The La Palina Number Series cigars (01 & 02) were introduced at the 2017 IPCPR show. The notable factors here being that both cigars utilize Costa Rican tobacco. In the case of the 01, it’s Sumatra for the wrapper and Costa Rica for binder; while the 02 is the inverse, with a Costa Rican wrapper and a Honduran binder.
At the time of the series’ introduction, La Palina owner Bill Paley was quoted by Cigar Aficionado, saying:
LP01 Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Costa Rica
- Filler: Nicaragua | Honduras
- Factory: El Paraíso (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5½″ × 50 (Robusto)
- Price: $9.50 (MSRP)
What can you say about the cigar’s band that hasn’t already been said about Detroit? I suppose someone could say they actually like it (nobody’s said that yet), but I ain’t the one.
The wrapper is very evenly colored—the balance tipping slightly towards the brown side of Colorado (red/brown). There is a slight rainbow hue of oil when closely examined in daylight. The wrapper is smooth and dry, feeling very brittle, with a couple of long, yet thin veins and a big bump under the sloppy double cap. The cigar is properly filled, with no hard or soft spots. This cigar’s size is what I call a “Robustoro,” as it’s long enough that I think of it more as short toro than a long robusto—trending more towards length than girth (TWSS).
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Pre-light aroma from the foot consists of old, slightly moldy carpet, machine shop, sweet tobacco, and a good amount of spicy pepper. There is an exceptionally creamy, malty cold draw, with a hint of cinnamon. The draw resistance is spot-on after using a punch cut (still the very best way to cut a cigar, in my opinion). There’s a very unique flavor I’m picking up here, not sure exactly how to describe it, but I’ll give it a shot: it’s dusty, yet sweet, almost meaty, with a root-vegetable sweetness—like turnips or carrots—with a chalky, protein-powder element. Where is the creaminess from the cold draw? Nowhere to be found, at least thus far. There is a decent amount of pepper on the retrohale and a cedar zing on the front of the tongue. The most prominent feature is that aforementioned chalky sweetness. The ash easily disengages at intervals of only one-third of an inch, showing a mild-to-medium strength and a solid medium body.
Kicking off the cigar’s second third, I am on the lookout for transitions, or anything new, for that matter. Unfortunately, the only real thing that’s new here is a nicotine flavor creeping in on the back of the tongue. There’s a white peppercorn freshness, plenty of cedar, a very mild and buttery creaminess (there it is), and still plenty of chalky, root-like vegetable sweetness. The burn line becomes a little jagged, requiring a quick touchup before the halfway point.
The color of the cigar’s band reminds me of banana candy, which is the worst flavor of candy (excepting Jelly Belly’s gross-out flavors). Banana candy would actually be a welcome addition to the flavor of this cigar… it’s so boring (I’ve gotta call ’em how I
see taste ’em!).
Nearing the halfway point, there’s a very welcome addition of some fruit flavor that jazzes the profile up, defining the sweetness with a jam-like concoction of ripe berries and caramelized sugars. The chalkiness is still there, although it seems to be gaining definition as well, as it trails into cedar and dry cocoa powder. But then it’s back to being dusty, musty, dry and crusty, and it seems to want to go out, needing constant maintenance. Unlike a lot of cigars, this seems to show more life if it’s smoked a little quicker (to keep it lit) than my usual pace, which has the benefit of capturing the berry notes and transforming the chalky flavor into a creamy sweetness, so I pick up the pace. Closing out the second third, we’re still in medium land.
I’m really struggling to keep this thing burning as the cigar transitions into the final third. Unfortunately, when I remove the hideous band, a large chunk of the very thin, brittle wrapper comes off with it (a major cigar-smoking pet peeve). On an earlier sample, the wrapper simply cracked beneath the band when trying to remove it. I swear, they use a generous dollop of super glue to stick the band on there. A decent combination of the white pepper, some buttery caramel corn, and a hint of twang enter the mix, formulating a decent effort nearing the cigar’s finale. A lemony shortbread is now the main attraction, backed by a lingering pepper and a sudden lack of chalkiness. Suddenly, this is a bright and shiny contender. Lemon meringue pie, an incredible hit of natural tobacco (funny how that is an infrequent term in cigar review flavors), a bracing lime zest, and rich, double-dark chocolate flavors abound. If this cigar had started out this way, it’d be a real winner. But only five minutes later, the robusto seems to want to slide back into the boring realm of cedar and pepper and generic citrus—again, a short-lived window of opportunity. Sadly, this cigar was somewhat sour and bitter when I put it down. The strength, body, and flavor all moved past medium, not quite medium-full.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Not every cigar needs to be a fantastic cigar. I may even have a special spot in my cigar rotation for this cigar. The La Palina 01, to me, was serviceable in terms of simply getting an old-school cigar fix. It had fleeting moments of really good flavors, while the majority was simply acceptable, with only the last couple of minutes being poor. There’s a simple remedy here—smoke it outside in the freezing cold while walking the dog, where the desire to go inside outweighs the desire to finish a cigar. It’s better than the “alternatives,” “knock-offs,” “factory overruns,” etc., but it sure ain’t worth no half ‘a sawbuck…
- The Number Series is a look unlike anything previously offered by LP, using a design inspired by the late Paul Rand. Rand was best known for his corporate logo designs, with notable works such as IBM, UPS, and ABC. He also designed packaging for the original La Palina brand, which inspired La Palina to base their new Number Series around Rand’s simplistic, Swiss-inspired design style.
- Switching the cigar’s recipe between the two Number Series cigars is a similar marketing strategy used with Fratello Cigars’ Navetta and Navetta Inverso cigars.
- La Palina has not divulged primings used, etc., which has me wondering just how similar the two cigar’s wrapper/binder ingredients are.
- I’m trying to recall whether I’ve ever had a cigar that used Costa Rican tobacco before; to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t.
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Medium-plus
- Body: Medium-plus
- Citrus / lemon
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Activities that will occupy you more than you intend to be occupied by a cigar
- Purchase Recommendation: Deep discount closeout bundle
- Brief moments of being very tasty
- Burn issues
- Flat, boring flavor