La Palina The Family Series

4-18-12 been in humidor since 1-12-12

La Palina The Family Series Babe (5.25 x 50)

Wrapper: Costa Rica

Binder: Costa Rica

Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan

Blender: Bill Paley, Avelino Lara

 

 

 

Until recently, I had never heard of this brand. I was following one of the La Palina reps on twitter simply because I was following him as a rep for LFD previously. My interest  in this cigar has been growing for two months so I tried to hunt one down. There are no cigar shops in NE Ohio that have them. Recently I was digging through my humidors organizing them yet again when I found one that spindrift had sent me four months ago and I had since forgotten about. It seems that a review is in order.

 

If the name “Avelino Lara” sounds familiar it is because he is a legend. He was the personal roller of “Uncle” Fidel’s cigars. He created the Cohiba brand. In 1996 he retired from the Cuban cigar business, partially due to his dislike of the Cuban Government interfering with and regulating the cigar business in Cuba. He moved to Nassau (Bahamas) where he eventually founded Graycliff Cigars.

 

So how did he end up with his hand in the La Palina Brand?

 

Bill Paley’s Grandfather was the owner of the original La Palina brand. After he retired, the parent company (Congress Cigar) dissolved and the brand disappeared. His son (Bill’s father) went in a new direction and founded CBS (radio at the time). La Palina was gone.

 

When Bill decided to recreate the brand he needed a blender. Enter: Avelino Lara. Bill and Avelino worked together to create a cigar that would do the old family brand justice. Lara died in 2009 and passed the cigar tradition down to his son Abel. La Palina cigars are currently made in the Bahamas in the Graycliff factory under the supervision Abel Lara.

 

This particular cigar is from The Family Series. In this series every vitola is named after a family member. Babe is Bills mother Barbara. Yes, thats right. Bills father Created CBS and his mother was Barbara “Babe” Cushing Paley, the fashion icon that was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall Of Fame in 1958.

 

This cigar may not make it into the Best Dressed Hall Of Fame, but it sure looks pretty to me (terrible segue, I know). The Costa Rica wrapper is a brown with ever-so-slightly darker splotches spread evenly throughout. It looks like the leaf has depth and has been fermented significantly. The band is a simple gold and cream with a black and white photo in the center. This just looks like a cigar should look. Pure. Simple. Elegant.

 

The cigar has a solid feel to it. It has a light hay smell to it while unlit. The lick on the cap has a slightly bittersweet note to it. It is very faint and is almost flavorless otherwise. The closest thing I can think of is “earth” but honestly, it is so light that I would classify that tasting note as a stab in the dark. A clip with my Xi2 and a near perfect draw full of earthy vegetable flavors is discovered.

 

A soft flame provided by my Xikar EX lighter starts us on this journey.

The first few puffs have a soft earthy musk to them. Through the nose is more of earthiness but slightly sweeter that turns more to a white pepper when larger volumes are pushed through. The finish is again soft but long; ending with a white pepper note. These are some impressive first few puffs.

 

As the cigar opens up a few sweeter nutty notes come out in the initial flavor. The “middle flavor” has hints of the woody-spice that is common in Nicaraguan tobacco. This is not the focus. I hesitate to point out a focus. There is quite a bit going on here. Through the nose there is still the earthy musk and a slight spice. This all fades to a soft spice on the finish.

 

The middle third has settled in with more of the earthy musk but sweeter. Through the nose there is a good white pepper and the musk has faded there. The nutty flavor has shifted more to the finish. That finish still has that soft spice that caps everything so well. The way the flavors work with each other is quite amazing. The balance is spot on even as the spice increases as the cigar journey moves down the road.

 

The burn by the mid point is not perfection. However it has not caused any major issues. Only one corrective light is needed and I have to admit it has more to do with my being overly worried about the burn. Most would have let it slide and it probably would have corrected itself like the other very minor flaws in the burn so far. The ash holds on tenaciously. Very enjoyable to watch.

 

The final third does something surprising to me: it gets sweeter. Usually the power of a cigar builds and thus the spice piles on. This is doing that to an extent, but the sweet notes are becoming more prevalent in the initial flavor as the journey continues. Each puff has a complexity that few cigars ever have over the length of the cigar. For the most part, a puff at the beginning of the final third will go as follows: sweet nutty with a creamy texture, then woody with light spice in the middle flavor. Through the nose is a musky wood that transitions to a soft spice on the finish.

Just fabulous.

 

As the cigar comes to an end the sweetness finally fades away leaving the soft spice as the main flavor with all other flavors fading to the background. If I had to sum this cigar up in one word it would be “nuanced.” The La Palina Babe is a prime example of a medium bodied cigar with full on flavor and complexity. I firmly believe that a fan of full bodied cigars with complexity could and would enjoy this immensely.

 

Burn to the burn

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes. (from what is effectively a robusto)

 

 

Burn: 9

Draw: 9.5

Taste: 9

Aftertaste: 10

Construction: 9

Balance: 10

Feel: 10

Overall: 9.5 of 10

 

…great, another cigar I NEED to hunt down.

 

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~ by kuzi16 on April 18, 2012.

2 Responses to “La Palina The Family Series”

  1. Sounds like a great cigar. I’m gonna have to look and see if I got one buried.

  2. Great review and I appreciated the backstory. I enjoyed reading this while having a Babe of my own. A few shops in Phoenix are carrying these and I had been wanting to try one out. Glad I did, great flavors though I seem to have a plug that I am fighting in this one.

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