Last year at the IPCPR show, La Palina introduced its seventh line of cigars: the Black Label. This is the second cigar that La Palina and PDR cigars have teamed up to create (the first being the La Palina Classic). With the Classic, La Palina wanted to create a budget-friendly smoke—one that could could be enjoyed at any time. With the Black Label, however, this is not the case. La Palina’s ambitions were simple enough—to create a bold, full-bodied, premium cigar. And with the Black Label being out over a year now, most will agree—they delivered.
The Black Label launched in four sizes: The Robusto (5×52), the Toro (6×50), the Gordo (6×60), and the Petit Lancero (6×40). And while the Lancero may be the most desirable size in the line, today I will be reviewing the Robusto.
La Palina Black Label Breakdown
- Wrapper: Brazilian Bahiano
- Binder: Dominican and Nicaraguan
- Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan
- Factory: PDR Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular release
- Vitola: 5″ × 52 Robusto
- Price: $10.00
When I first saw the Black Label in person, I thought I was looking at a $25 cigar. The two black and gold bands surrounding the cigar are quite exquisite—giving me a sense of royalty and importance, just by holding it—a kind of elegance not many cigars pull off these days. Taking a closer look at the cigar, it has a dark espresso, dry wrapper with a little bit of surrounding tooth. The triple cap looks nice, but seems to be a little loose, with the edges slightly off the wrapper itself. A few visible, weary-looking veins can be found, but overall a very tight roll. As I gently run my fingers over this gorgeous stick, I notice a very tight pack that also has some weight to it. I suspect this might impede with the draw quality.
The Black Label has a dry, bitter hay and tumble weed aroma; however, once I began toasting, a rich espresso and tobacco aroma quickly filled the air—one of the purest cigar bouquets. Once I took my first puff, I knew this wouldn’t be an ordinary cigar. Right off the bat, it nearly knocked my socks off. BAM! In-your-face, deep, bold, full-bodied flavors completely covered my palate. My senses tried to retreat, but there was no getting away from it. With every draw (and the draw turned out to be perfect, despite the hefty pack), rich pepper, spice, and cocoa knocked down the door of my mouth without asking. At this point I’m almost afraid to retro-hale, as these flavors are plenty strong enough—but I went for it…
Coincidently, the retro-hale actually calmed the smoke. I anticipated a bold pepper and burning spice kick, when in fact it left me with a sweet oak and sarsaparilla. This really melded nicely with the bold draw flavors, and the finish I was left with was one of the fullest I’ve smoked.
Rounding out the first third, the Black Label calms down a bit. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still a full-body smoke—it’s just not so ‘in your face’ about it. The flavors are relatively the same, although the pepper took a bit of a back seat, allowing the rich espresso a chance to drive. The spice is making a decent attack on the retro-hale however, but the oaky flavors are still holding up a fight. Now, with the Brazilian wrapper, I expected to get a little fruit flavors, such as cherry or something more acidic, but I couldn’t detect any. I found this to be nothing like the Brazilian I smoked last, the Davidoff Escurio. The strength of the cigar is also starting to show itself, giving me a decent buzz and definitely letting me know it’s there. I expect the strength to match up with the body by the nub.
Around the halfway point, I had to relight my cigar, although it was probably my fault (inconsistent puffs will put out any cigar). I also touched it up once before this, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem. The draw is still perfect, very loose, with just a touch of resistance. The flavors have transitioned a good amount by now. The pepper is almost completely gone on the draw flavors, replaced with anise, toasted nuts, and cocoa. The body has simmered down just a tad to a medium-full. These flavors maintained all the way to the nub, with the body ending at a solid medium-full, leaning on the full side. However, the strength of the cigar has picked up, and I would mark it a medium-strong. The body was able to outweigh the strength for the most part, but towards the end I felt the strength take over more than once. For any light-weights out there, you might want to be weary—this is not a mild cigar.
Would I smoke this again?
Yes, though only at night after a full meal. It’s not the strongest cigar in terms of strength, but definitely packs a punch that will send the lightweights after some sugar. Pair with a dark coffee or bourbon.
- Full flavors
- Long burn time
- Great draw
- Strength takes over at times
- Burn wavers a bit