well packed foot. The wrapper does has an some veins to it and feels coarse under ones fingers.
Flavor & Notes: The draw of the cigar before lighting up serves up a slightlbitter sweetness that is similar to bittersweet chocolate. The foot of the cigar offers some spicy tobacco notes. After toasting the foot of my cigar I settled in to enjoy the experience of my first cigar of the day. Once lit the cigar offers up some dry notes of leather so be sure to have a beverage handy. There is also a sweetness present that one minute reminds of me caramel and the next minute cocoa. As we continue down the first third the occasional cherry note is present as well but it comes and goes. The second third of the La Palina 1896 has some continued leather, cinnamon and a faint espresso on the finish. The final third of the smoke offers up some notes of espresso, leather, and an occasional sweetness that comes and goes.
Smoking Characteristics: Sadly some of my samples had some burn issues that needed to be touched up. However I am willing to write this off due to the fact that they were laid out on display on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel. I noticed each day that I stored them in my humidor, the cigar I smoked that day burned better then the day before. The cigar had a perfect draw, and a firm dark ash that held on well. The cigar produced massive amounts of smoke and its aroma was delightful.
Conclusion: If this cigar was less expensive I would of rated it at least one point higher if not two. The MSRP is a little hard to swallow but I guess being made by Greycliff the price point is to be expected. I believe that La Palina is going after the luxury market with this cigar but with a looming cigar tax increase in New York the retail for me would be $25.75 and that is a little hard to swallow considering how many other cigars are on the market for less that fulfill my cigar needs. With that said and done I will smoke these again, but will have to save them for a special day which works out well since these cigars should get even better with some age on them.
Price: $19.00 MSRP