La Palina, while being a fairly new-to-the-scene cigar brand, actually has a history that goes back to the late 1800s, when the original company founder, Sam Paley, left the Ukraine to find himself working in a Chicago cigar factory as a lector (the person who would read aloud to the people working in the rolling floor—a common practice back in the day). Enamored with the industry, his hard work and study paid off, as he was promoted to roller, then blender. Finally, in 1896, Sam opened a cigar shop and factory called Congress Cigar Company and began to sell his first cigar, La Palina, named for his wife, Goldie Drell Paley.

Interestingly, Sam’s son, William, would join Congress Cigar as the head of advertising, initiating the La Palina Radio Hour in Philadelphia. Sam later purchased radio stations of his own, leading to the eventual creation of the Columbia Broadcasting System (you know, CBS…). Picture this—that TV network you used to watch David Letterman on? Yeah, that network was essentially created by a cigar company. Pretty neat, right? Thirty years after creating La Palina, Sam retired, and so did the family business, until it was resurrected by Bill Paley (Sam’s grandson) in 2010.

From 2010 to present, La Palina Cigars has brought quite a few highly regarded cigars to market, most notable being the La Palina Goldie—which was/is famous for being rolled entirely by a single person and using rare tobaccos (medio tiempo) in the cigar’s blend.

La Palina Bronze Label Robusto Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Honduras (Habano-Seed)
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras | Nicaragua
  • Factory: El Paraiso (Honduras)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5½″ × 50 (Robusto)
  • Price: $8.99 (MSRP)

The Bronze Label was originally release in March 2017 as the company’s second TAA release (the first being the “Bill’s Blend,” made at the same El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami as the Goldie and Mr. Sam blends). This particular Bronze Label cigar is a collaboration with Rocky Patel, being rolled at the Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory (best known for producing Rocky Patel’s Honduran-made cigars) in Danlí. After several reorders and inquiries from shops (TAA and non-TAA alike), it was decided to make the La Palina Bronze Label a full-scale release (extending the lineup to include a total of three sizes); which was introduced in February 2018.

Appearance

This is another cigar that uses generous dimensions for it’s sizing, with this robusto being a bit longer than normal and seeming more like a toro. The actual toro in this line is a hefty 6½” x 52—also being larger than standard. The robusto’s appearance is nearly flawless, with the exception of a huge notch missing from the double cap, appearing to have been patched haphazardly. Other than that, the wrapper is stunning. There are a couple of light veins here and there, but otherwise this is an unblemished, beautiful, perfectly round cylinder—the color of properly roasted coffee (which is NOT that dark brown, oily, grody stuff). There’s some slight give when the cigar is squeezed, indicating a great bunch.

Click images below for full resolution

A note about the band: in my opinion, the La Palina band, with the image of Goldie, is one of the best in the business. There is this super-cool printing trick where the photo of Goldie acts like a watermark. The paper is a special translucent sort, so when it’s held up to the the light, you can see through it, adding an understated and modern twist to an otherwise vintage appearance. Unfortunately, this particular bronze edition features plain old, regular paper, thus rendering the band to the realm of ordinary. The bronze color works well, though, and the secondary band (similar to the Red & Black Label) seems as equally superfluous as they ever have… a bronze label with a second bronze label that features printing that says “Bronze Label;” it looks nice, though. This, being the regular release, does not feature the third band on the foot that the TAA limited release had.

Smoking Experience

Hmm… the wrapper smells like sweaty dog’s ears. The foot offers an intense bouquet of creamy confectioner’s sugar-sweet tobacco pudding (how’s that for a new candle scent?). Using a straight cut, the cold draw resistance is perfect, but the flavor is particularly bizarre and off-putting: dirty automotive grease and orange. I’m afraid of what awaits.

Not willing to live a life where I’m to afraid to try anything new, I light up and find that, thankfully, the awful, dirty grease flavor is in no way present, not even a ghost of it. Instead, I’m enjoying faint hints of sweet orange water, some light and creamy coffee, fresh herbaceous garden mint, hay, and a pleasant retrohale (with just the perfect amount of tingling pepper). This is developing quickly and, within a half-inch, I find an increase in the sweetness that is akin to stevia leaf. There’s some mineral-laden earth with the slightest hint saltiness. An inch into the cigar, the earlier nasal tingle becomes a little more pronounced, with a sweet cedar note and a slight hint of sweet mandarin oranges. I’ve got a two-inch stack of nickels on the end of the cigar, with an overall flawless construction. The first third concludes with the cigar edging towards medium strength, with full flavor just over the horizon. Smoke production is just a touch thin, but the creamy and spicy flavors bring it into a medium-plus body all the same.



La Palina Bronze Label Robusto cigar smoking

A sweet cashew note (this was the biggest carryover from sample to sample, and the most consistent across all samples) is showcased in the beginning of the second third. There is honey and citrus sweetness, with nicely expressed and balanced cedar (not sharp or pungent), creaminess, and spice. As with the first third, this section produces another huge stack of nickels in the ash department. The construction is, again, perfect. Strength is still medium, with a medium body and a full flavor as another 29 minutes have elapsed to end the second third.

Into the final third, there’s something savory, though not quite meaty, that brings the blend into more full-bodied territory. It’s the sweetest Korean BBQ onions you’ve ever had, grilled to the perfect point of caramelized sugar sweetness—so perfectly cooked that they are like butter. Then, new to the scene is a salty peanut butter cup essence. Pepper increases on the tongue and there is a smokey mesquite flavor as well. Construction maintains, with nary a waver of burn line throughout the entirety of this cigar. A final blast of the flavor trumpet is all oranges, cloves, and peppercorn. It ends very similar to the way it began, but zestier and more intense. I squeezed 37 minutes of enjoyment out of the final third, finishing at medium-plus strength and body, and full in flavor.

La Palina Bronze Label Robusto ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Well, I will be smoking a lot more of these. After my first go round, I decided this was the best cigar ever created and bought a boatload. Did you ever have a box of cigars that you really liked, but then you find a dud in the box? I had kind of the opposite occurrence here. The first cigar was sort of an “anti-dud,” while the rest have been more pedestrian. Sadly, I discovered that these are more of a good knock-around cigar—not bad in any way and worth the price, but not really special. My initial experience provided more of a retroactively disappointing contrast to what seems to be the rule. A good cigar in its own right, but I yearn for that original experience with every one I light up. I hope I find a couple more anti-duds.

Additional Info:

  • I generally tend to enjoy LP releases, and I was quite optimistic going into this review.
  • Every marketing photo I’ve seen of these cigars feature a triple cap, but this is certainly a double. Perhaps that’s a change that came about after the transition from TAA limited release to the full-scale regular production release.
  • This is a tale of two cigars. You will read many reviews where the number of cigars smoked for review is listed (three, in this case), and this cigar tells a perfect story of why that is important. In this case, the first cigar I smoked was just so knock-out amazing, I submitted my findings to the Dojo editors with an absolutely glowing review that would actually have been the highest rated cigar for the Dojo, ever… When they rejected the review (with good cause), I couldn’t understand why. I wanted everyone to know how great this cigar was, and I rushed my review without trying additional cigars; which is an integral part of constructively, subjectively breaking down the smoking experience. But the guys didn’t have the same experience that I enjoyed, and it was suggested that I try again. Sadly, after smoking a couple more of these, I’ve had a different experience. While parts of my initial experience were still present, they stand in contrast to the overall experience that just didn’t come together the same way.

Profile
  • Flavor: Full
  • Strength: Medium-plus
  • Body: Medium-plus
Core Flavors
  • Sweet orange
  • Creamy cedar
  • Sweet nuts
  • Mineral / salty earth
  • Grilled smokey sweet savory pepper
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Old fashioned with a splash of Cointreau, Orange mocha, Session IPA
  • Purchase Recommendation: Box split

La Palina Bronze Label Robusto cigar nubbed

La Palina Bronze Label Robusto
Let’s do a quick history lesson. Back to when I started smoking cigars, there were a LOT more Honduran cigars dominating the market. Until 1990, there was an embargo against the country of Nicaragua, similar to Cuba. Also, the Sandinista government of the time had essentially ended growth of tobacco for cigars, instead focusing on tobacco growth for more lucrative cigarette tobacco. Even after the embargo ended, it took some time for Nicaragua’s cigar industry to get rolling again (sorry for the pun). During the late '80s and early '90s, there were practically no Nicaraguan cigars in the United States, and Honduran cigars were a pretty big deal back then. This cigar is a good reminder of what Honduras can offer the modern cigar smoker. As an added bonus, lookout for the odd-ball anomaly within this lineup where, every once in a while, you may be treated to a truly fantastic experience. This, unfortunately, is an outlier to the average La Palina Bronze Label experience.
Appearance90%
Burn/Construction96%
Draw87%
Flavor85%
Complexity87%
Price/Value85%
Pros
  • Delightful flavors
  • Flawless construction
  • Lots of potential
Cons
  • Cold-draw weirdness
  • Usually misses its lofty expectations (inconsistent)
88%Bronze Medal

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